Fultz needed some tweaks, not an extreme shot makeover
The photo above is from Fultz’s lone season at the University of Washington. His shooting form doesn’t look terrible. Heck, it doesn’t even look bad.
His numbers at Washington bear out the fact Fultz was a pretty good shooter in his lone collegiate season. He shot 47.6 percent overall and 41.3 percent on five 3-point attempts per game.
His free throw percentage of 64.9 was a concern, but that was really the only thing that needed to be addressed.
Something as simple as getting Fultz to have less of his palm on the basketball on his release was likely the adjustment that could have fixed the free throw inconsistencies.
Fultz shot just 40.5 percent in 14 regular season games as a rookie, missing his only 3-point attempt and shooting just 47.6 percent on 21 free throw attempts, as he battled a shoulder injury, an injury that affected his shooting form.
The 76ers turned to Drew Hanlen, a shooting guru, in the offseason and Hanlen remade Fultz’s mechanics.
A guy who shot 41.3 percent from 3-point range in college and changed his release because his shoulder hurt probably didn’t need an extreme shot makeover. More likely, he needed to look at film of his pre-injury release, tweak his palm positioning and get the old muscle memory back.
Instead, Hanlen — presumably in conjunction with 76ers officials (i.e., head coach Brett Brown, who served as interim general manager until late in the offseason — changed everything.
And Fultz was put in the position of having to think about mechanics every time he went up for a shot. I’m going to hazard a guess that will put a crimp on a player’s natural athleticism and feel for the game.
The result was that Fultz was only slightly improved and had developed the yips at the foul line. In 19 games this season, 15 of them starts, he has shot 41.9 percent overall, 4-for-14 (28.6 percent) from 3-point range and 56.8 percent at the line.
Fultz has been all over the place with his form at the foul line this season, complete with double clutches, an odd hot-potato thing and lots of misses. Frankly, looking at the available video makes me think he made miracles happen by making more than half of his 37 attempts.
At this point, I think Fultz’s old form is where you have to start. Show him video of him making shots while at Washington. Give the kid some confidence back by letting him see himself playing free and loose and making shots.
Per Synergy Sports’ pre-draft evaluation of Fultz, he had an effective field goal percentage of 87 on the above the top of the key 3-pointer in the 2016-17 season at Washington. He shot a respectable 46 percent from mid-range.
Synergy’s bottom line on his shooting:
"Struggles at the line limited his efficiency, which came as a surprise given his well-rounded perimeter scoring arsenal."
Again, this was a situation that called for some tweaks. There was no need to blow everything up and start over.
If Fultz’s shot is broken, it’s because the 76ers and Hanlen broke it.