The Orlando Magic opened the 2019 preseason in a big way, earning a 36-point road win over the San Antonio Spurs in a game in which they led by as many as 41 points.
While preseason wins are largely inconsequential, there are often big takeaways for the season ahead. For Orlando, it was the promise shown by former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, who took the floor in a Magic uniform for the first time since they motioned to acquire him at the 2019 trade deadline.
In a reserve role, Fultz saw 17 minutes of action, finishing with six points (on 3-8 shooting) to go along with four assists, two rebounds and two steals. His numbers were far from gaudy, but the 21-year-old had a few big moments during his time on the floor.
He first got on the board with a turnaround jumper over Spurs guard DeJounte Murray:
You love to see it.#MagicAboveAll pic.twitter.com/ZMqaaYWHn1- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 6, 2019
Later, his defence would translate into offence as he put his athleticism on full display with a big dunk in transition:
MY G👀NESS, @MarkelleF! pic.twitter.com/0K9HqjQCA5- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 6, 2019
Fultz was a team-best plus-30 in the box score during his time on the floor and had an extremely positive outlook about getting back on the floor: "It was huge, it was really just a blessing. I give all the praise to the man up top, God. That's all I can say, really."
"I feel like all of my teammates had my back." - @MarkelleF pic.twitter.com/bjc8LAu50J- Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 6, 2019
He continued, adding that "it was my first time back out there in a long time and I'm just happy that I was able to get out there and compete."
After his big dunk, the Magic's bench erupted and Fultz credited them for their support during his time in Orlando: "They've done a great job of supporting me and I think that's the biggest thing. I feel like all my teammates have my back."
Fultz, who was taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017, has had a tumultuous start to his career. He has appeared in just 33 games over two seasons due to numerous ailments, namely thoracic outlet syndrome, which has had an adverse impact on his jump shooting ability.
Still, he has shown the potential to live up to the billing of a top pick and is just 21-years-old. He is the youngest player in NBA history to have recorded a triple-double and has the capability to be a serious impact player at this level.
Orlando, who finished seventh in the Eastern Conference last season with a 43-39 record, has a unique blend of young and established talent. Should Fultz turn the corner in his development this season, he could allow this team to surprise many, making him one of the biggest X-Factors in the league.
The Magic open the 2019-20 regular season on Oct. 24 when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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