Magics Markelle Fultz ended the season healthy, comfortable with new teammates – the Boston Herald

Into the 2021-22 season, the Orlando Magic had two priorities when it came to Markelle Fultz, both of whom would take time and patience.

The first helped him get well enough to play again after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament over his left knee in January 2021. Fultz’s 14-month journey back to the floor ended when he returned in a home win over the Indiana Pacers and February 28.

“He’s done a phenomenal job of getting his body in that position,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said at the end of the season. “Our performance staff has done a fantastic job with him. Our coaching staff has done a fantastic job of relying on the time frame for when he came back.”

The second priority was to put him in a position where he could be comfortable on the floor.

With a new coaching staff led by Mosley and several new teammates he had not played with before the season, Fultz essentially returned to a new team.

Among the 15 players Fultz played with in 2021-22, only four (Terrence Ross, Mo Bamba, Chuma Okeke and Cole Anthony) shared the floor with him before the season. And in the cases of Okeke (46 minutes) and Anthony (15), who were rookies in 2020-21, playing time with Fultz had been minimal.

Despite the changes, Fultz’s influence was immediately felt when he returned.

Fultz averaged 10.8 points (47.4% shooting), 5.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 20 minutes (18 games).

He recorded 10 potential assists – passes to teammates who shoot within 1 dribble after receiving the ball – per. match, which was most among players who on average had less than 27 minutes.

Fultz consistently created open looks for teammates in a variety of ways: off drives and kickouts to the perimeter, hit-ahead passes or connecting with cutters.

He also scored effectively despite attempts at 0.9 3-pointers per. match.

Fultz made 50.3% of his 2-pointers, 72% of his shots on the edge and 40% of his long mid-range shots – all of which were above average for a guard, according to Cleaning The Glass, and resembled his numbers in the 2019-20 season .

“Markelle just breathes life into the team,” said the magical president of basketball operations, Jeff Weltman, during a recent appearance on FM 96.9 The Game’s Open Mike with Orlando Sentinels Mike Bianchi. “What we saw was a guy who is exquisitely talented at creating offense for others, who has a high IQ, who has a crazy physical package of size and skills and visions.

“He actually performed at a level that I probably did not expect right out of the gate. There was a lot of rust there. He has a lot of growth and he knows it. But he’s on his way to [being] a high level player for our team. “Very quickly we played better with him on the pitch, which is not a surprise.”

Fultz can use this offseason to focus solely on further improving his skill set instead of also having to worry about rehab.

As well as he has been scored inside the arc, his limited volume of 3s and percent (4 of 14 on non-heaves) areas could be improved.

Fultz’s 75.6% free throw percentage, which is a significant improvement over his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, suggests that there is more room for the overall No. 1 in 2017 to grow as a shooter.

“I’m honestly the most excited I’ve ever been, just to have a summer where I’m not really focused on rehab or recovery, and I can really attack my summer directly,” Fultz said. “I know I have a few goals I want to achieve, but it’s the summer where I can really focus on my summer and enjoy the process.”

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price on khprice@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.

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