Daily Sports Smile: Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz expected to return 13 months after knee injury

Jaylon Thompson
USA TODAY Sports+

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz is returning to the hardwood. The former No. 1 overall pick has been cleared to return after a knee injury sidelined him for over a year.

Fultz is expected to be available for Monday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. It will be his first on-court action since Jan. 6, 2021. At 23 years old, Fultz is excited to continue his career after dealing with multiple injuries.

"I love the game so much and I never took it for granted, but I appreciate it way differently now," Fultz said on a recent Orlando Magic Pod Squad episode. "I just want to be able to go out there and give it my all and just show people how much I appreciate the game and how much I am thankful for how much the game has done for me and my family and people it’s helped me touch."

Prior to his ACL injury last season, Fultz was experiencing a breakout campaign. He averaged 14.3 points and 6.1 assists in seven games before the injury.

The Magic brought him along slowly during his rehab process. According to the Magic official website, the team worked to build his core strength and elevate his conditioning level.

Dec 23, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz (20) warms up before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

In the meantime, the overall roster added talented youth in 2021 NBA Draft selections Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner. Both players join Fultz, Wendell Carter Jr. and Cole Anthony as a dynamic core.

"I’m very excited just to get out there with my teammates and go out there and compete," Fultz said.

Fultz will look to add more playmaking in the backcourt. In his career, he has made 44.7 % of his shots from the field.

The Magic sit at 14-47 overall under first-year head coach Jamahl Mosley. With Fultz back in the fold, the young team will have a chance to develop for the remainder of the season.