Sixers fans, you've got your wish.
Markelle Fultz is playing.
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The 2017 No. 1 overall pick will return Monday against the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP). Because of a shoulder injury, the 19-year-old rookie has not played in a game since Oct. 23, the fourth of the season.
"I'm so proud of him, the people around him have done great things," an emotional Brett Brown said pregame. "I give that kid credit. He will be with us tonight."
Fultz will see backup point guard minutes.
Fultz's short tenure with the Sixers has been marred by injuries. After the Sixers pulled off a deal with Boston to select him with the top overall pick in the draft, the guard had an impressive showing in summer league only to suffer a left ankle injury. Then he dealt with soreness in his right knee that slowed him during training camp.
The most serious blow was Fultz's shoulder, which he initially attempted to play through. That had a severe impact on his shot mechanics until the Sixers decided to shut him down indefinitely. Fultz then visited multiple specialists and went through rigorous rehab until he was reintegrated into the team.
Now after a 68-game absence, Fultz is finally stepping back on the floor.
"This has been a laborious effort to have him recover from this injury, it's no different than any other athlete that suffers an injury," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said (more from him here). "In this case, this recovery took a little bit longer than expected, he feels comfortable and confident in getting back out there. At the end of the day, that's what we relied on - his comfort level and desire to get back out there. We've been on this from Day 1 and when it was finally determined what the cause of the muscle dysfunction was, and we went through the process of figuring out the right steps to overcome that, he has gotten himself in a position where he's comfortable."