Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers

Markelle Fultz gets a fresh start with a Magic team that has nothing to lose

Markelle Fultz, whose jumper has made him an object of scorn in Philadelphia, should form a mutually beneficial partnership with Orlando, who got him at little to no risk.

The weirdest domino of the 2019 trade deadline fell when Philadelphia traded Markelle Fultz to Orlando.

Fultz’s value at this point largely stems from his prior pedigree that lead to him to be the first overall pick. He’s still clearly a good basketball player, but the disappearance of his jumpshot, whether to mental nerves or an actual literal physical nerve issue, has clearly tanked his value. He’s still an extremely smart player, an effective passer and rebounder with good size and scoring instincts, but with the evaporation of his jump shot and repeated injury issues, he’s been under a spotlight from both defenses, who have sagged off him and made it hard for him to make plays, and the media, who has highlighted every little thing with his jumper. Without a jumper, he likely never is a strong starter in this league, and Orlando already has a borderline starter in D.J. Augustin.

In a weird way, the most important person for this trade is actually someone whose name isn’t a household one at all. Bruce Kreutzer, former Charlotte assistant, is the coach to whom Kemba Walker attributes the tweak to his shot that turned him into an all-NBA shooter. When Steve Clifford was fired in Charlotte, he brought Kreutzer with him to Orlando. Kreutzer’s ability to diagnose the problem with the shot and bring it back to the high-level jumper that gave Fultz three-level scoring ability on which he was the clear first overall pick could change this trade from a low-risk acquisition into a huge gain.

On Philly’s end, Jonathan Simmons has struggled significantly shooting the ball at times this season. He’s still sitting on a true shooting of 44.5 for this season, among the worst in the league. He may be able to play sporadic minutes at the 2 and 3, and the hopes are that his shooting will recover to normal levels so that his defense remains valuable.

The majority of the value for Philly is in the picks, which are Oklahoma City’s 2020 first-round pick and a second round pick. The Oklahoma pick is protected from 1-20, meaning it will either be a late first or two second-rounders, but assuming it conveys in the twenties, that’s a range the 76ers have already shown recent comfort drafting in, getting Landry Shamet out of the 2018 No. 26 overall pick. While Fultz cost them more than that, they seemingly felt it was time to move on and elected to do so, getting what they hope will be multiple future contributors.

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For Orlando though, a team that has been without a top point guard for many years now, who hired a coach that runs a system dependent on having a top point guard, now has a guy that could actually become that point guard. Fultz will probably take time, but the Magic organization aren’t going anywhere fast so they should have that. They gave up assets so small that the biggest one, the Oklahoma City 2020 first, was actually acquired from the team they gave it back to, and was termed a “fake first” at times due to the protections levied on it.

Overall, the Magic saw an advantage and took it. It probably won’t pan out, because Fultz’s shot or his thorax or his brain may be totally broken, but they paid so low an asset price here that the chance that he does makes this a smart move, and it’s a smart move that patches they exact hole they need to.

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