This has definitely been a tumultuous inaugural season for the youngster. Went from the toast of the rookie class to “monumental bust” in a matter of months. But that tune has definitely changed. Fultz finally got back on the court and started to show some of the promise that led to him being the #1 overall pick in last year’s draft. Having gone through everything he’s experienced in his first year in the NBA, Markelle Fultz has grown up fairly quickly. I’m sure he feels like his NBA life has aged in dog years. Let’s look at some of the things that has given Fultz wisdom beyond his years.
Now Fultz had already been on a wild ride before he played one second in the league. I mean 4 short years ago he was playing JV at DeMatha. To go from that to the top draft pick in that short period of time had to have changed his life dramatically. He seemed to deal with the added attention with poise and humility. The heightened expectations has to wear on a player. Even if they do not show any outward signs of nervousness, I can assure you they’re there. That alone is enough to get your career off to a rocky start. You don’t want to force the issue but you don’t want to under-deliver. You want to live up to the hype but you don’t want to be selfish and separate yourself from the team. It’s a lot for a 19 year old kid to digest.
This season also gave Markelle a heavier dose of something most players face in their entire career, adversity. Can you imagine what he’s had to endure mentally throughout the course of his rookie campaign? He had to combat the naysayers. He had to watch other rookies flourish. He had to deal with all of this while simultaneously not being able to play. That’s got to be torturous. Basketball is usually a safe haven, stress reliever or escape for these guys. What do you do when you can’t hoop? For him to keep his head throughout this ordeal and be ready when his number was called again speaks to his maturity as a player.
That’s a lot to deal with for a first year player. But guess what, this will be beneficial for him in the long run. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. I’m not sure but I think I made that quote up (not really). Anyway, I digress. These setbacks early on (really early on) in his career will undoubtedly help him. I’m not saying there is no possibility he can face an even greater obstacle at some point but having it happen at this point and escaping with some light at the end of the tunnel is a benefit. The rookie learning curve is already huge. He had to deal with that and all the extra-cirricular stuff as well. He could have folded but he persevered. Few rookies get to be battle tested like this. I can only see him getting better from this experience.
The young fella’s future is bright. The knee jerk reactions to his perceived struggles this year were both hilarious and annoying. They tried to bury that man. Well the dead has arisen.