Markelle Fultz Needs a Good Season to Avoid the 'Busts List'
Kwame Brown, Anthony Bennett, Darko Milicic and Greg Oden are names synonymous with the word bust. If there is no improvement from Markelle Fultz this upcoming season he might need to be added to that list of draft busts.
The first pick of the 2017 NBA draft has seen his short career surrounded by clouds of doubt and uncertainty. Fultz started his career with a mysterious shoulder injury that destroyed his jump shooting mechanics. The almost consensus number one player in the NCAA was considered the most versatile scorer in the 2017 draft class. His size and athleticism was superior to everyone in his position paired along with a smooth jump shot. Fast forward three years later and Fultz is going into his third season having only played a total of 33 games in the NBA.
Despite all the troubles that Fultz has faced it is still way too early to completely give up on him. At 21 years of age Fultz has a lot more growing to do and basketball to play. The big theme for Fultz right now is patience, something the Philadelphia 76ers showed they had no time for when they traded him to the Orlando Magic after just one and a half seasons.
In his small sample size of 33 games Fultz has been able to average 7.7 points per game, 3.4 assists per game and 3.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers don’t jump out at you, especially coming from a former first pick. Gladly, you can find optimism beyond just the stat sheet or the box score. Watch Fultz play and you will notice the little things that made him so highly touted during his time in college; the intangibles. His length and athleticism isn’t something that can be ignored especially for the point guard position. Among those games Fultz became the youngest player to ever record a triple double in an NBA game.
The potential of Fultz has been ignored because of the big debacle with his now funky looking jumpshot. The 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 seasons consisted of people trying to breakdown how his shot mechanics got so bad. The concern has seemed to tone down since he was traded to the Magic. The pressure the 76ers presented as contenders wasn’t the conducive climate for the patience and development that Fultz needed. The Magic just might be the fresh start that Fultz needs to turn it around and stay off of the infamous busts list.
What makes a player a bust? It’s how high they get drafted and the players that get drafted after them. Unfortunately, Fultz was the first pick of the draft and he was drafted before players who have proven to be rising stars in the league. Donavan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma are just a few players who were picked after Fultz. Compare what they have done to what Fultz has done up until this point and the case for bust is even stronger.
Fultz will need a solid year to ease the concern and doubt that surrounds him. Playing on a team with a mix of young players and veterans where the expectations aren’t too high is what he needs. An environment where he will have freedom to play and make mistakes is what the Magic will be able to provide him. With a plethora of young players such as Mo Bamba, Johnathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon; the magic have shown that they are building something for the future. Trading for Fultz was a step in the right direction.
A good season from Fultz will consist of at least 12 points a game along with 4 assists and 4 rebounds a game. Solid numbers for a bench player, and as his role increases we will see those numbers increase. Producing and contributing to a team in the playoff hunt will help shift the narrative of Fultz’s young career and help return him to the status he was once held at when he got drafted.