Orlando Magic’s 5 best trades of the last 10 years
4. The Fultz experiment is paying off
The trade to acquire Markelle Fultz showed Jeff Weltman was ready to be patient with the roster. He bought low on a former first-overall pick and gave him room to find himself. All while his team on the floor was building momentum for a surprise playoff run.
The Philadelphia 76ers were deep into playoff contention so they wanted to find win-now talent and acquire what draft capital they could for Fultz, whose injuries kept him from even seeing the floor.
Jonathon Simmons was a lackluster acquisition for the Sixers. He only suited up in 15 games averaging 5.5 points per game. He did not last in Philadelphia after the season in which they acquired him.
Fultz was given the remainder of that season after the trade deadline deal to rehabilitate and be ready for the following season. He ended up starting 60 games and found a lot of his former self during the 2020 season with really only the pandemic slowing down his ascent and confidence.
Injuries have plagued Fultz’s career so far, but the Magic are excited to give Fultz a full offseason to work on his game and prepare for next year.
Whether Fultz takes a step remains to be seen. But at the time the deal went down it seemed like a huge win for Orlando, only giving up a late first-round pick and second-round pick for a former number-one pick.
It was a gamble the Magic front office was willing to take, and through 158 games it seems like Orlando made a reasonable decision to find a future starting point guard who is starting to gain confidence in his game.
The deal would be much higher on the list, but the 76ers used the 2020 1st rounder to select Tyrese Maxey.
Maxey is unlike most late first-round picks and has the second-highest win shares out of the entire draft class behind All-Star Tyrese Haliburton. Maxey averages 15.4 points per game and is a much better shooter and scorer than Fultz.
However, Fultz runs the offense and averages more assists, rebounds and steals over his career. Fultz is only two years older than Maxey but has technically been in the NBA for three more years.
Fultz averaged 5.7 assists per game last season which is 40th in the NBA. However, he also averaged the sixth fewest minutes played out of the top 40. Fultz can facilitate, and he is doing so on a team without a lot of knockdown shooters.
Maxey and a second-round pick for Markelle Fultz seems like a win for Philadelphia, but Fultz still has an extra step in his game. We will see if he gets there, but his skill as a distributor on offense is vital for the Magic.
The overall grade on this trade remains to be seen, and if Fultz can take a big leap in the coming seasons it might be farther up this list. Before Maxey stepped on an NBA court Fultz had played his best season playing in 72 games and leading the team to the playoffs.
In five playoff games, he averaged 12.0 points per game and shot 37.5 percent from three. He looked to take a significant step before tearing his ACL 8 games into the following season.
Fultz has shown promise, but for now we have to compare Markelle to who the 76ers acquired in the deal.