Markelle Fultz's shooting woes progress to pump-faking ... at the free-throw line

Jack BaerWriter
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5763/" data-ylk="slk:Markelle Fultz">Markelle Fultz</a> has taken a few steps forward this season. This would represent a step back. (AP Photo)
Markelle Fultz has taken a few steps forward this season. This would represent a step back. (AP Photo)

Even with the snickering around him, it seems Markelle Fultz has really taken a step forward with his infamous shooting woes this season.

The Philadelphia 76ers point guard debuted a new shooting stroke during preseason and has since looked somewhat passable shooting the ball. Defenses haven’t exactly had to focus on him, but his stats are no longer a horror show. Starting all 14 games for the Sixers this season, Fultz entered Monday averaging 9.3 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting, including 30.8 percent from 3-point range.

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That’s an encouraging step for a young player whose almost unprecedented breakdown, whether it was caused by an injury, bad coaching or some form of the yips, was a major storyline in the NBA last season.

And yet, it appears Fultz’s legendary mental errors have remained, and at no time more so than a certain free-throw attempt during the Sixers’ game against the Heat on Monday.

Markelle Fultz pump-fakes a free throw

Try and find another pump fake this season that gets both teams to jump.

Considering we’ve seen Fultz do this on only this one free throw and not on his other two attempts so far in the game, odds are Fultz’s mind is getting the better of him and forcing him to pull the ball back in the middle of his shooting form.

And yet, this really shouldn’t be possible in the NBA. Even among the worst shooters, free throws are supposed to be second-nature mechanics. That Fultz can be so self-aware or apprehensive in the middle of something he’s probably done hundreds of thousands of times is yet another sign his painful battle continues.

In related news, Fultz and his trainer Drew Hanlen are reportedly no longer on speaking terms.

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