Despite not seeing any action yet, former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz believes the Magic have a perfect system that will fit his game when he returns, John Denton of NBA.com writes. The Magic acquired Fultz in a deal before February’s trade deadline, pushing their vision to include him in pick-and-roll sets with Aaron Gordon and others once he recovers from injury.
“Pick-and-rolls are one of my favorite parts of the game, and as everyone knows, that’s the way that I played in college,’’ Fultz said. “I think (the Magic’s system) is almost perfect for me. I think I’m a versatile player, but with the screen-and-roll (system) and the players that we have here, I think it’s going to be very fun.”
Fultz has spent much of the season rehabbing in Los Angeles, but his rehab schedule shifted to Orlando this week so he could get adjusted with his new team, according to Denton. For Fultz, being around the team while sidelined is imperative as he continues to progress in his journey back to the court.
“I think it’s going to help me a lot, just being around the guys and seeing the (offensive) plays,’’ Fultz said. “When you’re sitting down watching, you see a lot of stuff that you miss while you are playing. So, I’m just soaking it all up right now. I’m getting to see the team practice, and then during games I can see where I could see myself playing and how I could help the team.’’
Fultz, 20, has played just 35 games since being drafted by the Sixers in 2017. The Magic hope he can become the team’s point guard of the future, though this largely depends on how his rehab progresses throughout the year.
There’s more today out of the Southeast Division:
- Jabari Parker has found his groove since being acquired by the Wizards in a trade last month, Zach Rosen of NBA.com writes. Parker started the 2018/19 season in Chicago with an uneven role, but he’s consistently produced off Washington’s bench since the trade. “It’s crazy – just to see the turnaround,” teammate Bobby Portis said. “Seeing him come from Chicago not in a happy situation. Then being here and having coaches who really believe in his game, I think that’s really rejuvenating for him.”
- Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines the returns of the Bulls–Wizards trade that featured Parker, Portis and Otto Porter from February. Since completing the deal, Washington holds a record of 8-10 and Chicago holds a record of 9-10. Porter moved from the Southeast Division over to the Central Division with the trade to Chicago, giving the Bulls production at the starting small forward spot in the weeks that followed.
- Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel details the long, tough path Khem Birch took before making the NBA, with the 26-year-old now seeing consistent playing time as a big man off the Magic’s bench. “Two years ago I was on the Syrian border on New Year’s Eve thinking if I’m ever going to come back home and play basketball in America,” Birch said. “I actually look back to when I was over there in Europe, and it made me a stronger person and it made me mature more.” Birch, who went undrafted in 2014, has earned double-digit minutes in every contest with Orlando since the start of February.