In my time as an NBA fan, this was easily the most hyped trade deadline throughout that time. A superstar the level of Anthony Davis has not been on the block since Kareem over 40 years ago so this aspect alone increased the hype levels to maximum intensity.
Although nothing formulated in that regard (for now) there were other big news to be made. Marc Gasol going to Toronto is the clear favorite for the most impactful in the short term.
In terms of how the future of the NBA will be impacted in the 2020s, this Markelle Fultz trade could be a game changer.
Fultz entered Philadelphia on a tidal wave of extensive media coverage and as the number 1 pick, the spotlight was glaring his way at all times. But his time in the city of brotherly love ended in a whimper.
The focal part of his game that was on display was his shooting. Fultz wasn’t viewed as Stephen Curry by any means coming out of college but NBA fans around the world were simply shocked at the sight that this man seemed to simply forget how to shoot. Little would anyone be able to guess that this man would be getting healthy DNP’s in the 2018 playoffs.
Then for the start of 2018-2019 Fultz was entered into the starting lineup. There were positive signs but the negative attention that comes with being an underwhelming number 1 overall pick overrode any positivity that might have occurred for Mr. Fultz.
After a few games, it was announced in November that Fultz would be out for an extended period of time (again). The beginning of winter came around and finally, we seemed to get an answer for the shooting woes: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Turns out Fultz has a legitimate nerve issue that will affect his shot long term.
Let’s take a step back to the positives though because despite the obvious shot issue thing is everything else is good as projected:
- Stellar NBA athleticism for a 20-year-old. This was hyped pre-draft and there has been nothing to show this wasn’t accurate.
- Youngest player in NBA history with a triple-double.
- A solid all-around offensive game in terms of passing and rebounding
- Although his shot still clearly needs a ton of work, in the short sample size given he DID improve from his rookie season. This is important. He progressed and didn’t regress.
The shocking news came as the trade deadline midnight (or 3:00) bell was about to ring that this young stud muffin would be taking his talents to Orlando. There could not be a better fit.
I have been emphatic that the Orlando Magic have the potential to make some serious noise in the 2020’s decade. Aaron Gordon, Mohamed Bamba, and Jonathan “2019 AC Green” Isaac have length raining down all over the Amway Center.
The key piece missing was a point guard though. My theory was that the Magic should tank in 2018-2019 to get a backcourt piece (Ja Morant, Romeo Langford, Darius Garland) to complete the puzzle and be set up for next decade.
That plan went into a halt when Nikola Vucevic suddenly became the awoken All-Star and now the Magic are trying to win, which simply I thought they should have waited one more year to do that.
With this gamble, I might have been wrong and the Magic front office just might know what they're doing. Giving up only Jonathon Simmons, OKC’s 2020 1st round pick, and Cleveland’s 2019 2nd round pick means this is absolutely a low-risk move with the potential for an absurdly high reward.
Fultz will be in a situation where he can work on his confidence as well. In one reaction I saw after the trade in regards to this, an enlightened NBA fan stated: “Nobody cares about Orlando”.
As a Grizzlies fan, I know this feeling all too well, but that’s good for Fultz. He can work on his issues now without the media spotlight being all over him.
Orlando solved the point guard puzzle piece in a way nobody expected. If Fultz gets even somewhat close to his potential, to combine with the lengthiest future frontcourt in the NBA, people will start caring about Orlando real soon.