One of the biggest stories for the upcoming season for the Orlando Magic is the development of a player that has not played one regular season minute, but was on the roster last season. Third-year guard Markelle Fultz has been nothing but an a huge question mark during his time in the NBA. But his health could be the difference between not just a playoff spot, but a potential deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Drafted with the Number One overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz’s time in the league has been an interesting journey. After being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, Fultz’s career did not go as planned. An injury known as T.O.C to his shoulder not only effected his shot, but his confidence. If you want a more detailed look into Fultz’s injury click here.
The rest is history on that part of his Philadelphia career. He only played in 33 total games in his two seasons and even though he had a flash or two of the player he was in college, he wasn’t close to the dominating player he was at the University of Washington.
That player averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists a game. He dominated in the pick and roll and was able to get not only himself but he teammates involved. The only thing left Fultz had after everything was the word potential.
A Change Of Scenery
Being placed under huge expectations on a one of the youngest and talented teams in the league, Fultz wasn’t able to show how good he was. He struggled with dealing with an injury that only one NBA player (Ben Udoh) has comeback from and he never played one game in the NBA after recovering. He was expected to be the final piece to the championship puzzle and was never had a chance to grow and develop.
With uncertainty on how to treat and help him to recover, his stock started to drop. The Sixers was having a hard time getting what they thought was equal value for him and declined multiple trade offers. But on February 7th of 2019, Fultz’s Sixers career ended. He was traded to the Orlando Magic, a team that was looking towards the future and had the patience to see what Fultz was able to offer.
Orlando traded Jonathon Simmons, a protected top-20 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and a 2019 second round pick for Fultz.
“I think Markelle’s ceiling – well, put it this way, he was the No. 1 pick in the draft. His ceiling is exceptionally high. I think he’s a 20-year-old player with tremendous potential and I feel confident in saying the league looks at him that way, not just us.”Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman on the acquisition of Fultz
As the Magic caught fire down the streach to win the Southeast Division championship and ended their playoff drought, Fultz waited and rehabbed. But this time, his rehab is was in Orlando with team doctors. The Upper Marlboro, Maryland native was back doing what he loved to do. Playing basketball.
The Magic management waited and was patient with him. The allowed him to work at his own pace. But on top of all of the hard work, Fultz found his smile and the love for basketball started to return. He put himself in great shape and from reports he was starting to look like the player everyone was expecting him to be.
On Sunday night in his 5th preseason game as a member of the Magic, Markelle had a chance to show another glimpse of what Orlando fans could expect from him.
He finished with 12 points, 5 assists and a steal in his 21 minutes of action before he fouled out in the fourth quarter. In his time, he was able to show his play making ability by getting around the Sixers defenders and making passes where only his teammates were able to get the ball.
It’s only preseason and Orlando has one game left before the games count for real, but Markelle Fultz is on the right path to helping the Orlando Magic a contender in the Eastern Conference.