Markelle Fultz #20 of the Orlando Magic brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets in the second quarter during their game at Spectrum Center on April 07, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)


What does success look like for a player that’s already been labeled a bust?

When it comes to Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz, the answer is complicated.

The former No. 1 overall pick may never live up to the hype that surrounded him when he entered the league in 2017, but that isn’t stopping him from quietly improving while the rest of the NBA forgets about him.

Fultz is in the midst of a career year.

He’s averaging 12.5 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game on fantastic efficiency (50.2 percent shooting from the field and 37.1 percent from deep).

It’s clear how important the University of Washington product is to Orlando’s success, as the team is 5-16 when he doesn’t play this season and 12-13 when he does.

Because of injuries, Fultz has only played in 156 regular season games in the NBA.

That’s…less than two seasons’ worth of games.

He’s essentially a sophomore (or borderline junior) at the NBA level from an experience perspective, and he’s still just 24 years old.

He seems to have found a nice home with the Magic, and they’re certainly happy to have him.

So, what does success look like for Fultz?

The answer to that question may change frequently as he continues to grow at the NBA level.

This season, perhaps success means staying healthy and continuing to be a key contributor for Orlando.

Next season, success could come in the form of another small leap, like a scoring increase while remaining efficient.

Big picture, All-Star selections and other accolades may come, but fans need to be patient.

Just look at Andrew Wiggins, a former No. 1 overall pick who needed eight seasons at the NBA level to be named an All-Star.

Fultz, despite technically being in his sixth NBA season, has played in roughly 27 percent as many career games as Wiggins did before becoming an All-Star.

It’s not too late for Fultz.

With the season he’s having, it’s safe to say that he’s just getting started.

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