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The Philadelphia 76ers announced on Tuesday that point guard Markelle Fultz has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and will require physical therapy.
The 76ers announced in the statement from vice president of athlete care Dr. Daniel Medina that Fultz will begin physical therapy immediately and is out indefinitely.
The statement describes the syndrome as involving compression or irritation in the thoracic outlet, an area between the lower neck and upper chest. The Mayo Clinic describes shoulder pain and finger numbness as symptoms of the syndrome.
Fultz’s agent cites disorder as source of shooting woes
His agent Raymond Brothers told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the nerve disorder plays a role in Fultz’s well-documented shooting struggles.
“TOS affects nerves between the neck and shoulder resulting in abnormal functional movement and range of motion, thus severely limiting Markelle’s ability to shoot a basketball,” Brothers said.
Fultz has struggled to shoot since joining NBA
Fultz, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, has played 19 of the 76ers’ 25 games this season after playing in 14 games as a rookie.
His shot was not right from the start of his NBA career. He hit 40.5 percent of his field goals, and 47.6 percent of his free throws in his stunted rookie year while taking and missing just one 3-point attempt.
He sat for five months with a mysterious shoulder ailment that the team eventually announced as scapular dyskinesis.
Offseason training didn’t help
After working on his shot with renowned basketball trainer Drew Hanlen in the offseason, Fultz began this season in the starting lineup.
He continued to struggle, hitting 41.9 of his field goals, 56.8 of his free throws and 4-of-14 3-pointers (28.6 percent) and was moved back to the bench before leaving the lineup completely to seek further evaluation.
Mental or physical — or both?
Hanlen described Fultz as having a mental block, or “the yips” with his shot. When Hanlen tweeted that Fultz still wasn’t healthy in early November, Fultz responded by telling reporters “everything feels good.”
76ers didn’t acknowledge medical problem
General manager Elton Brand appeared surprised by the decision.
“There’s nothing we saw medically that didn’t allow him to play,” Brand told reporters at the time. “He played last night. He played two days ago.”
Fultz has not played since.
He has reportedly continued to see specialists for a battery of examinations and has drawn concerns from his teammates about his overall well-being.
Tuesday’s news appears to the conclusion of those examinations.
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