As Markelle Fultz returns home, the Wizards must find an answer for him

Mike DePrisco

As the Wizards return home from a brutal west coast road trip, they are set to host former DeMatha High School star Markelle Fultz and the 8-11 Magic

The Magic are probably one of the better matchups for the Wizards this year. They're one of the best defenses in the league (9th in NBA) but struggle immensely on offense (29th). They're basically Washington's evil twin depending on how you look at it. 

The last time these two teams played, Orlando's offense proved to be less inept than the Wizards' defense and won 125-121. We could be in line for another one of those games on Tuesday, but maybe with a brand new small lineup the Wizards could actually make some stops. 

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Given how past DeMatha players have fared against their home-town team this season, bottling up Fultz might be the key to a victory. He already put up 19 points in Orlando's win three weeks ago, Nuggets forward Jerami Grant gave the Wizards a 20-piece in Denver and then Quinn Cook had 17 points of his own this past Friday. 

As nice as it will be for Fultz to return home and play in a primary role for his new team, the Wizards need to find an answer for these DeMatha kids continuously cooking them. 

Markelle Fultz

After dealing with a shoulder injury and a nightmare situation in Philadelphia during his first two seasons, Fultz finally has a consistent role on an NBA team this year with Steve Clifford's squad. He's averaging 11.7 points and 3.8 assists on near 50 percent shooting from the field, and given he's still just 21 years old, he's getting better every game. 

The three-point stroke isn't quite there yet, but that was never the best part about Fultz's game. It's his patience driving to the basket and his ability to change speeds at an instant to get above the rim. 

Fultz is one of the smoothest athletes you'll see on a basketball court, and if he's able to consistently break down a defense with his drives he presents a major problem. 

The Wizards are one of the worst team's in the NBA at defending the paint and are without every center they have, so Fultz could be in line for a big game.

The silver lining here is that the Magic are not a good shooting team. They rank 29th in the NBA in both field goal percentage and three-point percentage. So if Fultz gets past his man and kicks to an open shooter, the Wizards may be able to survive. 

Isaac Bonga may be the best option to put on Fultz. He's long and mobile and would be the Wizards' best bet to contain his dribble penetration. Another option is to switch everything with their small lineup.

Jonathan Isaac

When determining who to credit Orlando's top-10 defensive rating to, the conversation begins and ends with Jonathan Isaac. 

The third-year wing can guard practically every position on the floor, uses his length and foot-speed to torture scores and has the handle to grab rebounds or steals and immediately take them the other way. 

I'd predict Isaac to get deployed on either Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans Tuesday night. Beal and Bertans are different scorers obviously, but Isaac has the tools to shut either of them down. 

Every team who's stifled the Wizards' elite offense so far this season has done it by blitzing Beal and forcing the ball out of his hands. The Magic would be keen to try and do that and why not deploy your best defender on him. 

The Wizards and Magic tip-off at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington as Washington looks to rebound from a 1-3 road trip. 


As Markelle Fultz returns home, the Wizards must find an answer for him originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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