Magic’s Markelle Fultz to make season debut on Wednesday vs. Hawks, per report

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Former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has been cleared to make his season debut for the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Fultz has not played yet this season due to a fractured toe he suffered during a preseason workout. 

Injuries have been a consistent problem for Fultz ever since he entered the league. Now set to begin his sixth season, he has still only played 139 career games between the regular season and playoffs. There was a strange shoulder issue during his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers that affected his shooting motion and confidence, and ultimately derailed his tenure with the club. A torn ACL in January of 2021 caused him to miss the majority of both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. 

Now, this fractured toe has held him out of the opening 21 games of this campaign. His return will be a boost to a Magic team that has been decimated by injuries this season. Bol Bol and Franz Wagner are the only players on the roster who have played in every game, while No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, Gary Harris and Cole Anthony have all missed significant time. Poor health has been a major factor in Orlando’s 5-16 record through the first quarter of the season, which is the second-worst mark in the league. 

The good news for the Magic is that they have an exciting young core and there appears to be a bright future ahead. Whether Fultz will be a part of that group long-term remains to be seen, but he is under contract until 2024 and is still only 24 years old. When he has been on the floor in Orlando, he’s shown some flashes of the player that thrilled scouts ahead of the 2017 NBA Draft. If he can stay healthy, he has the talent to still be a productive player. 

When he returned to action at the end of last season, he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists per game on 47.4 percent from the field, and dished out a career-high 15 assists in the finale against the Miami Heat. That playmaking ability should pay off immediately for a Magic team that is currently last in the league with a 53.4 assist rate (percent of baskets that are assisted). Along with Anthony, he’ll also help ease the burden on the likes of Wagner and Banchero, who have been doing a lot of heavy lifting for the Magic this season. 

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