Markelle Fultz Reportedly to Rehab with Kobe Bryant's Former Physical Therapist

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers' Markelle Fultz in action during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 113-107. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz will undergo rehab for thoracic outlet syndrome with physical therapist Judy Seto, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.  

Per Charania, "Seto has worked with Kobe Bryant—as well as 76ers general manager Elton Brand—during their playing careers."

On Tuesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Fultz had been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome after taking time away from the team to visit "approximately 10 specialists over the past week or so, consultations that resulted with them bringing this diagnosis back to the organization."

Fultz's agent, Raymond Brothers, told Wojnarowski that the condition "affects nerves between the neck and shoulder resulting in abnormal functional movement and range of motion, thus severely limiting Markelle's ability to shoot a basketball."

"People were saying it was a mental problem and it is not," Brothers added. "There's no way you're the No. 1 pick in the world and all of a sudden you aren't able to consistently raise your arms to shoot a basketball. Something is physically wrong. Now we have the answer to that problem."

Fultz is expected to miss three to six weeks while rehabbing. 

This marks the latest development in what has been a bizarre beginning to Fultz's career.

The 2017 No. 1 overall pick was expected to be the third star alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia. The Sixers traded the No. 3 overall pick in that year's draft and a future conditional pick to the Boston Celtics to move up and select him.

However, Fultz came into training camp last year with a shooting motion that looked dramatically different from his college days. He ultimately missed most of the season with what was said at the time to be a scapular imbalance in his shoulder, and he was a nonfactor in the postseason upon his return. 

In the offseason, he worked on improving his shooting motion with trainer Drew Hanlen, and it appeared to be trending in the right direction. But his shot regressed during the season, he never quite fit in the starting lineup, and the Sixers eventually moved him back to a reserve role when they traded for Jimmy Butler. 

It's long been unclear whether Fultz's issues are physical, mental or both. Even if his shooting woes are solely because of TOS, Fultz will still need to retrain his shooting form to resemble the one he showcased at Washington.

That version of Fultz was dynamic, able to score at all three levels and dominate games in the pick-and-roll. His blend of size, athleticism and scoring ability made him a near-consensus top prospect heading into the league. If that version of Fultz returns, a core of Embiid, Simmons, Butler and Fultz would be deadly. 

In the meantime, his future as an NBA player—and in Philadelphia—remains in question. 

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