A No.1 overall pick, a shoulder injury, and the end of the Process.
Former Washington Husky and No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz has been traded to the Orlando Magic. The Philadelphia 76ers received guard Jonathon Simmons, a first-round pick by way of the Oklahoma City Thunder (top 20 protected), and a second-round.
Unless you’ve been fully ignoring the NBA and Amari Cooper’s endzone celebrations , you’re fully aware that Fultz has been on incredibly unstable ground within the Sixers organization for the last two years. Following the Celtics trading away his draft rights for Jayson Tatum, Fultz failed to make an impact within the Philly process, missing most of his rookie season due to an assortment of injuries, playing in only fourteen games. So far this year, he continues to sit, appearing in just nineteen. His current absence from the Philly lineup is caused by Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, impacting the nerves between the neck and shoulders, restricting movement. Adrian Wojnarowski reported in early December that the approximate range for return could be three to six weeks. Nine weeks and zero games played later, Fultz is the newest member of the Orlando Magic.
What does this mean for Markelle Fultz?
This can’t possibly be a bad thing for Markelle Fultz as a basketball player. Many speculated early on that this was simply a case of the yips and Fultz, when healthy, wasn’t able to perform in the spotlight that the Sixers have become. If that’s true, the Orlando Magic are a perfect fit for him. Currently ten games below .500, the Magic are building towards a future rather than the “win now” mentality of the Embiid-Simmons-Butler-Harris Philadelphia team.
The Magic are comprised of a couple tenured veterans surrounded by quality young talent, namely Aaron Gordon and last year’s No. 6 pick, Mo Bamba. With Bamba and Fultz both under rookie contracts for the next two seasons, coupled with Gordon’s four-year deal he signed this past summer, it’s entirely possible for the Magic to build a contender in the East in the next couple years. If the Magic find themselves in the middle of the draft lottery, this year’s class offers a variety of options to further create a winning environment for Fultz: a true point allowing him to play off-ball, for example.
Returning from an injury can destroy the confidence of a once great shooter like Fultz. Now that he’s away from the Philadelphia hype, he’ll be able to work on his game without the spotlight, getting back to the player we saw at Washington. Fultz will likely join fellow Huskies alum Terrence Ross in the Magic backcourt, backing up D.J. Augustin.