Markelle Fultz Has Played His Role Perfectly With the Orlando Magic

By Ben Stinar
Markelle Fultz pregame warmup.
Markelle Fultz pregame warmup. / Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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Markelle Fultz has been everything he needs to be in Orlando.

Serviceable.

With the Magic, he is not the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. Instead, he is a player who they acquired in a trade for minimal compensation. His role is to be a productive young point guard, and anything else is a bonus. As of right now, the third-year guard is averaging 12.0 points and 4.1 assists per game and shooting 47.9% from the field. Those numbers are not earth shattering, but he is doing this as the starting point guard on a team who would find themselves in the playoffs if the season ended today.

With the Magic, not only are the expectations lower, but they're a team that is still growing. The 76ers are currently in NBA-Finals-or-bust mode. The Magic are a young exciting team, which allows them to be patient with Fultz's development.

"It's been great," Fultz told me in October after the Magic lost to the Hawks. "They've been open arms, being patient with me, just taking my time and everything."

At just 21-years-old, he is only the age of a college senior. I try and remind people of this regularly when they want to blindly call him a bust.

There is no way to tell what a finished product will look like on Fultz's career. He is nowhere near his prime, and has so much to still learn about the NBA. In Orlando, he is able to be more appreciated and low-key. There is no media storm like last season surrounding his injury, and as a whole Orlando is a quieter market than Philadelphia. In any line of work, a change of scenery is something that can be beneficial.

On top of the noise that there has been off the floor--he is a point guard--and the 76ers already have a franchise point guard in Ben Simmons. His fit with the 76ers couldn't have ever been a perfect marriage. There will never be an opportunity to be the lead ball-handler with the 76ers unless Simmons is out of the picture.

On the contrary, the Magic are in need of a franchise point guard. This franchise is able to look at Fultz as someone to fill a role that they desperately need.

"They've given me the support that I needed and the resources that I needed to do everything I'm doing," he said about the Magic.

Shortly after the Magic traded for Fultz last season, I gave my candid opinion. He is a former No. 1 one overall pick who at the time is only in his second NBA season.

This move for the Magic is a no-brainer. There is a reason he is a former top pick, and they acquired him for relatively nothing.

Ultimately, he is the starting point guard on a team that is currently the eighth seed in the East. Just last week he put up 20 points on 53% shooting with 6 assists. Over the past eight games he is averaging 14.3 points, 5.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. This kind of production is exactly what the doctor ordered for point guard play for the Orlando Magic. His role is being filled to a tee.

"I think I want to improve on my ball-handling, my shooting, my defense, helping my teammates, everything on the court," he told me. "I'll never be there until I'm done finished playing basketball, so I just want to work on everything."

Fultz is one of the youngest players in the NBA, in a good situation and has all the talent of someone who can be a very good player.

There is no reason to think any different.

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