As the NBA world continues to ponder the story of rookie Markelle Fultz and his transformed jump shot, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reports that fingers are being pointed in several different directions:
Over the course of the last six months, PhillyVoice has spoken to people in, around, and connected to the Sixers about what is going on with the kid who was supposed to be the final piece of their puzzle. What is most striking is the degree to which opinions on Fultz’s shot diverge depending on who it is you ask. Doctors explain how unprecedented this is for a basketball player, staffers point the finger at outside influences, and his own GM says publicly his range does not currently extend beyond the paint.
According to Neubeck, the team has placed at least some blame on Fultz’s trainer, Keith Williams, who worked with the No. 1 overall pick before the season began and has been accused of making mechanical changes before the reported shoulder issues. Williams has denied those claims.
As a point of fact, it was Williams who Fultz worked with in August and early September. But what happened during that time period all depends on who you believe, because no one has been able (or at least willing) to offer a concrete answer.
Discussions with Sixers officials have been inconclusive. The core of what they have to offer is incredulous, claiming they don’t have any idea when the problem started. They continue to point to Fultz’s shoulder soreness as the primary issue, though Colangelo’s October claim that they don’t know which came first — the soreness or the mechanical switch — leaves a lot to be desired.
Meanwhile, people in Fultz’s camp are critical of the Sixers’ staff:
On the flipside, there are people close to Fultz who point the finger in the other direction. They see a kid who never had an issue with his jumper and was drafted No. 1 overall predominantly because of his shot. Even if someone outside the Sixers sent him down the wrong path last summer, they see it as the team’s responsibility to get him right now, something the Sixers have failed to do over the last couple months since clearing him December 9…There is a level of sensitivity in how the team collectively talks about Williams, knowing the closeness of his relationship with Fultz. In the midst of a trying saga, the last thing the franchise wants or needs is to alienate a player they’re in the process of trying to get right.
The organization was apparently unaware that Williams has been privately training Fultz:
Presented with the information Fultz had been spotted in the gym with Williams as recently as mid-January, there was a bit of a shocking development: I, along with several other members of the media, had learned of the workout session(s) before the team did.
The replies I received did not explicitly condemn what happened — and those I talked to described it as a one-off meeting, rather than habitual work — though they say a lot in what they do not say.
“We are really encouraged by Markelle’s progress over the past few weeks,” a team source told PhillyVoice after learning of the mid-January meet up, “and would be concerned about anything that detracts from that.”