Sixers head coach Brett Brown warned of "growing pains" when it comes to Markelle Fultz this season. But the second-year guard's poor performance Tuesday night had most pundits questioning why the Sixers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick.
"He's bewildered on defense, or lazy, or both. He's skittish on offense, or clueless, or both," my colleague Marcus Hayes wrote about Fultz's performance Tuesday night, where he scored just five points on 2-7 shooting. "Blessed with unbelievable jumping ability, he's Charmin-soft at the rim. He was timid. Toothless."
Hayes was far from the only sports writer to criticize Fultz after Tuesday's night's game.
"Markelle Fultz showed he still has a long way to go to approach reliability," wrote Sports Illustrated's Rohan Nadkarni. "Markelle Fultz is a problem, and not in a good way," said FS1 host Nick Wright. "If you could take TJ McConnell's heart and zest and put it in Markelle Fultz's chest, you could be a contender!" screamed ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
Despite his less-than-auspicious start, NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley isn't ready to give up on the young basketball player.
"Let's don't give up on Fultz yet," Barkley told Dan Patrick on his radio show Wednesday afternoon, refusing to assess last year's No. 1 draft pick after just one game. "It's so funny, us talking heads. Every time we get something right we brag about it… You remember two years ago everyone talking about [Los Angeles Rams quarterback] Jared Goff being a bust. Now we're like, 'Uh-oh, maybe we overreacted.' "
Fultz has spent countless hours in the gym since being drafted by the Sixers working on improving his shot. In fact, he was joined in the gym by teammate Ben Simmons following the team's loss to the Celtics Tuesday night.
"Ben Simmons is unbelievable, but unless they get something from Markelle Fultz, they can't beat the Celtics or Toronto," Barkley said.
Barkley told Patrick he never went through a period in his basketball career where he lost the ability to shoot. But the former Sixers great, who is often mocked and ridiculed as a terrible golfer, compared Fultz's problems with his own "crappy golf swing."
"Like, I'm terrified over the ball. I've got no idea what's going to happen," Barkley said. "I don't want to say he's got the 100 percent yips, but I have the yips on the golf course, and let me tell you something… it's a terrifying thing, plain and simple."