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76ers: G Markelle Fultz "looked good" but "isn't whole right now"

BOSTON -- Sixers coach Brett Brown said that top overall pick Markelle Fultz had his "best day" in practice on Wednesday, but he and the team remain noncommittal on when the rookie guard will return to game action.

"We're hopeful and optimistic than Markelle will be on the floor soon and impacting our team in a positive way," Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo told ESPN on Friday. "But we will be patient so that we put him in the best possible position to be successful."

Brown said that Fultz still "isn't whole right now," but that he's making steady improvement. "We're trying to continue to move him forward -- in spirit and in his game," Brown said. "We're trying to get him more comfortable with his rise-up jump shot and free throw. The 3-point shot isn't necessarily on my mind. We need to let him feel good about himself again, and I think some of it is with the fluidness of his shot."

Fultz, who was taken with the top overall pick in June's draft, averaged six points in 19 minutes over the first four games of the season.

"He looked good," Brown said of Fultz on Thursday. "If you just came, you'd walk into the gym and say, he's pretty damn good. You wouldn't have known. He rises up shoots free throws and jump shots. I put him to the line, I put him there in pressure environments on purpose. Trying to flush it out, get him comfortable again. He didn't blink."

Joel Embiid said that Fultz didn't take any perimeter shots in practice, which has been the focus of much attention since he has been shelved with a shoulder injury after the fourth game of the season.

"He was just aggressive," Embiid said of Fultz, who traveled to Boston for the win on Thursday night. "His game includes midrange shots. He didn't take many of them yesterday. He was fluid, moving the ball. That's his thing -- pick-and-rolls. Actually, I don't think he needs a jump shot. That's how good he's going to be."

Fultz's injury didn't reveal any structural damage, but after a scapular expert from Kentucky examined him, the team determined he should be shut down in an effort to rehab a muscular imbalance and retrain the shoulder muscles.

"I've never seen anything like this in the NBA," one veteran NBA general manager told ESPN. "It's bizarre."

"It's all connected," Brown added when asked how the mental aspect has affected Fultz's shot. "You can't go from one place and end up here without the physical side of it being real. ... He's getting better. Wednesday was a good day."
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