Lonzo Ball and his father have dominated storylines in terms of the 2017 NBA Draft prospects with their family brand and questionable statements attracting press, but Markelle Fultz’s popularity has boosted the last few months because of his great highlights and fantastic potential. The Washington Huskies, with Markelle Fultz, went 9-22, and 2-16 in conference play. This sounds a lot like Ben Simmons, who still got selected 1st overall while not making the 2016 NCAA tournament, which is the same tournament that boosted the stocks of Jamal Murray and Buddy Hield. Markelle Fultz also has a very quiet demeanor, and this has left him as maybe the least talked about top prospect, who has even been covered less than some top 7 picks like De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
When the stat sheet is examined, his numbers are downright incredible, especially considering that he was an 18 year old at the time. He missed 6 games at the end of the season due to no chance of postseason play, as well as a minor injury. He averaged about 36 minutes a game, a good sign of conditioning and competitive fire. Over these 36 minutes, he averaged 23.2 points, with 5.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. He also averaged 1.2 blocks a game, notable for a point guard. He shot 41% from three point range, and shot 5 of them a game, giving a good sample size. His field goal percentage, 48%, is great for a guard.
As far as his physical tools go, he is a dream player for any team desiring a long, physical guard who can get to the point of attack. He boasts a 6’4″ frame with a staggering 6’10” wingspan. These tools allow him to move like a typical guard, but live above the rim like a small forward. He has good leaping ability, which forms a lethal trio with his height and wingspan when going at the basket against bigs and challenging shots on the other end of the floor.
He has a short list of weaknesses, most of which seem insignificant or easy to coach. His shot is really good already, with that indicated by the shooting percentages. But, he does take a few possessions off, and does not run around to create catch and shoot scoring opportunities. He also lacks great body language as he seems to put in half-effort on the defensive end, relying on his physical tools to get in the way of a shot. Once his technique is perfected, a really good defensive game with a sublime shooting stroke is likely to make Fultz an immediate star that can come in and make an impact for any team.
As far as where he will go in the draft, it is hard to muster a scenario in which he slips off of being the projected #1 pick. The Philadelphia 76ers, fresh off of trading for the #1 pick, look to add a scoring guard and a secondary ball handler, as they try to mold Ben Simmons into a Magic Johnson type of point guard. As far as a pro comparison for Fultz, the only true likeness in the NBA lies in Jrue Holiday. they both have a 6’4″ frame with a long wingsan and lots of potential,. Jrue Holiday has made a name for himself as a guy who can create his own shots, as well as setup others for scoring opportunities. This is seen as the potential of Fultz by many scouts.