Fultz, who’s entering his third NBA campaign, has only appeared in 33 regular season games since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2017 due to a well-documented shoulder injury. He was acquired by Orlando in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, a first-round pick and a second-round pick this past February.
“Every day I go back out there I get more and more comfortable. I get used to being back out there,” Fultz said. “It’s been so long for me that I’m just happy to be out there and I’m just trying to learn and play as hard as I can.”
Fultz failed to live up to the high expectations with Philadelphia, but at just 21 years old and finally healthy, he could help propel Orlando in the race for the Eastern Conference playoffs this season.
In six preseason games with Orlando, Fultz averaged 6.7 points, four assists and 1.8 steals per contest off the bench. Despite his exact role being immediately unclear, both Fultz and the Magic recognize that he’s headed in the right direction.
“I mean, we’ll see,” coach Steve Clifford said of Fultz’ role in the rotation. “Markelle needs to do, in my opinion, what Markelle has done since he got here: have good days. Have a good day tomorrow. That’s what the best players do. That’s what the best teams do: is have good days, [and] put good stretches of days together. Be better Friday than he is Tuesday. I think that in my experiences that’s what the best players do, [and] that’s what the best teams do.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:
- Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas participated in a full practice Saturday and hopes to play in Wednesday’s season opener against Dallas, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, head coach Scott Brooks isn’t ready to commit on a potential Thomas return just yet. “I’d love to have him for the first game,” Brooks said on whether Thomas would play. “We’ll see. Probably not, but we’ll see.”
- Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel provides additional details on Dion Waiters‘ suspension, including his decision to make some rather questionable posts on social media in wake of the announcement. The suspension stems from a heated conversation between Waiters and head coach Erik Spoelstra after Waiters played only 10 minutes in the Heat‘s final preseason game on Friday.
- Hornets coach James Borrego is taking a different approach entering his second season with the team, asserting his authority more while ensuring that he remains a good listener and keeps a positive attitude, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. “I feel like J.B. probably too much, to an extent, last (season) tried to keep everybody happy,” Marvin Williams said of Borrego. “I think this (season), he’s much more comfortable with people. He understands who we are as people and players. He’s just in a better place because of that.”