PHILADELPHIA-The Philadelphia 76ers made a big move in the 2017 NBA draft when they sent the No. 3 pick to the Boston Celtics to move up to the No. 1 pick and select Markelle Fultz out of Washington. The idea was that he would help the Sixers move closer to a championship.
Unfortunately, Fultz dealt with a bizarre shoulder injury and he only played in a grand total of 33 games across two seasons in Philadelphia before being sent to the Orlando Magic at the 2019 deadline.
After dealing with more injuries in Orlando, Fultz played his first game back in Philadelphia on Monday, a 119-109 win for the Magic, and he had 12 points and 10 assists in the win.
"That's actually crazy that that was his first game back here, but I've always been a big fan of him," said Joel Embiid of Fultz. "I talk to him and when we did trade him, I was disappointed because I felt like we had given up on him too early. Even back then, even without a jump shot. I still thought he was an amazing talent just because it's so quick."
On the season, Fultz is now averaging 12.1 points and 5.7 assists. That isn't exactly superstar No. 1 overall pick numbers, but considering how far he's come, this is a big step for him.
"I think he went through a lot of stuff," added Furkan Korkmaz. "Mentally, physically. For a player, it's not easy to come back strong from that so I think he did it. It's good to see him playing so well. Especially, tonight (Monday). I think he really, really played well offensively and defensively. He set the tone for them. He gave them a lot of energy and then they got the win."
The Magic have a lot of young talent, 2022 No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero looks like he will be a good player for a while, but Fultz continues to be the lead man for them at the point guard spot.
"He's a good playmaker," added Embiid. "He gets guys easy shots. There's a reason why they're a good team. Obviously, they drafted a great rookie who's gonna be a really good player in this league, but I think everything runs through Markelle. They're better than what their record says and they wouldn't be there without the impact that he has."
It's obvious that Fultz was well-liked by his former Sixers teammates. A lot has changed in Philadelphia since he was with the team, but the guys still here have respect for him.
"I know him personally," Korkmaz added. "He's a really good guy, a good kid. I think he deserves to be in this situation. He even deserves better."
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Story originally appeared on Sixers Wire