Orlando Magic point guard Markelle Fultz shining like Penny Hardaway

Markelle Fultz's thrilling first half of the season is already drawing comparisons to the Orlando Magic's best players. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz's thrilling first half of the season is already drawing comparisons to the Orlando Magic's best players. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Markelle Fultz’s first half of the season has him already comparing favorably to the best point guards in Orlando Magic history.

Markelle Fultz is just starting to hit his stride with the Orlando Magic.

He was a star last week against two of the better point guards in the NBA. He dueled against De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers. Markelle Fultz fared well, displaying his full arsenal of tricks and capabilities as a point guard.

He scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting in that win over the Kings and then his second career triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the win over the Lakers.

The performances on that West Coast trip were exciting and thrilling. The 21-year-old point guard had put together a lot of games like this. Fans are eager to see more of Fultz and see him take on more responsibilities.

It is easy to get excited with Fultz with how he has played.

It has been a long time since Magic fans have been this excited for a young point guard prospect. The way Fultz squeezes passes through tight windows and takes control fo the game is getting him compared to some of the very best point guards in Magic history.

It is easy to let the imagination run wild.

Markelle Fultz is already starting to get comparisons to Anfernee Hardaway, probably the best point guard in team history. The slick 6-foot-7 guard redefined the position for the Magic becoming the dynamic guard who dazzled with his speed and athleticism. Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal formed a lethal duo that led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995.

Hardaway was no sharp-shooter. He used his height and dynamic passing to finish at the rim and find teammates spread around the 3-point line. He was a lethal weapon for the Magic, dissecting opposing defenses, penetrating into the lane and finding open teammates.

Similar to Fultz’s taking his man to the hoop at any chance he gets and making the pass or finishing strong.

Fultz, at 6-foot-4, is the closest comparison to Hardaway that Magic have had at the point guard position.

In his third season, Fultz is 21-years-old and the same age as Hardaway in his senior year with the Memphis State Tigers (now Memphis, where Hardaway is the team’s coach).

Fultz’s numbers are similar to Hardaway’s rookie numbers at the age of 22. Fultz is averaging 11.9 points and 4.6 assists per game. Hardaway averaged 16.0 points and 6.6 assists his rookie year.

Fultz is probably not at Hardaway’s level then. It is easy for fans’ imaginations to run wild. Especially since the Magic have been so starved at point guard. Especially with dynamic guards who seem to have the ability to get into the lane at will and finish above the rim on occasion.

Without a doubt, the Magic have found someone special in Fultz. His penetration into the lane and his ability to sling passes around like Hardaway is something to be seen. He puts a little emphasis on his passes displaying the flashiness that Hardaway once did.

The Magic have had their share of big guards since Hardaway was traded away in 1999, but none have compared as favorably as Fultz. None have generated this kind of excitement either.

Fultz may not be Hardaway. They are, in fact, very different players. Fultz has to keep developing his jump shot to be effective in this modern NBA. Orlando has not quite turned the whole offense over to him. He has a 20.9-percent usage rate, a fairly low number for a point guard.

Hardaway, for instance, posted a 21.7-percent usage rate his rookie year. It only grew from there. Similarly, the Magic must hope that they can expand Fultz’s role within the offense as he continues to improve.

Next. Orlando Magic first half MVPs: Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. dark

One thing is for sure. The future is bright for Fultz and he could be an All-Star one day. At the least, he could be the Magic’s point guard for the foreseeable future. A core player the Magic want to build with.