LAS VEGAS – Markelle Fultz said Sunday he felt “great,” but perhaps most important, he looked and sounded the part.
The morning after the 2017 No. 1 pick injured himself in the third quarter of the 76ers’ last-second, 95-93 NBA Summer League victory over the Golden State Warriors, the team provided an update on his status:
When Sunday’s shootaround at Thomas & Mack Center opened to the media, Fultz, decked out in cutoff sweatpants and a long-sleeved Sixers practice shirt, seemed like his normal self, projecting a loose, upbeat demeanor, while interacting and joking with teammates. At one point, he conducted a mock interview with Isaiah Briscoe.
Fultz credited the club’s training staff for helping him get better quickly.
“I’m good, I’m walking around, I feel great,” said Fultz.
As announced by the Sixers, the 19-year old combo guard will sit out for the duration of the team’s games this summer. Between three appearances in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Fultz averaged 16.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in just 21.5 minutes per game. He shot 40.9 percent from the field, hit 6 of 16 3-point tries, and tallied three blocks.
“I definitely think I accomplished just being a leader, talking a lot,” Fultz said Sunday, as he discussed his growth over the past two weeks. “Offensive end, of course scoring and getting my teammates involved. Then, on the defensive end, I think I improved a lot. I learned a lot of how to guard the screen, how to get into my man, and just knowing that everyone on this level is going to be faster, quicker, and going to be able to play, so I definitely learned a lot.”
Although he won’t’ be in uniform Sunday when the Sixers take on the San Antonio Spurs at 10:30 PM EST, Fultz is still expected to be involved.
“It’s ‘Coach’ Fultz,” joked Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce, who’s in charge of the team in Las Vegas. “I don’t really know Markelle anymore.
“He’s going to be on the bench with us, and this is an opportunity to provide leadership, show leadership, and work on leadership – talking to his teammates on the sideline, in practice, being able to look at the game from our perspective as coaches. This is his role – on the court, he’s got to be a floor general, and guys have to feel comfortable playing with him, and that starts with communication.”
So, there’s still work to be done, even if Fultz will temporarily be outside the lines, rather than between them.
“I’m going to be on my teammates,” he said, “making sure they do everything they do. Just trying to be there, making sure my teammates feel like I’m still on the court really, making sure I can be the best teammate I can possibly be.”