When the Orlando Magic traded for Markelle Fultz last season, there weren't a lot of high expectations around the former No. 1 overall pick going forward. He played in only 33 games over the past two years , and as recent as last month, . The trade was a low-risk situation for Orlando. If Fultz returned to what made him the consensus top pick in the 2017 draft, the Magic would have landed a 21-year-old point guard with a tremendous amount of talent. If he never played another game, which many questioned as a possibility, all Orlando would've given up was a second-round pick and Jonathan Simmons.
Throughout the summer, the Magic teased Fultz's comeback. There were videos of him lifting weights, training with teammates and, of course, displaying his new jumpshot mechanics. It appeared that Fultz had worked past any issues he was dealing with in Philadelphia that caused him to have a hitch in his once-beautiful jumper. It offered a glimmer of hope that Fultz would soon be back to his explosive self, and after making his Orlando Magic debut in the preseason on Saturday, he looks to be on the right track.
Fultz played 17 minutes in his Magic debut against the Spurs, finishing with six points, four assists, two steals along with four turnovers. On one play, Fultz got it done on both ends of the floor. He poked the ball away from Quinndary Weatherspoon, which turned into a fast-break dunk for Fultz at the other end.
After the game, Fultz tweeted out, "First game back!! God is good. This is going to be a good year."
Just taking the floor is a huge accomplishment for Fultz, so the fact that he produced effectively and looked confident and comfortable in taking shots is a huge plus, not only for him, but for the Magic as well. His debut wasn't without obvious areas of improvement, however. Fultz showed some noticeable rust with his four turnovers, which is to be expected from any young guard, especially from one who has been away from the game for so long.
Still, if Fultz continues to show improvement, and his shot starts to become more consistent, then the trade Orlando made for him will be considered a steal. It's not very often a team trades for a former No. 1 overall pick, who at one point was considered a "bust" only to make a 100 percent comeback and prove everyone wrong. That's not to say that Fultz is anywhere near his pre-injury self, but his debut proved that he can still play in this league.
"It was really just a blessing, I give all the praise to man up top, God," Fultz told reporters after the game. "I'm just happy I was able to step on the floor and compete."
If Fultz can become Orlando's go-to backup point guard, they'll have a serious one-two punch with him and Terrence Ross coming off the bench. For a team that is looking to build on their postseason appearance from a season ago, being able to count on Fultz going forward is a major bonus.