After two rough years to start his NBA career, former number one pick Markelle Fultz is finally showing that he belongs in the NBA. It’s been a tough journey for Fultz, who famously struggled with his shot for reasons unknown and had his confidence put through the wringer during his first two seasons in the league. Now, with a secure place in Orlando and the rest of the league taking notice, Fultz is capturing the attention of LeBron James, who praised him for his growth.
Markelle Fultz’s roller-coaster ride in the NBA
After a great playing career at DeMatha Catholic High School, Fultz spent his lone year in college at Washington’s storied basketball program. There, he immediately got the attention of NBA scouts as he effortlessly put up 23 points per game and nearly six rebounds and assists. Fultz was looking to be a sharpshooter, going 41% from downtown in college. At just 19 years old, teams couldn’t wait to see what he’d have at the next level.
Something changed after the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Fultz — a pick they traded up to get. He struggled to hit shots, and even worse, people began to notice that his form, once lauded during his college career, now had a hitch that Fultz was struggling to get rid of. He even shot his field goals differently than people had seen before.
There was lots of speculation about his “broken jumper,” but Fultz insisted that his new form was something that he had been exploring for some time. Despite that, his numbers showed that he was struggling to shoot. The hitch was later blamed on a shoulder injury. After being medically cleared, however, Fultz’s shot remained off. Fultz told former NBA player Caron Butler that he needed to relearn his shooting form, which raised some red flags.
Those struggled plagued the first two years of Markelle Fultz’s NBA career, and he only played in 33 games over those two years, shooting 26.7% from three in the process.
Is Markelle Fultz fully back?
Several people attributed Fultz’s struggles to his confidence. When he headed Orlando halfway through his second year, the team allowed him to spend the rest of the season working on getting his mind and body into the game. By the time the 2019 season was rolling along, Fultz was finally ready to play. While the shot still struggled, his confidence was at another level and continues to be halfway through the season.
Fultz has played in 47 games through January 30, and he is shooting 46% from the field. While his 25% from three-point range isn’t exactly where the Magic desired him to be, he isn’t holding himself back anymore, and that confidence has people hoping that he can get to the promising level expected of him as a former number one pick.
At nearly 12 points per game, three rebounds, and four assists, Fultz has shown enough to become the Magic’s starting point guard, and others are beginning to notice.
Fultz receives praise from the King, LeBron James
LeBron James was recently asked about Fultz and didn’t hold back any praise for the young guard as he comes into his home.
“He’s been given the opportunity to go out and play the game how he grew up playing,” James said. “I’ve been supportive of him ever since he was in high school, as a rookie in Philly, through his situation, and ’til this day. I’m happy as hell for him.”
Markelle Fultz has the league behind him as he continues the journey to regaining his shot and proving his place in a relentless league. He still has a ways to go before he can be the star that people wanted him to be, but if he can keep on growing his confidence and skills, the 21-year-old may still be able to show that promise he had three years ago.