CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown was firm in his message Tuesday — the Sixers aren't hiding any dark secrets about Markelle Fultz's health.
After a now-deleted tweet from Fultz's trainer Drew Hanlen that claimed Fultz is "still not healthy" after the shoulder injury and accompanying unsightly shot he dealt with last season, Brown said there are no major injury concerns with the second-year guard.
“Nobody’s ever 100 percent healthy," Brown said. "To the best of my knowledge, he’s healthy enough to go do what he’s been doing. He’s been playing basketball and doing well. He’s fine."
Perhaps recognizing that "nobody's ever 100 percent healthy" could be twisted into unfounded speculation, Brown clarified that, in his mind, Fultz isn't dealing with any significant injuries.
"There’s no conspiracy theory out there," he said. "Nobody’s 100 percent healthy. But he’s healthy to play basketball like JJ [Redick] is and Joel [Embiid] is.”
While Fultz didn't directly answer a question about his shoulder, he said he felt fine. But he used the exact same phrase as Brown when asked if he's fully healthy, or close to it.
"For sure," Fultz said. "Nobody’s ever 100 percent healthy in this game. You play five games in seven days, you get bumps and bruises. That’s life in the NBA, that’s what you sign up for when you get here. But I’m working every day to get better.”
In the first 11 games, Fultz has made 18 of 64 jump shots (28.1 percent), 4 of 13 three-point attempts. He shot 17 for 56 (30.4 percent) in 14 regular-season games as a rookie and didn't make a three-pointer.
Though there's not a big statistical difference, there's no doubt Fultz's shot has generally looked smoother, and he's been more confident to take the open jumpers presented to him after a summer of work with Hanlen. His free-throw form is much improved, and his percentage has jumped from 47.6 percent to 66.7 percent.
That said, a jumper that barely grazed the bottom of the backboard (see video) in the fourth quarter of the Sixers' blowout loss to the Nets on Tuesday raised some eyebrows, and prompted Hanlen to defend his client on Twitter.
While Brown said he thinks Hanlen is "really good at his job," he understandably wasn't thrilled about his tweet.
“We wished he didn’t," he said. "We wished he didn’t, and we move on. Elton [Brand] as our general manager will deal and has dealt with it. We’ll move on.”
Fultz said he never even saw the tweet because he doesn't use social media during the season. He wouldn't answer questions about any conversations he's had with Hanlen regarding the tweet and said his focus is on continuing to improve.
“Everything feels good," Fultz said. "Like I said, I’m out here playing and competing every day. My shot can get better. It’s all about putting in work, like I did this summer, putting in work every day to get better. For me it’s not just my shot, it’s everything. … I want to work on defense, being a good teammate. It’s a process.”
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