NBA

February 11, 2019, 9:00 am

Two former Huskies find themselves in NBA limbo

SEATTLE — Two Huskies. Two basketball careers. Two years abstracted from a peak that’s about unrecognizable now.

Two former Huskies find themselves in NBA limbo
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SEATTLE — Two Huskies. Two basketball careers. Two years abstracted from a peak that’s about unrecognizable now.

One is Markelle Fultz, the archetypal pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Fultz may be the most high-profile military recruit to ever suit up at Washington. In his only year on Montlake, he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists piece shot 41.3 percent from the field.

Comb done stat lines of any different Husky and you won’t find any as businesslike as Fultz. That’s why the 76ers forgotten UW’s 9-22 evidence with Markelle at the helm and listed up to nab him in the draft.

What followed, however, was one of the most eccentric unravelings in NBA history. A body part hurt dubbed a “scapular musculus imbalance” supposedly destroyed Fultz’s shot mechanics. But the bare eye suggests he’s merely been septic with the yips.

What Charles Barkley’s swing is to golf, Fultz’s stroke is to basketball. The defense-spreading jump shot that caused scouts to salivate completely disappeared.

It got so bad that Philadelphia listed him to Orlando on Thursday for the middling Jonathon Simmons and a pair of draft picks. It’s far too early to call Fultz the most disappointing top pick the league has ever seen, but he’s out of the gate quickly.

The different Husky is Isaiah Thomas, the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Fultz may be seen as one of the worst archetypal selections, but Thomas was the best final selection.

By his third year in the league, Isaiah was scoring 20.3 points per game. By his sixth year, he was at 28.9 points per game piece leading the Celtics to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

He talked about the “Brinks truck” Boston would have to bring out to re-sign him, as he considered himself a max-contract player worthy of a nine-figure contract. But after suffering a hip hurt in the 2017 playoffs, he ended up inking a minimum contract with Denver last July and has yet to see the floor.

Is Thomas still a guy who’s earned over $30 million playing the sport he loves? Sure. Does that mean you can’t feel sorry for him nonetheless? No.

Two years ago, it wouldn’t have been crazy to think that Fultz and Thomas would be two of the more prominent players in the NBA right now. Markelle was drafted by a club that could reach the NBA Finals behind Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Thomas was on a club that not only had the best evidence in the East, but the No. 1 overall draft pick before it listed down to Philly.

Hell, predicting that Fultz would D up on Thomas in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals wouldn’t have been a stretch. But now? Fultz D’ing up on Thomas in a G League game is a far more likely scenario.

There are some guys in sports whose shortcomings don’t cause you to feel anything. Whether they have inflated egos or are just plain rude, their failures feel like karma is doing its job.

But Fultz and Thomas aren’t like that. They seem like genuinely good dudes facing adversity that few if anybody pictured at this point in 2017.

Frankly, I don’t know how it’s going to turn out for either of them. The 20-year-old Fultz has time on his side, but appears genuinely spooked when he takes the floor. That’s not a quick fix. The 30-year-old Thomas has a heck of a track evidence , but hasn’t been the same since his hurt, and at 5-feet-9, is a defensive liability.

I also don’t know when either will return to the court. Fultz is currently out due to “thoracic outlet syndrome,” which is an hurt involving the nerves between the body part and neck. Thomas, meanpiece, has been rumored to return to the Nuggets’ lineup next week, but he supposedly hasn’t participated in 5-on-5 drills, and may not seem necessary for a team that’s gone 37-18 so far without him.

What I do hope is that it works out for these guys. They’re talented, hard-working players whom every-day folks would like to see succeed.

Their plunges have been tough to watch. Their revivals, on the different hand, would be quite rewarding.

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