The Philadelphia 76ers are no strangers to top draft picks missing time, as young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both missed entire seasons before they stepped on the court and became potential phenoms. Top draft pick Markelle Fultz, however, has been a different story this season.

Fultz was taken with the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft because of his proven skills as a polished offensive weapon. But the former Washington Husky has not played since October because of a nagging shoulder injury that seemingly gets worse every time the team talks about it. As a result, the team would not commit to Fultz playing again this season, CBS Sports reported.

Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo spoke to press Friday morning and said Fultz’s current range was “within the paint.” If Fultz was a center, that would not be such a big deal; however, he is a point guard who is supposed to be able to score from any part of the court. The 19-year-old’s shooting stroke just has not been right since he left college and joined the NBA.

GettyImages-699979208 Markelle Fultz walks on stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being drafted first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers during the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 22, 2017 in New York City. Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Even more bizarrely, Colangelo flat-out admitted the team did not know when Fultz would play again. He told reporters the rookie could be out on the court soon or he could sit out the rest of the season. When asked for a timeline to the next update, Colangelo cut the press conference short and walked away without giving an answer.

The timeline of events, as recalled by CBS Sports, was strange and disappointing for a player who seemed like the closest thing a top pick can be to a sure bet coming out of college. At some point, Fultz began feeling shoulder soreness and completely altered his free throw motion to help alleviate the issue. While Fultz was never an outstanding free throw shooter to begin with, his form was at least normal; when he joined the Sixers, it looked broken and lowered his accuracy even more.

 

 

What must be most frustrating for Sixers fans it that Fultz was said to be done with shoulder pain two months ago, but the team is still secretive about his recovery. The team will be fine in the short term, as Philadelphia remains in decent position to finally make the playoffs thanks to the dominance of Joel Embiid. At just 19, Fultz could potentially shake off his shoulder troubles and emerge as a post-injury star like Embiid and Simmons. Unfortunately, nobody knows when that might happen.