The Philadelphia 76ers have played well enough to this point in the season to make reaching the playoffs a realistic possibility for a team that’s struggled in recent years while building a young core. Guard Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, was expected to be a part of the process but he’s played in just four games due to a shoulder injury.
Prior to Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo discussed the progress that Fultz has made in his recovery. According to Colangelo, Fultz is not experiencing any pain in his shoulder and “the end is near” with regards to the rookie returning to the lineup.
Fultz was averaging just 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game at the time the 76ers made the decision to shut him down. Fultz’s right shoulder injury was having a significant impact on his production, as the rookie was shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from the foul line.
Fultz, who averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game in his lone season at Washington, did not attempt a 3-pointer in his four games prior to being sidelined due to the shoulder injury. Last season Fultz shot 47.6 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from 3 and 64.9 percent from the foul line.
His eventual return to the lineup would be a positive boost to the 76ers perimeter rotation, which has dealt with multiple health issues in recent weeks. T.J. McConnell has missed the last three games with a bruised shoulder, and Justin Anderson has been out with shin splints.