Markelle Fultz needs and deserves support all around

Philadelphia 76ers, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers, Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia 76ers fans and the organization need to thoroughly support their most recent No. 1 pick.

This whole Markelle Fultz saga has been maddening more than anything else. There was no reason to change his mechanics in the first place, and the Philadelphia 76ers‘ handling of the situation hasn’t made things any better.

We’ve watched the best guard prospect since Kyrie Irving gradually devolve into somebody who can’t reliably score outside the paint. Part of that is injury-related, but the oddities that set this development into motion are questionable.

One thing is clear, though. Markelle Fultz deserves support, both from the Sixers and their fans. Whether it be the front office, coaching staff, or players, people need to make sure the 19-year-old understands everyone is in his corner.

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I’m still a firm believer in Fultz and his ability. The dude is talented, and there’s a reason he was the consensus No. 1 prospect all of last season. How quickly (or if) he’ll be able to find his jumper again is unknown, but I’ll be shocked if he isn’t a valuable NBA contributor in some capacity. He’s too skilled not to be.

We can spend time shuffling through the insane series of events that led to this point, but that’s no longer useful. We’re starting to get a feel for what caused the changes in Fultz’s shot, and we know the injury — at some point or another — restricted his shoulder movement.

Now it’s about the recovery and working him back to full strength. Fultz’s teammates have defended him on a regular basis, whether it be Joel Embiid‘s pronounced friendship or J.J. Redick openly criticizing the media at practice.

Still, Embiid’s recent comments about Fultz are worrying. He mentions a lack of support from those around Markelle, which can likely be traced back to the coaching staff and higher-ups. Again, he’s 19. This is obviously a tough time for him, so any questions about support within the organization should set off some serious alarms.

We have no right to discuss whether or not Fultz is going through mental problems. We aren’t familiar with the situation first-hand, nor do we have enough evidence to go on when making those proclimations.

Still, when you’re as young as Fultz is, these types of situations are bound to be trying. Fultz lost the feel for his jumper and has battled through an injury that disrupted function in his shoulder. Being the top basketball player in your class then suddenly forgetting how to shoot is going to come with some mental hurdles, regardless of who you’re dealing with.

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In short, there should never be questions about the level of support Fultz is receiving. He means a great deal to this team and their future, while his shooting form is still redeemable. Rediscovering his stroke is going to be a long process, but the Sixers should be used to that.