Leading up to the NBA Draft we will be analyzing scouting reports for various players who have entered their name in this year’s NBA Draft. The focus of these articles will be on prospects who we find most intriguing and feel readers need to become more familiar with. Please let us know if you want any players specifically @edupridepress. All stats and videos are via KenPom, ESPN, DraftExpress, and YouTube.
Markelle Fultz – PG/SG – Freshman – Washington
Weight: 195 lbs
Age: 19 years, 1 month
Projected: 1 (DraftExpress) 1 (CPP Big Board) 1 (CPP Mock Draft)
Background: His team won 9 games in college. 9 games all season! He didn’t go to Kentucky. He didn’t go to Duke. His name is Markelle Fultz and he went to the University of Washington. Fultz played on a Washington Huskies team that saw its two best players, Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss, enter the draft last year and leave them with nothing, except the #9 player in the 2017 ESPN 100. Fultz is in the same boat as Ben Simmons, last year’s #1 overall pick in the draft. Both player’s teams did not make the NCAA Tournament and both had no supporting cast with them. What people may not know about Markelle Fultz is that he was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore. Ever since that moment, Fultz has worked harder and has become the best NBA prospect in the country. This past season at Washington, Fultz averaged 23.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.2 BPG, and shot 41.3% from the 3-pt line in about 36 minutes a game. Fultz is the complete combo guard that can virtually do anything on the floor. Markelle Fultz will be going to Philadelphia will the first pick in the draft and making people “believe in the process” instead of trusting it.
Strengths: What do NBA teams look for in their guards today? Scoring! Markelle Fultz is a gifted shot creator, has incredible ball and body control, and is extremely swift. His ability to change hands with the ball, speed, and direction is amazing. He maneuvers around the court using an arsenal of his skills and is an extremely good shooter off the dribble, shooting 42% this season on jumpers. Fultz continues to awe NBA personnel with his pick-and-roll ability. He leaves defenders clueless because they never know whether or not he will drive, kick, or pull-up. Fultz also sees the floor so well and sees things that others do not. His basketball IQ and court vision is not like any other player in the draft class. His 36% assist percentage was second best in the country behind Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans, and his passing ability will translate well to the next level. What makes Markelle Fultz even more dangerous is that he can play off the ball as well. According to Synergy Sports, Fultz made 38% of his catch and shoot jumpers on the season, proving that he does not need to run the ball up the floor to be a threat. He is such a flexible guard and can play at any spot on the court. Standing 6’5” with a 6’10” wingspan, Fultz has elite tools to become a lead guard. He uses his frame very well on the defensive end to swipe the ball away and disrupt passes in the passing lane. His long reach and wingspan also makes his release higher than the average guard can defend, making his shot smoother and more accurate. Fultz also loves to play in traffic and play above the rim. He is not one to steer away from contact, but instead absorb it as he punishes the rim. Markelle Fultz is so smooth offensively and is so dangerous, that he will put lots of NBA defenders on notice for this upcoming season.
Weaknesses: Like many young talent coming out of college, Markelle Fultz has his “flashy” moments and tries to do too much with the ball. He sometimes tries to do “the impossible” and make the incredible shot to get the crowd going. A true weakness for Fultz this past season was his free-throw percentage. He shot 64.9% from the line, suggesting that he may be prone to streaky free-throw percentages for his career moving forward. The team that drafts Fultz will have to spend lots of time in the gym over the summer putting up hundreds of free throws to try and tweak his mechanics. Against better competition this past season, Fultz’s numbers declined, along with his assist-turnover ratio, but this may be the result of not having a “reliable” player to pass it to. If Fultz is to live up to all the hype he is receiving, he will have to improve on the defensive end of the floor. His size, strength, length, instincts, and agility are all tools to be an effective defender, but he doesn’t apply them to be an elite defender. His closeout and stance is very athletic and a very promising start to becoming a great defender. Fultz still has some work to do this summer to improve his game and prove all his doubters wrong that he deserves to be considered the best player coming out of the draft this year.
Comparison: Gilbert Arenas
Ceiling: Dwayne Wade or James Harden
Gilbert Arenas, when he was on the court, not off of it, was an extremely smart player and was one of the best scorers in his prime. He averaged just under 30 PPG at one point in his career and was a prolific shooter from anywhere on the floor. Like Arenas, Fultz will rely more on his pure athleticism to get where he wants. Both Arenas and Fultz are great physical rebounders for guards and can play off the ball as well as on it. The unselfishness of both players is something that makes them dangerous on the drive. Arenas was great in the pick-and-roll, much like Fultz is. Fultz has such a huge upside with his physical traits and his offensive skillset, that he could easily turn into a player like Harden is now and Wade was in his prime. Both of these superstars can bring the ball up the floor and stroke it from virtually anywhere. Fultz has a long career ahead of him and it starts with being the first pick in the draft.
Be sure to check out our other Top 30 Breakdowns and NBA Draft Charts: