There's a new twist in the bizarre injury and shooting motion of 76ers star rookie

  • Markelle Fultz is being shut down for three games because of a shoulder injury that has badly affected his shooting motion.
  • On Wednesday, Philadelphia 76ers president Bryan Colangelo suggested that Fultz’s shoulder injury may have been the result of Fultz tinkering with his shooting form.
  • The 76ers are once again now dealing with a strange injury situation to a top draft pick.

The Philadelphia 76ers are once again dealing with a strange and hazy injury to one of their star rookies, this time to No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz.

Fultz’s career has gotten off to a strange start because of a sudden change to his shooting motion. Fultz, an accurate shooter in college, has developed a hitch in his shot where he appears to push the ball out in front of his body.

The change in his shot was attributed to a right shoulder injury that 76ers head coach Brett Brown said in preseason he thought was bothering Fultz more than Fultz was admitting.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Fultz had his shoulder drained before the start of the regular season. Fultz’s agent told Wojnarowski that Fultz “literally cannot raise his arms up to shoot.” Immediately, the NBA world wondered why the 76ers had not shut down Fultz, who is shooting 33% from the field and 50% from the free throw line, for the start of the season.

However, on Wednesday, a new wrinkle was added to the story when Sixers president Bryan Colangelo suggested that Fultz’s shoulder injury occurred while he was trying to change his shot.

The Sixers said on Wednesday that Fultz will sit out the next three games to let his shoulder heal. Colangelo said there was no structural damage to Fultz’s shoulder and no indication not to play him at the start of the season.

Fultz shot 47% from the field and 41% from three in college. In the NBA, he has shot poorly and not attempted a shot beyond 14 feet.

Fultz’s free throw attempts have been ugly:

And his shots beyond the paint haven’t been much prettier:

Colangelo’s update only muddies the already-confusing situation. Again, Fultz was an accurate shooter in college and shot well in the Las Vegas Summer League with the Sixers. It’s unclear why he would change his shooting motion, and even more unclear how he hurt his shoulder while working on changing his shot.

For the 76ers, this marks a third straight year of confusion over the extent of star players’ injuries. Joel Embiid missed the first two seasons of his career over foot injuries and often had an unclear timeline. Last season, Ben Simmons suffered a jones fracture in his foot and had an unclear timeline of returning before the team shut him down for good.

Much of the NBA world was exasperated by the latest twist to Fultz’s situation.

The question going forward becomes how long Fultz’s shoulder takes to heal and if he can re-gain the shooting form that helped make him the top pick in the draft.

The 76ers season began with the promise of being competitive, with their long rebuild taking a next step. That remains true, but the situation becomes increasingly more bleak if their No. 1 pick can’t play or shoot.

Markelle Fultz free throw shooting form is hard to watch.
— NBA Inside Stuff (@NBAInside_Stuff) October 22, 2017

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