Markelle Fultz is still a mystery as he recovers from thoracic outlet syndrome. Now there is some video of him shooting jumpers as he takes his next step.
The team acquired the former top overall pick at last year’s trade deadline for the little-used Jonathon Simmons and a draft pick that was not likely to convey (especially now that the Oklahoma City Thunder have traded away their star players). It was a low-risk move that could reap huge potential rewards.
Markelle Fultz has struggled to stay on the floor dealing with a knee injury that lingered from college and then a shoulder injury that would not go away. There seemed to be some dispute about what that injury was before he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome.
The Magic have expressed their willingness to be patient with his recovery and make sure that when he returns he will be back for good and ready to continue his development and his career.
The organization has not put any timetable for his return with this thought in mind. The Magic did not want to put pressure on Fultz to hurry back quicker than his body would allow. They see a long-term vision with him. And players are excited about his work ethic and what he could be.
But the real answer is no one knows. He has not been seen on a basketball court since Nov. 19. There is a fair bit of impatience from fans left in the dark just to know what to expect from him. Inserting a healthy and productive Fultz has the potential to change this team.
Fultz fell off so much from the clear-cut, unanimous top overall pick of a loaded 2017 NBA Draft to someone who struggled to shoot. It was the deterioration of his shot that had most of the NBA world mystified, clearly a byproduct of the thoracic outlet syndrome that caused pain radiating from his shoulders.
Now, there is at least some video proof that he has made progress. And video proof that he can still hit a jumper. An encouraging sign to say the least.
Fultz is hosting a weeklong basketball camp at his high school DeMatha High School in Washington, D.C. and then another video was posted from his work at the Mamba Sports Academy in Los Angeles. Fultz is indeed looking healthy and getting his work on in the court.
Both videos were taken down from Twitter shortly after they were posted. But a few sites were able to save them:
Does this mean Fultz is ready to play meaningful basketball tomorrow?
Probably not. It does not look like he is playing at game speed. But it is encouraging to see him taking jumpers even at this pace and looking comfortable doing so.
This kind of work is more reminiscent of the player who averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in college. He was a tour de force on the court, able to score seemingly at every level, attacking the rim and pulling up for mid-range jumpers as he does in the video here.
This is all an encouraging sign. Perhaps the videos got taken down from their original source because everyone is trying to keep expectations low.
There is no indication at this point that Fultz will be ready for camp. This only shows that Fultz is working and doing basketball activity. There is no sign that this is every day or that he is doing this without pain. Those are the important factors to his debut in a Magic uniform.
It is important here to remember that Fultz’s injury never truly prevented him from playing. He was dealing with his shoulder issues throughout the last two seasons and still producing a fair amount. The Magic are hoping to get him playing consistently moving forward.
In 33 games in two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 7.7 points per game and 3.4 assists per game in 20.6 minutes per game. He was able to attack the basket and rack up stats, even producing a triple-double in his short stint on the floor.
His shooting was the problem. Fultz has shot 41.4 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc in his career. It was clear his shooting was deteriorating as his shoulder injury worsened. And that is why he shut down.
Seeing him shooting jumpers smoothly and seeming shooting comfortably is the most encouraging part of this video. He has at least reached that step in his recovery.
Where he goes next is the part that remains a mystery. Especially since the original source of these videos took them down.
Fultz is at least moving forward. There is video proof of this progress now.