Sports | January 16, 2020 9:54 am

Former No. 1 NBA Pick Markelle Fultz Proving He’s Not a Bust

Fultz is averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 assists in 27 minutes per game this season

Former No. 1 NBA Pick Markelle Fultz Proving He's Not a Bust
Markelle Fultz of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball. (Scott Taetsch/Getty)
Getty Images

Drafted No. 1 overall in 2017 by the 76ers ahead of players like Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell, Markelle Fultz played in just 33 games over two seasons in Philadelphia with averages of 7.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

During his time in Philly, Fultz struggled badly with his shot and made just 41.4-percent of his attempts from the floor and .534 of his attempts from the line.

Though some of the shooting woes were blamed on a nerve condition in his shoulder and neck, there were also loud whispers that Fultz simply couldn’t hack it in the NBA the way he had while starring at the University of Washingon.

Tired of waiting for Fultz to pan out, the 76ers traded him to the Orlando Magic for journeyman Jonathon Simmons and a pair of picks prior to this season.

Now healthy, Fultz is averaging 11.7 points and 4.6 assists in 27 minutes per game this season and is shooting .462 percent from the floor and, in a clear indication that his shooting has improved this season, .739 from the line.

Fultz’s resurgence was on clear display last night as the Magic, despite missing key rotation players Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac and D.J. Augustin, were able to knock off LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, 119-118.

Fultz was the star of the game for the Magic and notched the second triple-double of his career with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

“What I’ve been through, it just gives me more fire to keep going,” Fultz told ESPN after the game. “I put in a lot of hard work to be where I’m at. I’ve been through a lot, but I never gave up. So, it just shows for people out there, whoever is doubting you, whoever is doing something [to you], put something on your mind and if you have something on your mind, go do it. Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t and I’m never going to stop. I’m going to keep working until I can’t play no more.”

Even though he lost to Fultz and the Magic last night, James is glad to see how the 21-year-old has been able to turn around his NBA career.

“I’ve been supportive of him ever since he was in high school, when he was a rookie in Philly,” James said. “Been supportive of his situation and still [am] to this day. I’m happy as hell for him.”

Pretty high praise for a bust.

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