Drew Hanlen

'There's no conspiracy': Markelle Fultz, Sixers respond to Drew Hanlen's deleted tweet

'There's no conspiracy': Markelle Fultz, Sixers respond to Drew Hanlen's deleted tweet

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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Markelle Fultz's trainer Drew Hanlen gives reason for poor jumper in now-deleted tweet

Markelle Fultz's trainer Drew Hanlen gives reason for poor jumper in now-deleted tweet

#NBATwitter is so crazy that now even trainers have beef. This time, however, Drew Hanlen, who has worked extensively with Markelle Fultz, may have let some information slip.

In a now-deleted tweet, Hanlen, the CEO of Pure Sweat as a coach and consultant for a roster of NBA players, admitted that Fultz may still not be completely healthy, despite playing an average of more than 24 minutes per game this season.

Hanlen, in response to Clint Parks, who operates CPSA Training, with one of his clients being the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma, let some interesting information fly when Parks criticized Fultz during the game against the Nets.

Here’s the exchange that has now been deleted from Twitter, but lives on through screenshots.

Fultz has had an up-and-down season and logged more playing time in a busy early schedule than he’s used to, which could be affecting his game, but still not healthy? That's news to us. The team hasn't said anything regarding Fultz's health and he's not currently listed on the injury report.

While this is another case of just how crazy the NBA gets on Twitter, we deserve to know if Fultz is 100 percent if we are going to judge him appropriately. It’s only fair to him, too. 

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After plenty of 'trial and error,' Sixers' Markelle Fultz happy with new jumper

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After plenty of 'trial and error,' Sixers' Markelle Fultz happy with new jumper

CAMDEN, N.J. — The concept sounds simple enough: Shoot when you’re open. But for Markelle Fultz, having the confidence to take open shots is a huge step after a rookie season derailed by a shoulder injury and the much-maligned jumper that accompanied it.

“The best thing I see in him, and I saw it in the month of September, is he’s not bashful,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said Sunday at training camp. “He takes the shots he should shoot. And sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. But his mindset is money. He’s really not gun-shy at all. And I think that’s as good a compliment as I could give him.”

Fultz, who shot down the notion that he had the "yips" (see story) on Saturday, wouldn’t detail the mechanical adjustments he’s made. But the brief glimpses we’ve seen of his jumper so far, both in a Players’ Tribune video and at training camp, look nothing like the shaky, hesitant shot we saw last season. The release appears more fluid, the follow-through more natural and pronounced. He looked comfortable working a pick-and-roll with Joel Embiid and pulling up from just inside the foul line during a scrimmage at the end of practice.

“I just had to figure out what worked for me,” Fultz said. “It was a lot of trial-and-error stuff, and I found out what clicked. I’m happy with it and I’m just going to keep working every day.”

The sheer volume of Fultz’s work with trainer Drew Hanlen is the No. 1 reason for his newfound confidence. Brown said Fultz took 150,000 jumpers this summer.

“You feel like you’ve studied and you’re ready to take a test,” Brown said. “And he’s done that, he’s put in the time. To me, his body language, his spirit, really to me reeks of one that seems very sure in himself. I think that’s based out of him knowing he hasn’t skipped steps or cheated. He’s invested time and he feels pretty good about it, and he should.”

Brown placed plenty of faith in Hanlen this offseason; not every coach would’ve trusted an outsider to repair their No. 1 pick’s shot. 

“His reputation with a few of the players that I know was excellent,” Brown said. “Any time you get somebody that’s committed to live with somebody for the summer, and the client, the player is really equally as excited to partner up as well. And re-position himself on the other side of the country; the Philadelphia scene for a moment probably didn’t produce a ton of great memories and he just wanted to get away. And I applauded it.

“We maintained continuous dialogue and flying out there and seeing him … I think that Drew’s done a great job. He’s really taken it personally, trying to bring him under his wing and help a young man as much as somebody’s shot, and for those reasons, I respect Drew’s genuine care for him. It’s deeper than, ‘let’s fix his shot.’ And I respect it, I appreciate it.”

If Fultz is taking and making outside shots, the prospect of playing him together with Ben Simmons becomes much more promising. The pair were together again during the Sixers' end-of-practice scrimmage, with Simmons at the power forward spot and Fultz running the point. 

“It just helps to know that you have someone out there who’s going to get you the ball when you’re open,” Fultz said of Simmons, “and who’s going to play as hard as you also.”

Trudging into Camden every day and trying to fix what was wrong with his body and the shot that had served him well most of his life, then sitting on the sidelines at night, must not have been a very fun way to spend most of last season for Fultz. This season feels very different. 

“Just being able to know that I prepared very well for this season, I can’t wait to start it off with these guys,” Fultz said. “Every day I’ve been coming in, I’ve been happy.” 

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