Confident Fultz wants back in the game

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Markelle Fultz walked by Brett Brown as the head coach was discussing his status with the media following Wednesday's practice. 

"Put me in, Coach!" Fultz called out with a smile.

"That thing you just saw," Brown said. 'Put me in,' it's a reflection of his enthusiasm, it's a reflection of him feeling sure about himself. He's very confident. We truly miss him. We truly look forward to, we hope soon, having him back with us."

Fultz is expected to increase his basketball activity during the Sixers' current three-city road trip. He could begin doing on-court work with the team this week, the next step in the guard's comeback from a right shoulder injury that has sidelined him since the fourth game of the season. There is no date set for his return. 

"The fact he's now with us and sort of us with the team and in the mix, slowly we'll start integrating him back into this," Brown said.

The 2017 No. 1 pick has been limited to individual work while rehabbing with the Sixers and a specialist in Kentucky. 

“[He] continued to work on his movement, trying to build his conditioning, trying to continue to strengthen his shoulder," Brown said of Fultz's activity while the Sixers practiced Wednesday. "Slowly moving him to trying to play at a pace and a speed that is more game-like to test it and also grow his fitness base."

The Sixers announced Dec. 9 the soreness and scapular muscle imbalance Fultz had been experiencing was gone. Fultz's shot form was visibly affected by the injury early on in the season before he was ruled out. He has played a total of 76 minutes in his rookie season. 

"I know he wants to get out there. He can't wait," Ben Simmons said. "I'm looking forward to playing with him just because the start of the season, you could see a lot of potential with him. I think we're going to have a great chemistry once he gets back." 

In other injury news, Justin Anderson (shin splints) still is eyeing a return Thursday against the Trail Blazers. Anderson has not played since Nov. 15.