It’s not as if Markelle Fultz career is over if he fails in Orlando. Anthony Bennett is in the D-League after three NBA teams. It takes a lot for the NBA to totally wash their hands of you and a guard like Fultz whose one (still in tact) skill is passing should be able to stick around in some capacity, if he is mentally healthy, which is the grand unknown.
Despite all the talk about Fultz being the biggest bust in NBA History, most don’t know the full NBA History. Chris Washburn was pretty dreadful. Adam Morrison hung around for a cup of coffee and a NBA ring. LaRue Martin was simply horrific. It takes talent to be seven foot tall and shoot 40%. So Fultz has company but it is way too early to talk about Fultz in the past tense. But this is for sure. He is on the clock.
The good thing about the potential resurrection of Markelle Fultz is he doesn’t have far to go to make people change their minds. It can’t get much worse. In two years, he has played 33 games. He has missed 76% of his career, so far. He may be able to turn it around and a couple of solid years will do the trick but he will never be able to escape the number one pick and traded before the end of his second year fiasco. He has to show he has value and can play the NBA game at a high level.
Orlando isn’t known for developing players. They gave up on Victor Oladipo and he became an All-Star. They’ve been patient with Aaron Gordon but he’s a different version of Tobias Harris. It’s questionable if Gordon will ever be a 20 point player. His offensive rating is 107. His PER is 15.3. (In contrast, Julius Randle has a 117 offensive rating and a PER of 21.8). Most likely, Gordon won’t be an All-Star. Sure, they’ve done a good job with Nik Vucevic but can they develop guards?
That is what the Magic are going to have to figure out and for a team not making the playoffs, it’s a nice hit and miss try. If they flame out like Philly flamed out, nothing lost, nothing gained.
Fultz will benefit from the media friendly Orlando market. He won’t have the hard edged Philly fan waiting for the Fultz miracle to occur but this is true too: Philly fan loved Fultz. He represented everything Philly fan understands: potential gone awry, bad luck, situational distress, and often, messed up in the head. He was vulnerable, wasn’t bragging or boasting, or even pouting, and better yet, he didn’t show much anger. He was like your little brother after your little brother has flunked the test to advance him to the next grade. His eyes were sad. But in a true way of the NBA, Fultz is something else too. He is that metaphor of you have to get it done or you are part of someone’s trade package.
Orlando is Disney World. The change of scenery will do Fultz good. He can try to recover. It’s not going to be easy just because the guard position in the NBA is tough. A lot of athletes with impressive torque and finishes at the rim are ready to embarrass somebody. Fultz has it worse than anybody, even say a Lonzo Ball type. He was the number one pick. He is supposed to be a Hall of Famer. Of course, that’s ridiculous. Of the past 20 #1 pick’s, 8 have never been All-Stars. Someone has to be on the other side of the line. Someone has to fail.
And so here Markelle Fultz is. Most of the #1 picks who are guards are can’t miss. Andrew Wiggins. Kyrie Irving. John Wall. Allen Iverson. Derrick Rose. It’s elite company that Fultz is trying to join but at this point just being a rotational player is all anyone is hoping for.