The Philadelphia 76ers are playing Markelle Fultz’s right shoulder injury close to the vest.
After weeks of denying that Fultz had an injury of any kind to his right shoulder, the team released a statement saying that he had visited a shoulder specialist, and would be out indefinitely. T
hey will look to reevaluate him in three weeks, meaning that is the minimum amount of time Fultz will miss because of the injury.
Rumors about a shoulder injury were exhasterbated by the way Fultz changed his shooting motion during training camp, and were kicked into another gear when fans saw how awkwardly he was shooting his free throws. The staccato motion led many to believe he was trying to compensate for the discomfort he was experiencing.
Nobody could provide a concrete reason why Fultz had changed his shot. As his agent and trainer provided different reasons, the 76ers continued to say nothing was wrong, and Adrian Wojnarowski said he couldn’t even lift his arms above his head to shoot a basketball.
As public speculation mounted, and Fultz continued to be ineffective on the court, it was impossible to deny he wasn’t battling an injury of some kind. The 76ers weren’t yet sure what it was, but they decided to announce that Fultz would be missing their next three games.
Now Philadelphia announced he will be out indefinitely with “soreness and scapular muscle imbalance” in his right shoulder.
It’s not unprecedented for the 76ers to draft a player first overall only to watch him miss extended time in his first year. The same thing happened with Ben Simmons last season, missing the year thanks to a foot injury. Because test showed that Fultz didn’t have any structural damage in the shoulder, he likely won’t miss the entire year.
But even if he does, it isn’t the end of the world for the 76ers. It’s better to cash in on their investment at full strength next year than having him risk further injury by attempting to play through the pain.