Philadelphia 76ers rookie point guard Markelle Fultz is moving closer toward a return from a right shoulder injury that has sidelined him more than two months.
"Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz has been cleared to begin the final stage of his return-to-play program," the team said in a statement Tuesday. "The program consists of gradual re-integration into team practices and training, complemented with additional conditioning work to support fitness readiness for game play."
Fultz has missed 32 games since last playing on Oct. 23. He averaged 6.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in four games but shot a woeful 33.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw line.
The No. 1 overall pick had a cortisone shot in his right shoulder on Oct. 5, but was clearly affected by the injury as he relied almost exclusively on driving to the basket. His agent said on Oct. 24 that Fultz was unable to lift his arms above his head to shoot.
A day later, the 76ers announced that Fultz would be shut down for at least three games. He was later examined by surgeon Ben Kibler at the Shoulder Center of Kentucky in Lexington, and was eventually diagnosed with a scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder.
Fultz's shooting motion was noticeably altered at the start of the season, leading to speculation about whether the change in his motion was due to the injury or whether the change led to the injury.
"There was never a concerted effort on the part of the organization to change his shot," Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo said in October.
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