The good news is that everybody can stop awkwardly playing along with the notion that Markelle Fultz is totally normal again. With 6:09 left in the second quarter of Monday night's game in Miami, the second-year guard was fouled on a layup attempt. His first free throw attempt featured a bit of a hitch, but was good.
Then came his second attempt.
Fultz has insisted that he does not have the yips, that the problems with his shot that sidelined him for most of last year were strictly the result of a physical issue with his shoulder. For the most part, he has been able to maintain an air of plausible deniability with his play this season. He entered the night 18-of-30 from the free throw line and 4-of-13 from three-point range. Neither of those marks are close to the level that the Sixers envisioned when they traded up to select him at No. 1 overall, but they have allowed him to more or less blend in on the court while averaging 24 minutes per night over the Sixers first 14 games.
Yet Fultz also hasn't come close to playing with the sort of authority that would compel a rational mind to conclude that whatever plagued him last season is fully in his past. His offseason work with skills trainer Drew Hanlen offered a veneer of normalcy after a rookie year in which he sometimes looked as if he had never shot a basketball before. But Hanlen himself acknowledged in a podcast that Fultz's problems were of the yippy variety, comments that may have ultimately led to his falling out with the enigmatic young guard.
Hanlen made this tweet about 40 minutes after Kennedy's report of a falling out.
Now, with Jimmy Butler set to join the team in advance of Wednesday's game in Orlando and Brett Brown set to make some critical decisions about his rotation, Fultz's mechanical demon appears to have resurfaced. It's a concern. But, then, it always was. At least we can talk about it now.
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