Markelle Fultz showing glimpses of what the Orlando Magic’s future will look like

Markelle Fultz is eager to step back onto the court in the regular season for the first time in nearly a year. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz is eager to step back onto the court in the regular season for the first time in nearly a year. (Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic have centered their offense around Nikola Vucevic for much of their rebuild. Markelle Fultz’s emergence has shown glimpses of a new way forward.

Orlando Magic point guard Markelle Fultz has been through it all. The young, shifty 21-year-old was the consensus number one overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

His first three years in the NBA were left facing tough questions as he dealt with a rare shoulder and nerve injury. The intensity of that scrutiny with the Philadelphia 76ers, a promising team in a large media market put a lot of pressure on him to deliver immediately. Markelle Fultz was the end game of the Process.

Fultz failed to live up to it because of injury. But he always had the talent. He was, after all, the top overall pick in a draft that included the likes of Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, and even Orlando’s own Jonathan Isaac.

Right from the first game Fultz played in the preseason with the Magic, he took the whole fan base and franchise by surprise. A player his age, being out for more than a year with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), comes back and shows glimpses of greatness immediately.

Fultz’s Magic teammates right from the start have been in awe of his on-court vision and awareness to find open teammates when both them and the defense least expects it.

Players have said throughout the season that the amazing passes Fultz has completed this season are regular event sin practice. It was some surprise that Fultz took over the starting job within five games. But even that was inevitable.

Fultz’s timely passing is comfort for players. That speaks volumes to the playmaker Markelle is.  Oftentimes, he will drive in the lane and have an easy bucket for himself. But instead, he will opt to pass to a cutting teammate to reward them for their effort.

There is a growing trust with Fultz running the point and getting everyone organized and playing with pace. If there is one good thing about this season, Fultz’s emergence has been it.

Fultz has reclaimed the talent that made him the top overall pick. He probably would not be this year’s rookie of the year, but Fultz has been stellar in what is his first full season in the NBA.

Thus far, Fultz has played 54 out of the 55 Magic games this season and is averaging 11.9 points and 5.0 assists per game. Those numbers are very misleading to say the least, the flashes of potential both offensively and defensively he has shown has been second to none.

He has shown he belongs in the big moments. Everyone is hunger to see more from Fultz.

In an away game against the Phoenix Suns, Fultz had a costly turnover in the final minute of the game. He took it very hard on himself and promised he would learn from that mistake.

A couple of nights later at the Staples Center versus the Los Angeles Lakers, he led the Magic to a hard-fought road win. He had a triple-double with the 21 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds. He delivered a few late pivotal buckets, including a couple over LeBron James.

Throughout the season, coach Steve Clifford has expressed his awe at Markelle Fultz. The usually demanding coach has been complimentary of the young player, praising his basketball IQ and smarts.

Clifford praised Fultz’s work ethic jumping in on extra defensive drills and doing more to try to be a better leader for the team. Fultz has started to take more control over the team as its starting point guard.

That just shows he is simply the type of player the Magic need to be leading them at the pivotal point guard position. A player that leads by example, works his hardest to improve and simply just cares for his teammates a lot.

Magic have had a somewhat disappointing season thus far. Many expected them to be top-five- or six-seed in the East, and that is not even remotely close to what the season has been thus far. But this season has unlocked the Magic a new potential franchise cornerstone in Fultz that they can build around in the near future.

Fultz has hit something of a rookie wall, but he appears to be bouncing back. In his last eight games, he is averaging 13.1 points per game and 7.3 assists per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor. Even his suspect jumper has shown signs of improvement.

As Fultz becomes more and more comfortable with the NBA game and his minutes continue to trend upwards, look for Fultz to show even more glimpses of what type of a player he can become once he is fully developed and reached his potential.

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Fultz right from the very beginning of his tenure in Orlando has taken everybody’s attention. There is no question that he has the talent to become a one-of-a-kind player. It is just on him now to carry on and complete that expectation.