Markelle Fultz Tweaks Shooting Form & We Are Seriously Concerned

Zack Jones

Saturday, October 14, 2017 2:03 PM UTC

Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017 2:03 PM UTC

We take a deep look at the reasons behind Markelle Fultz' new shot and explain why we predict that the top draft pick and Rookie of the Year candidate might be hiding something from us.

Quarterbacks regularly adjust their throwing motion. Sluggers and golfers constantly turn to coaches to tweak their swings. Rarely does the top pick in the NBA Draft singlehandedly decide to alter his shooting stroke on the eve of his rookie debut.

This is exactly what we are seeing from this year's top draft pick, Markelle Fultz. The rookie point guard has taken it upon himself to tweak and 'improve' his shooting stroke. Why did I put the word 'improve' in quotations? You be the judge...
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Markelle Fultz changed his free throw shooting form. He went 2-5 from the line with new shooting form tonight.#Sixers #Philadelphia #NBA

— RK Basketball (@RKBasketball_) October 10, 2017
Look familiar?
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There’s almost a little Shaq in Fultz's free throw form.

— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) October 10, 2017
And for anyone who watched the "The Big Aristotle" throughout his career knows that Shaq is that last person you want to have your stroke compared to.

BetOnline currently lists Fultz at +1000 to win the Rookie of the Year title

The Issue

Markelle was an average free throw shooter in both college and the summer league (averaging 65% with the Washington Huskies), so why make the change to a form that looks unorthodox and awkward? 

For those of you following the preseason, Fultz sat out of the 76ers matchup with the Celtics due to a sore right shoulder. He was asked about this injury after the game, to which Markelle replied that it had been hurting on and off, but he couldn't remember exactly when it started.

“I talk to trainers when it bothers me, and they get right to it and start working on it,” he said. “When it’s not, I’m happy. Either way, I’m happy and I just go out and play.”

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor managed to grab the rookie on his way out of the gym to ask if the new form was in response to the shoulder issue, to which Fultz responded with “Yeah, for the most part. I’m just trying other things to make free throws. At the end of the day, that’s not an excuse for me. I’m just out there hooping.”

The Concern

As far as I see it, this is a major concern if I am a Sixers fan or GM. Sure, I would want to see any player shooting free throws at a 65% striving to want to improve their shot. What I don't want to see is them making this change on their own in what attempts to hide or prevent an existing injury.

Markelle set himself aside as a lethal perimeter shooter where he relied heavily on his jump shot. His jumper managed an impressive 41.3% from three and 43.8% for two. Stats at reveal that only 25.5% of his field goals came at the rim last season. Fultz's skill set relies on his ability to create points outside the paint, and up to this point in the preseason, he has failed to score outside of the paint and has only attempted three 3-pointers.

He has only recorded 47 minutes of playing time in the preseason and has been listed as injured for the last two games, meaning the normally transparent 76ers might be hiding a larger issue. 

While Markelle Fultz claims he is simply experimenting, I, along with many NBA pundits, am not buying it. And either way, a young player making these kinds of changes at his own discretion sends the sort of signals that cause concern. Markelle's love of Chick-fil-A and the undeniable Round-Face-Syndrome hint to future weight issues that we have seen in players with similar builds in the past, to the point that even a shoulder injury that sidelines the young talent for an extended period of time could have deeper effects on his overall physical health and stamina.

Trusting the Process?

I used the words 'hint' and 'concern' quite a bit here, but it is pretty clear that there is some underlying reason that Fultz has decided to alter part of his game. At the time you would expect the young talent to showcase his skills and find his place on the floor, Markelle has instead turned against his bread & butter, his jumper.

Rookie of the Year Odds Per BetOnline
Lonzo Ball (+225)
Ben Simmons (+250)
Dennis Smith (+350)
Markelle Fultz (+1000)
De’Aaron Fox (+1000)
Jayson Tatum (+1000)
Donovan Mitchell (+1400)
Josh Jackson (+1400)
Malik Monk (+2000)
Milos Teodosic (+2200) 

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