Magic HC: Fultz will be 'significantly better player' this season
David Sherman / National Basketball Association / Getty

Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford thinks fans should expect improvement from Markelle Fultz, particularly when it comes to his 3-point shooting.

"You're going to see it when you see him play," Clifford told reporters Wednesday. "For instance, his spot-up threes, his release point is getting to be back where it used to be."

In 25 games as a freshman with Washington in 2017, Fultz shot 52-of-126 (41.3%) from the college 3-point line.

His ability to space the floor - plus the immense physical gifts that would theoretically allow him to be an elite defender - drove the Philadelphia 76ers to trade up with the Boston Celtics to select Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in 2017.

Fultz, of course, had a rough time in Philadelphia, logging just 33 regular-season appearances during his first two campaigns while battling a combination of injuries and mental roadblocks. The 76ers essentially dumped him to the Magic in early 2019.

He shot just 31.5% on all spot-up attempts in 2019-20, and his disastrous 39.4% effective field-goal rate on set shots placed him behind fellow shooting-challenged Magic teammates Aaron Gordon (46.4%) and Mo Bamba (43.6%), according to NBA Advanced Stats.

The 22-year-old still averaged 12.1 points, 5.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in just 27.7 minutes per game with the Magic last season, and Clifford said Fultz is set to improve on those career-best marks.

"You guys will see," the veteran head coach said. "He's definitely physically better, mentally in a great place.

"He's a significantly better player than he was a year ago."

The Magic are to set to play their first preseason game on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET.

Magic HC: Fultz will be 'significantly better player' this season
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