CAMDEN, N.J. — Markelle Fultz is back … from Kentucky. The No. 1 pick has returned from rehabbing his right shoulder and remains listed as out.
Fultz traveled last week to receive physical therapy for soreness and scapular muscle imbalance with Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic.
Brett Brown described Fultz’s basketball activity at the Sixers’ training complex on Wednesday as “minimal.” The team announced on Nov. 19 he would be reevaluated in “approximately two to three weeks.”
“We are just happy to have him back,” Brown said after practice. “I felt like I haven't seen him in a long time.”
Fultz has been sidelined for the last 19 games. He has appeared in only four games, averaging 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.0 minutes off the bench.
His teammates checked in on him while he made the trip.
“I've been talking to him, even though he was away,” Joel Embiid said. “His spirits are in a good place and it was great to have him back."
Could McConnell return?
In the meantime, the Sixers’ backcourt has taken another hit.
Backup point guard T.J. McConnell (left shoulder, sprained AC joint) is questionable for Thursday’s game against the Lakers. He went through limited work at practice on Wednesday. McConnell has missed the last three games.
McConnell said Monday he would like to return against the Lakers but isn't going to force it if he would be limited in how he could contribute.
Embiid had a career night against the Lakers in Los Angeles the first time he faced them this season. So can he repeat his 46-point performance?
“As long as they feed me,” Embiid said of his teammates. “I’ve got a pretty good chance.”
It won't be that simple. Expect the Lakers to make adjustments after giving up that astronomical scoring total. Embiid and the Sixers are anticipating an enhanced defensive strategy.
“You’d be really shocked if they do what they did again,” Brown said. “We’re not game planning for that at all. I expect you’re going to see maybe some larger defenders on him in single coverage opportunities. I certainly expect them to double-team him when that’s not happening.”
The Lakers (8-15) have lost five straight.