Markelle Fultz’s injury last season in January was a huge blow to the Orlando Magic, who were 6-2 at the time.
He was in the midst of a career season where he said he felt like he was finding his groove and beginning to turn a corner. Orlando was off to a hot start and seemed to have a point guard capable of controlling the pace and even taking over games.
The torn ACL was a road block that would take time for him to recover from. Fultz has had plenty of experience on that long road back from injury, suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome that required extensive rehab to get back onto the floor.
Fultz would be back in that rehab mode to get back on the floor. The question was always: When?
After 11 months, he has joined the team in Los Angeles to practice with the team, Dan Savage from OrlandoMagic.com reported.
Fultz still remains without a timetable for return, however, this is certainly positive news and indicates he is trending in the right direction. Magic will be cautious per usual to ensure Fultz is 100 percent when he puts on the pinstripes.
Fultz participated in the entirety of practice including some 5-on-5 scrimmaging, 3-on-3 drills and shooting drills. There is still no timetable for his return, but this is a significant step forward for the young guard. His traveling with the team, even for these final two games on this road trip, is certainly a sign that his return is imminent, even if he may still need a few practices to get the full clearance to play.
Fultz’s arrival to the Magic lineup will certainly help the team a ton. They have looked lost on offense at times with just Cole Anthony as a natural point guard on the roster. Fultz will make things easier for all players in the lineup with the ball in his hands.
Fultz was off to a great start last season, scoring a career-high 26 points against the Washington Wizards in late December 2020. He will not likely pick up right where he left off, but his control and poise will be key for a team that needs balance.
Fultz was excited to get back on the court with his teammates.
"“It was amazing,” Fultz said after practice Friday. “Just to be back with the team and be with my brothers and with this organization is amazing, but also just to get back into things and be on the road with these guys and get back into that process is, again, just a great experience.”"
Mosley has always spoken very highly of Fultz, even dating back to his Summer League interview in which he complimented Fultz’s basketball IQ. Mosley mentioned how his energy around the team has been superb.
Having him on the court only heightened those compliments. Especially now that his return is in sight.
"“His court presence is great,” Mosley said after practice Friday. “He’s getting back into it, which is really good. His physicality, his basketball IQ, and then just his spirit of the game. What he brings with the communication, the talking, and getting guys involved. He brings so many of those things, so it’s great to have him back on the court”"
Markelle Fultz’s return will be much needed as the Magic lost a key ball handler in Jalen Suggs, who was recently sidelined indefinitely with a fractured right thumb. Anthony will receive some help in ball-handling duties, as Fultz can aid in playmaking.
With Anthony’s emergence as the team’s leading scorer, Fultz can help Anthony solely focus on that part of his game as Fultz helps other players on offense. Fultz being 6-foot-4 certainly helps the Magic as they can employ a backcourt of Anthony and Fultz together in the same way they played Anthony alongside Suggs.
Fultz is still listed as out for Saturday’s game against the LA Clippers. It seems unlikely he would play in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers either.
But his presence with the team and his return to practice is a sign that he is closer and closer to returning to the court.