Markelle Fultz Impressed In His Debut With The Magic

The Orlando Magic kept their roster almost completely the same this summer, re-signing all their major free agents and making just one real meaningful addition in Al-Farouq Aminu.

As such, the biggest swing player on the Orlando roster is Markelle Fultz, who they traded for at last season’s deadline though he didn’t play as he continued to rehab his shoulder. Given that the weakest part of the Orlando roster is point guard depth, with D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams, Fultz’s return to the court this season has the chance to be the biggest improvement to the roster from last year’s team.

Naturally, there was skepticism about exactly how impactful Fultz could be, but in the opener against the Cavs, he looked better than we’ve ever seen the former No. 1 overall pick. Any offensive success against the Cavs comes with the caveat that they were an historically terrible defense last year, but the optimism for Fultz is more than his production of 12 points and six assists on 6-of-12 shooting. It was the way he did it and the confidence he showed in making decisions on the floor.

The highlight of the game was Fultz storming down court and throwing down a thunderous dunk, causing the crowd to erupt in Orlando.

That was impressive and shows the athleticism and pace he can bring to a Magic team that was dismal in transition a year ago, but his passing acumen was also on display, particularly showing a strong connection with Mo Bamba.

His confidence was unlike anything we’ve seen from him on an NBA floor, and while the jump shot isn’t perfect, it’s miles ahead of where it was, and he was comfortable enough to pull-up off the dribble from the midrange. Attacking the rim is still his bread and butter, though, and his burst and ball-handling skills showed up in the opener.

Simply bringing this kind of dynamic to the Magic’s bench unit, which was not very good a year ago, would be a huge boost for Orlando. The pace he plays with is unlike that of any other guard on the roster, and that change of pace could be very useful for an Orlando team that can fall into a rut. Fultz will surely have his ups and downs as the season progresses, but the opener provided plenty of reason for optimism that he can be a legitimate contributor to the Magic this season as they chase another postseason berth.