Last year's No. 1 overall pick sat down with Isaiah Thomas on The Players' Tribune platform to discuss his difficult and strange rookie campaign. And for the first time all offseason, Fultz finally teased some footage of his new jump shot:
Every workout video needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as the tape is carefully manicured to only show the positives. However, it's plainly obvious that Fultz's jumper has progressed to the point where it's no longer an outright disaster. Keep in mind that Fultz's trainer said his client had the "yips" when they started working together in May, so the shot has come a long way.
The latest footage depicts a form reminiscent of the shot Fultz had in college. He brings the ball down a little low so the release is a tad slow, but it's an otherwise fluid and normal motion. There isn't the same inexplicable hitch we saw last season. Instead, Fultz fully extends his elbow, there's decent arc under the shot, and his feet are square. It's not perfect, but it's fine.
Fultz only took one catch-and-shoot jumper all of last season, so there's nothing but NCAA footage to compare his latest form with. The main change from his time at Washington is that his current release point is now around eye level, whereas he shot the ball above his head in college. Nevertheless, the other parts of his shot are similar, and that's a good sign because Fultz hit over 40 percent of his threes on more than five attempts per game with the Huskies.
The latest video is promising, but there's one key omission - it doesn't include any updates on the lethal pull-up jumper that made Fultz the No. 1 pick. That part of his game was most worrisome during his rookie season because he only connected on 26 percent of pull-up jumpers while the majority of his attempts came from the mid-range.
Fultz's game is predicated on his ability to attack off the dribble. He's athletic and shifty enough to get to the basket, but he needs to hit pull-ups to be at his best. He ranked in the 90th percentile in pull-up shooting during college and was particularly lethal from deep, which was the main reason he drew comparisons to James Harden. Fultz was able to generate separation using a clever variety of step-backs and crossovers, and his shot was picturesque, as seen in the clip below:
However, none of that materialized last season because Fultz mysteriously developed the aforementioned hitch. It's unclear whether it was due to injury or the result of instructions from a misguided trainer, but the results were hideous and led to an obsessive saga during which reporters breathlessly filmed every twisted jumper Fultz tried in practice.
The media circus was unnecessary because the results on the floor were already embarrassing enough. Not only did Fultz abandon the 3-pointer, but it was physically uncomfortable to watch him shoot anything other than layups. His pull-up jumper was beyond erratic and he couldn't even sort out his shooting form on free throws. He was widely ridiculed, and labeled as a bust.
It's going to take more than a workout video to assuage concerns from the fan base, but the early signs are positive. Sixers coach Brett Brown spoke glowingly about Fultz all summer and reportedly plans to have him start. Those are huge expectations from a team coming off a breakout 52-win season, but that's also the reality for No. 1 overall picks.
Philadelphia surrendered Jayson Tatum and a 2019 lottery pick because the team saw Fultz as its go-to scorer for the next decade. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are fantastic, but the Sixers still ranked dead last in pick-and-roll usage last season. Fultz has a lot to live up to, and it starts with getting his shot right.