Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz spent the offseason working on his shooting stroke, and while he appeared to have made some progress early on this season, he went viral for all of the wrong reasons Monday night.
Midway through the second quarter of a 124-114 victory over the Miami Heat, Fultz got the basketball world buzzing by essentially pump-faking a free-throw attempt:
Afterward, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick downplayed the mishap.
"The ball slipped out of my hand, so I had to do what I had to do," Fultz (five points, 1-of-3 from the line) said, according to The Athletic's Rich Hofmann. "But I'm not really worried about it. I work on my game. The ball just happened to slip, so that's what happened."
He is shooting 57.6 percent from the line this season, an improvement from his rookie season (47.6 percent on just 21 attempts). His free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage (41.2) and three-point percentage (30.8) are all up.
Fultz sat down with Stadium's Jeff Goodman prior to the season to discuss his new shooting form:
The 20-year-old worked with basketball trainer Drew Hanlen during the offseason, and in an episode of the Talking Schmidt Podcast during the summer, Hanlen mentioned Fultz's "yips":
"With Markelle, obviously he has one of the most documented cases of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years, where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot. So for me, it was, 'Hey, listen, how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year's draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, if not better?'"
Fultz appeared in just 14 regular-season games a season ago as he dealt with a shoulder injury. Fair or not, this latest gaffe will follow him throughout the season until he proves he can make shots consistently.