Sixers’ Fultz had case of ‘yips,’ new shooting coach says

Sixers guard and former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz continues to struggle with his perimeter shot.

Most have heard of Major League Baseball players having cases of the yips, with pitchers Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel and second basemen Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch immediately coming to mind.

But an NBA player with the yips?

It’s a real thing, according to Drew Hanlen, basketball trainer to the stars, who has a new client in Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz.

On a recent episode of the Talking Schmidt Podcast, reported by Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, Hanlen said Fultz had a case of the yips during last season, which played a big part in his unorthodox shooting mechanics last season.

“With Markelle, obviously he has one of the most documented cases of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years, where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot,” Hanlen said, according to Neubeck. “So for me it was, ‘Hey listen, how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year’s draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, if not better?'”

According to Basketball Reference, 72 percent of Fultz’s total field-goal attempts came within 10 feet of the bucket. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, who missed 68 games because of persistent shoulder problems, averaged 7.1 points per game.

Hanlen said Fultz has been putting in tireless work this offseason in order to correct his mechanics and believes Fultz’s jumper will eventually be “perfect.”

“We’ve been working hard every day, working on rewiring his body and getting a kind of smooth stroke back into his shot,” Hanlen said. “We’re way ahead of pace where I thought we were going to be, I thought it was going to take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot, and we’re already starting to shoot with a jump in Week 2.

“It’s not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer, it will be perfect, he’ll be back rolling and he’ll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I still give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.”

Sixers coach and interim general manager Brett Brown said after the draft that Fultz appears to be on track toward correcting the mechanical flaws that plagued him in his rookie season.

“His development of his shot is looking great. The progress of his shot is looking great. His body, we all see him like with his shoulders and his arms and his wingspan,” he said, according to Neubeck. “He’s not doing much playing right now, the effort has been his shot… it’s back to foundational-type stuff.

“And to like expedite that worries me a little bit as it relates to summer league. It does. He’s in a good place.”