Year by year Markelle Fultz has improved since arriving in Orlando.
It has not always been noticed. Orlando Magic fans certainly know it. they saw him jump into the starting lineup early in the 2020 season and tear up the league through the first eight games in the 2021 season before a torn ACL put him on the shelf and out of mind.
The entire offseason, many pundits wondered if the Magic would make an aggressive move to improve their point guard position. Fultz remained an afterthought.
Not to the Magic or their fans. They saw Fultz appear to get his bounce back toward the end of the season. As he passed the mythical one-year mark since returning from his ACL injury, he showed flashes of the player who was the runaway top overall pick in his draft class.
The Magic are a team that is fighting for its notice. And so their starting point guard needs to show he has not hit his ceiling. This is the season Fultz needs to put it all together and reach a new level few expect.
Markelle Fultz has had a long journey to find health and stability. For the Orlando Magic to improve, Fultz neds to put it all together with a strong and healthy season.
In a contract year for Fultz, this is the year for the veteran guard to cement his hold as the team’s point guard moving forward.
The Magic are getting ready to make tough decisions after this season. At 24 years old, Fultz is primed to take the next step in his career.
The Magic are beyond individual talent, but how those talents play together. Now not only is it important for Markelle Fultz to make improvements to his game, but to also figure out how to play next to young stars Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.
As of now, Fultz sitting in a corner is not helping out Wagner and Banchero as teams are more willing to clog the paint. As Fultz continues to improve as a shooter the paint will open up for his teammates trying to attack the paint.
As an individual Fultz had a great end to last season averaging 15.6 points and 6.0 assists per game after the All-Star Break. Fultz also shot 53.3 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from beyond the arc in the final 22 games after the All-Star break.
Overall for the year, Fultz shot 31 percent from three. That was a career-high — as was his 14.0 points per game and 5.8 assists per game for the season. Fultz continues to improve each season and has had a healthy offseason to continue to work on his game.
Outside of counting stats, Fultz’s strengths are parts of the game that do not show up on the stat sheet: The ability to control the pace and the game itself. The ability to run an offense and stabilize the team. Fultz’s IQ of being able to play on and off the ball is also one of his strengths.
This is illustrated early in the season when the Magic continuously lost large leads while Fultz was out. After the All-Star Break, the Magic had a +0.8 net rating with Fultz on the floor. For the entire season.
But the Magic were still surprisingly an overall net negative with Fultz on the floor. Orlando had a -3.7 net rating with Fultz on the floor for the entire season (110.3/114.0 offensive/defensive rating split).
There is a ceiling of being able to play off the ball without the ability to consistently make an opposing team pay for leaving him open as a shooter.
Fultz will need to continue to improve as a shooter to start to create gravity for himself and become a threat from beyond the arc. No one is expecting a 40-percent shooting year, but if Fultz is able to increase his percentage to about 35-36 percent from three, then his game will open and evolve to the next level.
Fultz is already able to get to the rim as he pleases and has the feel of the game of when to move off the ball. But as of now, Fultz does not have the respect as a three-point shooter so teams rather pack the paint and limit the Magic’s offense to an extent.
If Fultz is able to improve as a shooter it will spread defenses and open the floor for himself and his teammates.
Fultz has become a respectable scorer shooting 51.4 percent from the field which ranks 31st in the NBA. Fultz has been able to become an efficient scorer from the midrange and around the rim. The shooting element is just so big to expanding his game.
The rest is about the details. Fultz can sometimes wonder a bit offensively and turn the ball over. Like the rest of the team, Fultz has to tighten up details. The details that help a team win.
From there his talent should finally come through. His athleticism to finish above the rim caught many by surprise. Then came the peculiar pace he often played at that kept defenses off balance. It is about putting all the pieces together so he can finally take his step up.
The Magic are banking on internal improvements in order to take the next leap as a team. The majority of the question marks are on the offensive end, especially in the shooting category.
Fultz is under that umbrella of questioning. The Magic are going to start to shape the roster and this is the season for Fultz to take the next step after a strong finish last season. This is the season for Fultz to declare himself as the point guard of the future.