4 Orlando Magic players in need of a career resurgence
It seems like Markelle Fultz has been in need of a resurgence since he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2017.
The former Washington guard is already entering his sixth year in the NBA but this is more like his second full season in the league after injuries kept him from playing his first three seasons in Philadelphia and a torn ACL kept him out for most of the shortened 2021 season.
It is hard to believe that this summer might be Fultz’s first fully healthy summer without COVID restrictions in place. There is still some optimism he can reach some of the heights his top overall pick promised because he will only be 24 years old by the start of next season.
Fultz did not return from his torn ACL until after the All-Star Break, nearly 14 months after his initial injury in January 2021. The Magic decided to bring him back slowly as he played in 18 total games and started just 3 of those games.
Fultz is not just overcoming his ACL tear from last year though, he will need also need to prove to the organization that he can take the next step.
Thoracic outlet syndrome gave him trouble with his shooting form back when he was with the 76ers. And it is still a condition he is managing and playing through. He has certainly rehabbed enough to be comfortable out on the floor again.
But his shooting percentages are still subpar for today’s standards but they are right in the range of the other young Magic guards at 47-percent from the field and 24-percent from three (he will take threes, but this is obviously not his game for the moment).
On the bright side, last year was not a real indication of what Fultz can really be.
He was put on a minutes restriction and averaged exactly 20 minutes per game.
He averaged 10.8 points per game and gave the team a boost of energy with his speed and playmaking. Fultz gave Magic fans a lot to be excited about.
But he will need to figure out how to play with other young guards Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs when his minutes are increased. He rarely played with either player as the Magic largely let him run the second unit and injuries kept Suggs from joining the lineup much while Fultz played.
Anthony has missed some time with injuries and Suggs just had offseason ankle surgery but they are younger and will be on a longer leash.
Fultz has now had his season back from the injury so next year the Magic will have higher expectations for him. He will hope to pick up where he left off before the ACL injury.
It would not be ridiculous to expect Fultz to take the reigns as their number one point guard.
But he is in a tricky position if he cannot make that jump.
He is under contract for the next two seasons through 2024. If he does not show any signs of becoming the player he was supposed to be then the Magic might move off of him in the future.
And if they select another guard in this upcoming draft then he could be out sooner than later if he does not somewhat produce.
At a certain point if he does not take the next step he would only be clogging the depth chart and preventing the younger guys from developing.
The pressure is certainly on for Fultz.