Slowly but surely, 76ers rookie Markelle Fultz starting to look like his old self

Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/phi/" data-ylk="slk:Philadelphia 76ers">Philadelphia 76ers</a> rookie <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaab/players/136166/" data-ylk="slk:Markelle Fultz">Markelle Fultz</a> has not played since Oct. 23. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers rookie Markelle Fultz has not played since Oct. 23. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Slowly but surely, Markelle Fultz’s shot appears to be rounding back to the form that made him the No. 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft.

The journey of the Philadelphia 76ers’ rookie has been well-documented. He lit up the NBA Summer League after being chosen first out of the University of Washington, but showed up to training camp with mysterious alterations to his shot. The team attributed the strange change to a shoulder ailment and shut him down indefinitely after he appeared in just four games.

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But based on several reports, there appears to have been more to it than just “scapular muscle imbalance” in his right shoulder. And while Fultz has been sidelined for months, local reporters have been given glimpses into the total rebuild of his mechanics during practice and before games.

It was not pretty for a while, but Fultz seems like he has taken significant strides in recent weeks. And he looked pretty much like his old self on Tuesday ahead of Philly’s home game against the Indiana Pacers.

Here he is Tuesday morning shooting free throws:

And here’s Fultz at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday evening smoothly knocking down some outside jumpers off the dribble:

Fultz never had the most textbook shooting form, but the kid shot 41.3 percent from beyond the arc in college, so it has never deterred him from scoring. He is really starting to look like his old self, which has to be encouraging for Sixers fans who feared the worst for the prized pick, especially after general manager Bryan Colangelo said last month that Fultz’s range did not extend beyond the paint.

Fultz’s improvements may not mean you’ll see him in game action anytime soon. Barring a collapse over its last 18 games, Philadelphia is set to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign. The Sixers currently occupy the No. 6 spot, but are jockeying for seeding in the Eastern Conference where seeds Nos. 3 through No. 8 are all within 3.5 games of one another.

If Fultz is going to be a key cog in Philly’s future alongside All-Star Joel Embiid and potential Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, it may not be best for the 19-year-old’s development — or psyche — to shove him into a rotation in high-pressure situations.

The Sixers are certainly accustomed to their top picks not playing as rookies. What’s one more?

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Sam Cooper is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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