With the Sixers, Markelle Fultz didn't exactly emerge as expected. After getting selected first overall by the 76ers in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fultz struggled to make an early impact in Philly. During his rookie season, Fultz appeared in just 14 games.
Considering he got such a late start to his debut season, Fultz failed to garner any significant playoff minutes during the Sixers' 2017-2018 run. The following year, Fultz was ready to start showing the NBA world why he was drafted number one the previous year, but another setback kept him off the court 19 games into the season.
The Sixers-Fultz saga was a mess. With a lot going on behind the scenes, and nothing happening on the court, the 76ers accepted that they might not be able to salvage their relationship with Fultz. Therefore, the young guard was traded to the Orlando Magic, where he would sit out and rehab for the remainder of the 2018-2019 season.
Last year, Fultz finally debuted for the Magic. He appeared in 64 games, starting in 59 of them. In an average of just under 30 minutes of action, Fultz put up 12 points-per-game while draining 47-percent of his shots from the field. His progress in Orlando was good enough to earn him a three-year, $50 million extension.
While Orlando's decision to offer Fultz such a significant extension after just a single season raised some eyebrows around the league, his progress so far this year looks promising. In four games this season, Fultz has averaged 18 points-per-game as the team's starting point guard. Thanks to Fultz's help, Orlando has yet to lose a game.
On Thursday night, Fultz's former team comes to town. As the young guard continues to grow and emerge as a reliable scoring point guard on the Magic, Fultz discussed some of the factors that have allowed him to get to this point.
"One, I'm healthy," Fultz said on Thursday morning as he prepares to face the Sixers. "Two, I just think I have the opportunity to be at the one position and have the ball in my hands. I'm able to make plays and be comfortable doing that. I think my teammates help me, as well. Again, I think the biggest thing about it is just being healthy and having an opportunity to have the ball in my hands and play freely."
Fultz and the Sixers will face off once again in Orlando on Thursday night. The game will tip-off at 6:30 pm est.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_