Al-Farouq Aminu’s injury
The injury bug hasn’t been kind to the Orlando Magic this season.
After having their top six rotation guys miss a total of 16 games last season, the Magic have seen a rash of injuries come over the team. Already down the services of Nikola Vucevic and Michael Carter-Williams, the Magic will now be without Al-Farouq Aminu for an undisclosed amount of time.
Aminu, who signed with the Magic as a free agent, suffered a torn meniscus on Friday night against the Toronto Raptors. The veteran forward told reporters before the game on Sunday night that his knee felt unstable following the game, but he thought it could just be general soreness. After he continued to feel the issue after trying to warm up on Saturday morning, he went and got an MRI which gave him the news.
No decision as been made on if Aminu will undergo surgery, or if he will just try and rehab the injury. A decision will be made following a second opinion early this week.
The loss of Aminu is a big one for the Magic.
While he has struggled with his shot early this season, the versatility he adds to the team, and what he can do matchup wise are huge. Without him, the team will turn to Wes Iwundu for minutes, and lean more on Aaron Gordon and Johnathan Isaac at the four spot.
“He just gives us such good size at the position, he’s a good defender,” said Steve Clifford pregame when asked about how it would effect his team. “He’s a proven veteran player. We’ll miss him for sure.”
After the great health they had last season, there was going to be some regression there for the Magic, but the way the injury bug as hit them early in the season is definitely challenging. It has to give them a next man up mindset, and guys like Khem Birch, who’s filling in for the injured Vucevic, and now Iwundu will have a chance to make an impact they weren’t otherwise making.
“We responded well, it’s just another tough loss, man,” said Evan Fournier when asked about Aminu’s absence post game. “It feels like ‘when it rains it pours’. It’s a tough blow. We can’t dwell on it. Next man up. We’re definitely going to miss him. When one guy plus one guy plus one guy starts to add up, you can tell. You can tell that we miss guys.”
Despite the injury, Aminu can still have an impact on the team as a veteran leader and voice int he locker room. Markelle Fultz said that Aminu has been a big mentor for him, and having been around the league nine years, Aminu has been through it all.
It’s another tough blow for the Magic, but one that can once again overcome and continue to fight and build on what they have going.
Markelle Fultz’s growing confidence
As the games continue to tick off for Markelle Fultz, the product becomes better and better.
After playing in just 33 games his first two years due to injuries, Fultz is about to play in his 20th this season when the Magic tip it up in Washington on Tuesday night. He’s come a long way from a guy who just earlier this year had no clear idea when, or if, he would return to the basketball court.
Sunday night, Fultz made a huge impression on the game, helping the Magic rally in the fourth quarter behind a pair of big buckets, and eight points in the final quarter.
The performance was one of many that has been impressive from Fultz this season. He’s shown a willingness to drive and get to the basket, and has finished acrobatically, and through contact time and time again. He’s shown an increased willingness to take his jumper, and buried a huge one late Sunday, showing another facet of his game that’s rounding back into the form that made him the number one pick int he draft.
Fultz has had plenty of doubters since he made it into the league, and isn’t letting them get to him.
“Man, I aint really got too much to say for all the people that doubted me and stuff like said. I mean, I let my game do the talking, and I think it’s just steady showing. I just worry about myself and this team. I always knew I could do this stuff, you know, it was just a matter of getting healthy and doing what I had to do. But, it feels great you know, to see all the people that was talking being quiet now, so it’s just like, you know, keep working and keep doing what you’re doing.”
The continued improvement and the growing confidence is showing, and a welcoming, and much needed sign for the Magic. If they’re going to continue to grow as a team, they’re going to need Fultz to continue to grow and be more comfortable with his teammates.
He’s shown of great instincts on both ends of the floor, and with continued time and work, will start to get closer and closer to the player that could be a star in this league.