The strange, sad saga of Markelle Fultz

Watching Markelle Fultz double-clutch his way through a free throw attempt and having it spread through social media like a plague hurt my soul. It’s painful to watch, and even more painful when you realize everyone is already laughing at it seconds after it hits Twitter.

He put in so much work, so much effort into retooling his shot, and for a while it seemed to be working. Sure, it wasn’t the nicest shot anyone has ever seen, but it was a hell of a lot better than the janky nonsense he put up last season.

Then, well, this hit Twitter minutes after his double-clutch du jour:

Oof. Just another strange nail in the strange coffin of Fultz’s young career. I know Fultz will get a lot of shit for tossing Hanlen to the curb, but Hanlen always struck me as an odd guy himself.

And to top it all off, he’s a bit of a Chatty Cathy. I’m all for sending passive aggressive tweets about someone, but give me a break. Do shot trainers need to send out “mysterious” tweets about their clients health, and then fire off this nonsense last night?

Who would have thought a weirdo shooting coach wouldn’t work well with a weirdo shooting guard who is suddenly so far inside of his own head that he’s scared to attempt a jump shot farther than 15-feet?

Will we ever find out what happened two summers ago? How did he go from the smooth stroke wunderkind at Washington to a nervous, hitch-filled mess of his rookie year?

To me, it’s clear something happened to Fultz that summer, an injury that he or the team don’t want to fess up too. Crossing Broad reported Fultz may have hurt himself in a dirt biking accident, which caused the scapular imbalance in the first place.

Personally, I think he hurt himself, his injury altered his shot, and facing the pressure of being the number 1 pick in the draft he tried to re-work his shot around the injury with his goofy original trainer and fucked it up beyond all belief.

It got in his head from that point on, he developed the yips, and there you have it.

Either way, it’s sad to see. He’s hurting, it’s obvious, and not in the physical way. To have all eyes on you, knowing that anything you do (like the widely spread Nets three last week) will be on social media and television minutes after you do it has to eat at him. It would to me.

He put in the work in the offseason. He put up hundreds of thousands of shots, he’s in shape, he gives effort on the court. This isn’t a case of Jahlil Okafor coming into the season fat and out of shape, not willing to put any work into expanding his game, and then just expecting to have everything handed to him.

To me, Fultz put in the effort, but he’s not seeing the gains he wants. Then, your shooting coach publicly mentions you’re not healthy and you have the yips to the media, and it’s a breach of trust. He doesn’t trust him, that’s certain now, so where does he go from here?

I don’t want to make excuses for him, so I won’t. I’ll keep supporting him, keep watching as he keeps plugging away at a game that was once so easy for him.

Keep shooting, Markelle.

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