The Los Angeles Lakers had their nine-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. Even without Anthony Davis, the team has looked pretty unstoppable, but they came back down to earth. Much of that was thanks to the play of former number one overall pick Markelle Fultz, who put up a triple-double for only the second time in his career.
Fultz’s career hasn’t gone as many thought it would up to this point. He was supposed to come into the NBA and be a star, but he’s struggled thus far. He’s starting to show signs of life with the Magic and LeBron James had some kind words for the young guard.
“Confidence and opportunity,” said LeBron James about how Fultz has been able to turn things around, per ESPN. “They’re confident in him, he’s confident in himself. He’s given an opportunity to go out and play the game how he grew up playing. Everything else takes care of itself. I’ve been supportive of him ever since he was in high school, when he was a rookie in Philly. Been supportive of his situation and still [am] to this day. I’m happy as hell for him.”
It looks like the loss at the hands of Fultz didn’t irritate LeBron too much. He didn’t have his best output of the season as he only scored 19 points. However, he did accumulate 19 assists.
Markelle Fultz Sounds Off
Fultz still has a lot of work to do to live up to his status as a number one overall draft pick. He’s moving in the right direction and he’s gaining confidence.
“What I’ve been through, it just gives me more fire to keep going,” Fultz told ESPN after the game. “I put in a lot of hard work to be where I’m at. I’ve been through a lot, but I never gave up.
“So, it just shows for people out there, whoever is doubting you, whoever is doing something [to you], put something on your mind and if you have something on your mind, go do it. Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t and I’m never going to stop. I’m going to keep working until I can’t play no more.”
Once the Philadelphia 76ers finally gave up on Fultz, it was looking like he was destined to be one of the biggest NBA draft busts ever. A chance of scenery is clearly helping him. He’s still just 21 years old and has plenty of time to continue growing.
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Quinn Cook Chimes In
Fultz has a strong tie with the Lakers as Quinn Cook is from the same area and played at the same high school. Cook didn’t come into the NBA with the same kind of expectations but now finds himself as a key contributor playing for the best team in the West. He expressed his joy for Fultz’s improved play after the game.
“That’s my little brother,” Cook said. “We’re from the same place, same high school. I’ve known him basically his whole life. So just to see him persevere and doing what he’s doing now, it just speaks on what kind of kid he is. Obviously nothing was handed to him his whole life, and especially since he’s been in the league. It’s been tough on him, but he stayed the course, he stayed resilient and he put on a show tonight and I’m so, so, so happy and proud of him.”
In terms of talent, Fultz has as much as anybody in the world. Not every young player is LeBron James from year one. Fultz is already changing the narrative about him and he’ll keep changing it if he continues to play like he did on Wednesday.