A trivia question to begin: who is the youngest player in NBA history to have a triple-double? LeBron James did it just after he turned 20 years old (at 20 years and 20 days to be exact). This past season, LeBron’s new Lakers teammate, Lonzo Ball, broke that record, doing it just 15 days after his 20th birthday. However, 76ers #1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz broke Ball’s record at 19 years and 317 days, in just his 14th NBA game, something the mainstream media has forgotten all about.
Markelle Fultz did, admittedly, have a disappointing rookie year. He suffered a mysterious shoulder injury after trying to adjust his shot that kept him sidelined for 68 games in the regular season. According to many reports, Fultz had a serious case of the “yips”. When he did play, his defense was a liability, and he never took a decent shot from long distance. Fultz was benched for the majority of the playoffs.
Despite his shortcomings in year one, Fultz did have some great moments, like his triple-double, and now, after a lot of off-season work, he is poised to have a highly improved year two. After spending the spring and summer with skills coach Drew Hanlen, rumors are swirling around Fultz’s new ceiling.
NBA reporter Jordan Schultz has reported sources have told him Fultz’s shot has been “completely rebuilt”, and “as a result, he is vastly improved”. Per reporter Harrison Grim, J.J Redick, on a recent episode of his podcast, predicted a large statistical leap for Fultz. This coming from one of the best shooters in the NBA over the last five years. Then, on The Burner Podcast, the mother of former Sixer,= Richaun Holmes, who was a close friend to Fultz, stated she had seen his new jump-shot, and called it “something to be reckoned with”.
I was there when Fultz returned from injury this season, and man did he electrify the Wells Fargo Center. There was so much buzz in that arena, as coach Brett Brown had just announced about two hours before game-time that he would play. Everyone’s focus was on Fultz, and he delivered. He had flashes of skill that showed the world why he was the #1 overall pick. By the end of the night, the crowd copied the Philadelphia Eagles fans’ “Foles” chant, a mockery of the Minnesota Vikings’ “Scoll” chant, with chants of “Fultz, Fultz, Fultz!” If he can excite the rest of the NBA like he excited the City of Brotherly Love, and be an every-game contributor in a successful Sixers playoff run, Fultz could be a shoe-in for 2019 Most Improved Player Honors.
Photo Credit- www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia
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