When the Philadelphia 76ers opted to end the Markelle Fultz experiment by trading him to the Orlando Magic, one looming unknown was when he’d return to the court. Fultz, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of the University of Washington, showed up to join the Sixers after the draft and his jump shot had apparently changed.
Following four games of his rookie season, Fultz was sidelined until the end of the year, proceeding to play the final nine games of 2017-18. He also saw action in three playoff games with the Sixers but entered the offseason with the primary focus being on his jumper. Fultz spent the offseason under a spotlight and after less than half of the 2018-19 season, he was dealt to the Magic but didn’t play again all year.
Heading into the 2019 NBA offseason, the health of Fultz, who was diagnosed with Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, remains a hot-button topic. But it appears one NBA analyst is buying into the hype of a big comeback for the 21-year-old guard next year following multiple months to rehab his shoulder.
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Caron Butler Calls Markelle Fultz Healthy
As the Orlando Magic Podcast revealed, former player and current analyst Caron Butler was on the 2019 NBA Summer League broadcast on NBA TV during the Magic vs. Chicago Bulls game. He spoke about Fultz specifically and called him “healthy” while stating that the young guard has “worked his tail off.”
“The guy that no one’s talking about, who’s healthy, who’s worked his tail off right now all summer long is Markelle Fultz. I think he’s going to be a huge addition to this ball club.” Butler stated.
This is big news, especially considering the fact that Butler was represented as a player by Raymond Brothers, who is also Fultz’s agent. It’s unknown if that’s where the info came from, but regardless it’s great to hear if true.
Orlando Magic Starting Job Called ‘Markelle Fultz’s to Lose’
Following the initial statement, Butler was then asked if he views the point guard position for the Magic as a training camp battle or one that Fultz will take. Interestingly, Butler stated that he believes the job is the young guard’s to lose against veteran D.J. Augustin who started last season, per the Orlando Magic Podcast.
“I think this is for Markelle Fultz’s to lose. I think that D.J. is in position as a seasoned vet, that he’s ok being the backup guy or the starter because he’s in position to do both. His true value is because he’s willing to do both. He can start for a franchise or he can come off the bench and he will not miss a beat.” Butler said.
The former small forward, who played 14 years in the NBA, proceeded to explain that having the summer to build his game will benefit Fultz in a big way.
“Markelle Fultz, this is a great opportunity for him to step in and make the seamless transition from Philadelphia, now going into a summer without rehabbing and being completely healthy and now you’re just building on the tangibles of your game. I think that he’s going to be great this year and I think that the Orlando Magic are going to be a team to be reckoned with,” he concluded.
Markelle Fultz’s Injury Situation
After the 2017-18 season, Fultz linked up with NBA player development specialist Drew Hanlen to work on his shot, as it was believed the young guard’s jumper needed to be fixed.
Fultz was unable to return to form in 15 games as a starter last season, and after Philly acquired Jimmy Butler via trade, he was moved to the second unit where he played four games. At that point, it was revealed the second-year guard was diagnosed with Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
The report came from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who cited that Fultz’s agent said it was “severely limiting Markelle’s ability to shoot a basketball.”
Through 33 regular-season NBA games, Fultz has averaged 7.7 points, 3.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 41.4 percent from the field. This includes making just 26.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and 53.4 percent from the free throw line.