The Philadelphia 76ers in the midst of a playoff race got a major win over the Denver Nuggets 123-104. This game had major implications for both Eastern and Western Conference playoff seeding, yet the actual game was not the biggest story of the night. The biggest story was Markelle Fultz, Fultz returned to thunderous applause after missing 68 games of his rookie season.

Proving the doubters wrong

Fultz has dealt with a tumultuous rookie season. After being taken number one by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2018 Draft, he almost immediately was sidelined with an imbalance in his shoulder muscles.

In the time he was out all sorts of rumors about him flew around. People said that his shot was broken and the 76ers were simply sitting him to save face, that he would be a bust, and that his shot was broken beyond repair. It was starting to become questionable whether Fultz would play again this year, but Fultz finally got his chance to step on the court. In his first game back for the 76ers, Fultz had 10 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and a plus/minus of +16 in 14 minutes. He came off the bench and looked spectacular proving his doubters wrong.

Although he got most of his points at the rim, he was able to show that he still had some of his old form on his jump shots. He was able to hit a step back jumper in the 4th and shot a decent percentage when considering that he was a rookie and it was his first game returning from injury.

On the defensive side of the ball, Fultz also showed off his potential. In the third quarter, he and Ersan Ilyasova sent Jamal Murry's dunk attempt right back at him, and Fultz was able to stay in front of his man for most of the game.

Shaking off the rust

However, it wasn't all roses in the first game back for Fultz. He had to shake off some rust and made rookie mistakes in his first game back.

On his very first possession, he turned the ball over. He also showed how long it had been since he had shot the ball in a game situation when he air-balled his very first jump shot and will have to learn how to avoid bigs in the paint as he was blocked by Mason Plumlee twice during the game. However, these are problems that can either be attributed to rust, or Fultz simply going through the growing pains that all young players must go through.

Overall while Fultz showed some of the rust that you would expect in the first half and the second half, he appeared to have a bit more of a swagger to him. He hit acrobatic layups and contested jump shots and showed his doubters that he does, in fact, have the potential to be the best player in a class that includes players like Donavan Mitchell.