To continue to “trust the process” seems almost torturous at this point.
Top overall pick Markelle Fultz will have fluid drained from his right shoulder, according to his agent Raymond Brothers.
“Markelle had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder,” Brothers told ESPN. “He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”
The lingering shoulder injury caused early shooting struggles for Fultz, who air-balled his first career free throw attempt. The same shoulder was drained before the start of the regular season, which caused him to miss the end of the Sixers’ preseason schedule.
Fultz playing through the pain is a questionable decision in a Sixers organization that has struggled to keep its young players and draftees healthy.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said Monday that he wasn’t concerned about the top pick playing through his shoulder issues.
“As I said to Markelle, this is not going to define you,” Brown said of the injury. “This first season is not going to define you. We are going to focus on all the other things that will define you.”
Brown also said his confidence in Fultz comes from the team’s medical staff: “I’m advised mostly by the medical people. That’s what I get worried about the most, and nobody has any fears.”
But the medical staff’s track record hasn’t been great in recent years.
In an interview with Bleacher Report this past summer, former No. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown blamed the Sixers medical staff for a misdiagnosis of his leg injury in 2013 that ended his NBA career early. It took 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid two years to see the court, and he still hasn’t played a full season. Embiid’s injury struggles are reminiscent of former Sixers big man Nerlens Noel, who was drafted out of Kentucky in 2013 with a torn left ACL and later developed tendinitis in the same knee. Jahlil Okafor, another Sixers big-man who is currently in limbo with the organization, was drafted in 2015 but suffered a meniscus tear late in his rookie year.
The Sixers can, at least, lean on the potential of 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, who is back in action after missing the entire 2016-2017 season due to foot fractures that kept him off the court.
There is no timetable yet for Fultz’ return, who is planning to see a specialist for his shoulder soon.