The first two years of Markelle Fultz’s career have not gone the way the NBA world expected. Before the NBA, Fultz lit it up at the University of Washington. The 6 foot 4 guard averaged over 23 points and almost 6 assists in his lone college season. His college dominance presented him as the clear cut front runner to be selected first in the NBA Draft in June of 2017. The Philadelphia 76ers selected Markelle Fultz with the first pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. After the draft, things for Fultz started to go downhill.
Only a few games in to his rookie year, Markelle came down with a shoulder injury that would cause him pain when shooting the ball. This hurt his game a lot, because Fultz; being primarily a scorer wasn’t able to shoot a three pointer without shoulder pain. After leading all Power five conference players in scoring the year before, Fultz lost his strength all because of an injury they called Scapular Muscle Imbalance.
Markelle was spending a lot of time trying to fix his shooting form to minimize the pain. It was not easy to watch the struggle he had just to shoot a free throw comfortably. He would ultimately sit out for the majority of the season, which was probably the best choice. Fultz only played 14 games in his rookie year, and the Sixers had the recollection that maybe they should have never traded up to get him.
Fultz would attempt to make a comeback health wise in his second season. He was the starting Shooting Guard in Philadelphia until Jimmy Butler was acquired. The injury didn’t fix itself though, as Fultz was still having shoulder pain when he played. He played just 19 games last year, meaning he has missed over 75% of basketball in his first two seasons. Markelle was traded to the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline in February. He didn’t ever play in Orlando at the end of the year, and spent his time working on trying to stay healthy.
The Magic picked up on his 12.3 million dollar option this offseason, so they definitely believe in him. We sometimes forget how good people were when bad situations such as injuries hurt their careers. Fultz has the talent, I think he can still become a good NBA player, he just didn’t get the easy route in the start of his career. It’s been a while since we have seen Markelle play, and it will be exciting to see the type of career he has.
- Kevin Barnett