CAMDEN, N.J. — Markelle Fultz took a key step in his return from injury Sunday.
The 2017 No. 1 pick went through full-contact 5-on-5 work in practice for the first time since being sidelined with a right shoulder injury. He participated in the “large majority” of the afternoon practice, according to Brett Brown.
“I thought he looked good for not having done much obviously the past few months,” Brown said.
Fultz was available for portions of practice, including transition defense, play calling and passing drills. In comparison to previous days, Fultz was available to “get up and down the floor in a more detailed, lengthy way,” Brown explained.
Anytime Fultz’s recovery is mentioned, a question that follows is, ‘How did his shot look?’ Fultz’s form changed during the injury and has been in the spotlight as he makes his way back. Brown was encouraged by what he saw from the rookie on both ends of the floor.
“I thought his rise up looked pretty good,” Brown said. “He didn’t shoot any threes. But I thought that thing, that skill that he has, I’ve said to everybody, it connects the dots. When you don’t have it, you realize it even more. He can create a shot for himself, he can create a shot for others, he’s got a lot of wiggle to his game. That was different.
“He’s different than all of our players. So to watch him play in that environment and really wind him up defensively, because he’s got a long wingspan, was to me to the positive of the day.”
A date for Fultz’s return has yet to be determined. Brown does not think it will be the Sixers' next game, Wednesday against the Celtics abroad. The team will continue to monitor Fultz has he goes through the action like he did Sunday.
“I do not expect him to return to play in London, personally,” Brown said. “There’s no pre-ordained date. We’re not going to put ourselves in a box and declare a date. It doesn’t work like that. He will tell us as we watch his body react to the first kind of workout he’s had in, what, two months. There is no date."
Fultz has not played since Oct. 23 because of right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance. He received treatment with the Sixers and with Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic to get back on the court.
“It’s great having him with the team,” Brown said. “He’s good people. He’s got a very charismatic way that he engages with the team and coaching staff. We’re all with him. He’s ours. We understand the responsibility to grow him and help him navigate a very unusual introduction to an NBA season … It was a great thing to have him compete, sweat, be around teammates.”
Joel Embiid did not practice Sunday because of back soreness.