Markelle Fultz expected to make season debut Monday

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz is set to make his return from a torn ACL on Monday. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz is set to make his return from a torn ACL on Monday. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Before every home game for much of the last month and half, Markelle Fultz has been on the court with coach Bruce Kreutzer.

He would go through his paces, a series of shots on the perimeter at different spots, 3-pointers and free throws. It would not be full speed, but it would be a little something. A tantalizing glimpse of how close Fultz was to getting back on the court.

Everyone just needed some patience as the anticipation grew.

For many, it is the only glimpse anyone has gotten from him as he recovers from a torn ACL. The only time he has been on the Amway Center floor with others able to watch since he tore his ACL on Jan. 6, 2021. It has become a Zapruder film of sorts as people try to break down his shot and wait for word on when he returns.

Behind the scenes, media have been able to watch him go through more intense paces after practices where he would often be seen playing three-on-three or two-on-two it what looked like full contact.

Fultz remained a whisper and a rumor.

He is a whisper and a rumor no more.

Markelle Fultz is expected to make his debut for the Orlando Magic on Monday as he returns from a torn ACL 13 months ago.

Fultz announced on the latest episode of the Orlando Magic Pod Squad released Saturday he plans to make his return to the court Monday against the Indiana Pacers, ending a 13-month rehab from a torn ACL.

"“I’m just blessed to be able to one be where I am today after going through an injury like this and being able to fight and be back on the court with my brothers and friends,” Fultz said to open the podcast. “I’m thankful for the process and the journey I have been through. I’m very excited to get out there with my teammates and go out there and compete and just get back into the groove of things.”"

Fultz was having a career-changing season, averaging 12.9 points per game and dishing out 5.4 assists per game as he helped Orlando get off to a fast start. His torn ACL eight games through the season changed the season. Orlando had to turn to rookie Cole Anthony to man the point as injuries began to pile up.

It is hard to predict how much Fultz’s injury last year changed the trajectory of the Magic’s franchise. The team Fultz is rejoining is different than the one he left.

It is an exciting young team with plenty of potential and plenty of room for growth. And Fultz is eager to get out there with this new crop of players. He is excited to find Franz Wagner on cuts, rub off Wendell Carter screens and play alongside Cole Antony and Jalen Suggs.

He said he is really excited to see what the team can do defensively now too. Fultz is ready to dive right in.

Fultz is just thankful to be playing. And eager to return after missing so much time.

Fultz has dealt with plenty of injuries in his career to this point. In four seasons, he has played just one full season — 72 games in 2020 where he averaged 12.1 points per game and dished out 5.1 assists per game while shooting a 48.8-percent effective field goal percentage.

He had to handle thoracic outlet syndrome that has severely limited his shooting and his fluidity off the dribble. That is still something he is dealing with.

But Fultz has been through the rehab process before. And that has helped him get ready for this return and recovery.

Fultz said on the podcast he feels like he is in the best physical shape of his career. He feels confident he will be able to get to his spots on the block and in the paint — his “kill spots.” Certainly, he will still have to prove he can shoot it effectively to progress.

But getting back into the rhythm of playing will help answer many of those questions. Fultz just needs to get out there and play.

That is something that simply cannot happen until he gets on the floor. He still has to find his fit with a new coaching staff and new teammates.

But like the fans who have been hanging on every morsel they can find of Fultz, Fultz is excited to get out there too. He is excited to get back out with his teammates and to get his feel back on the court.

Fultz’s return is no longer theoretical. It is something that will actually happen.

Next. Orlando Magic quickening pace, but still seeking balance. dark

Monday is the day. Fultz is back.