Stinar: There’s still hope Magic guard Fultz can meet expectations

Magic guard Markelle Fultz was drafted by the 76ers with the top overall pick in 2017.

Up until four months ago, Markelle Fultz could not even legally drink alcohol. If he were a regular kid and not the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz would be entering his senior year of college.

Taking all of that into consideration, you still want to call him a bust? Do some even say the biggest bust in NBA history?

Be careful.

Is there reason for concern when it comes to Fultz? Of course. I am not going to get into the injury, the speculations and all of that other stuff. I am here to acknowledge instead that a 21-year-old point guard who was thought to be a potential superstar can still be an outstanding NBA player.

Fultz is 6-foot-4 and beginning his first full season with the Orlando Magic. Not only does he still have a chance to succeed, but he is in an even better situation than when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers. With the Sixers, he was supposed to be the prized possession.

Remember when they spent years tanking to get Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and eventually, Fultz? There was a lot of pressure to be a star in that situation. With the Magic, he is a young point guard who was acquired for Jonathan Simmons, a heavily protected first-round pick and a second-round pick.

Suddenly, the expectation is to be serviceable instead of extraordinary.

In Orlando, the goal is the playoffs right now, but in Philly, it’s to win a championship. This is the kind of team that Fultz can not only grow with, but that can afford to be patient. It’s worth remembering that Michael Carter-Williams, the former Rookie of The Year (ironically, for the 76ers) saved his career with the Magic last season. There were nowhere near the expectations for Fultz because Carter-Williams is now a veteran bench player. However, the premise remains the same. The Magic only need Fultz to be serviceable. If he becomes great, then all the better.

With the Magic, Fultz is now like a mid-to-late first-round pick if you’re going by his trade value. Most players drafted in the 16-30 range do not become All-Stars. However, if they do, the franchise isn’t complaining.

Maybe the best part is Fultz is going to be molded to be the Magic’s point guard. Simmons is the 76ers’ point guard, and that is not likely to change for the next half-decade. D.J. Augustin was the point guard in for the Magic last year. He’s a solid player but clearly at the end of his career. There is no long-term competition from anyone internally to compete for what will could be Fultz’s job. With or without him, the Magic are expected to make another playoff push. He’s only the icing on the cake.

Fultz will always be known as the No. 1 overall pick, and if he does not become an All-Star, he will almost be certainly labeled a bust. But I still believe he has a legitimate chance to develop into that All-Star caliber player. However, as long as he is serviceable in Orlando, he’ll have fulfilled his role for the franchise.