The Orlando Magic may be experiencing a mediocre start in the season with 11 losses in the first 19 games, but they seem to be winning the Markelle Fultz stakes.
The former number one pick was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome last December and, from that moment, he continued to “walk” his way back to his return, this season.
The Magic took their chances last February, after Fultz’s disappointing stint in Philadelphia, conceding two picks (Top-20 protected 2020, 2nd round that converted to the 21st selection Matisse Thybulle).
The young prospect started from the bottom again, trying to put his career back on track. Last March, Fultz told “The Athletic” that he was getting better each and every day, while he was about to pass his last months of rehabilitation in Orlando, after starting the process of his recovery in Los Angeles.
The 20-year-old guard sat out the rest of the season, watching his teammates compete in the playoffs.
This year was to become the final “judgement” of Fultz’s curious case and up till now the young guard is really close to finding his “mojo” and returning to the bright lights of the league, showing steadily that he is playing again to his potential.
Fultz’s game is getting better and better, especially in this time, in which important pieces of the Magic rotation are on the sidelines (Vucevic).
Fultz is making great strides in the last eight games, averaging a 52.7% in FG% on 11.4 attempts per game and 30.8% from the three-point line on about two attempts per contest.
The Orlando Magic have a +8.2, when Fultz is on floor, scoring about 112.4 points per 100 possessions. Moreover, Fultz’s TS% is up to 58.6% on about a 21% USG% being on the floor for 25-plus minutes in the last eight and having scored +13 points in all of them.
Steve Clifford “slowed” the game down for the young guard and led him to less mistakes and better “reads” against the opponents’ defense.
Moreover, Clifford and the Magic organization lessened the pressure, which came from the fact that Fultz was having serious shootings woes, because of his shoulder condition.
That seemed to benefit the young guard, who is shooting at 80% from the free-throw line in the first 19 games of the season (47% in his rookie year, 56.8% in his sophomore year).
The Magic young core is quite improved this season, with Isaac and Mamba being the “long” two-way combination that could possibly make them a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference in the near future, while Fultz slowly becomes the guard that was expected to be when the 76ers drafted him three years ago.