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Markelle Fultz – 6’4” Point Guard / Shooting Guard, University of Washington, 18 Years Old
Markelle Fultz, a combination guard out of the University of Washington, is the No. 1 ranked college basketball player in the country. Many expect Fultz to be the top lottery pick in the NBA draft come June 22. Fultz, who turns 19 later this month, averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game with the Huskies this season while shooting 47.6% from the floor and 41.3% from behind the arc.
The high-flying freshman was named first team All-Pac-12 and third team All-American despite missing six of the final eight games of the season with a knee injury, despite the Huskies dismal season (finishing 9-22 overall and 2-16 in the Pac-12), and despite not appearing in the NCAA Playoffs.
Fultz announced his intent to enter the NBA Draft on March 10, 2017.
Fultz is a skilled scorer with range while being exceptionally good shooting off the dribble. With ankle-breaking hesitation moves as well as a smooth step-back, Fultz exhibits high pick-and-roll proficiency. He’s athletic and flexible with superb body control, making it hard for opponents to effectively defend him in one-on-one situations. Strong footwork and creativity make him dangerous coming from nearly any direction.
Fultz also demonstrates unselfishness on the court and is exceptional at creating plays for his teammates. He exhibits excellent court vision, screens well off-the-ball, and has strong passing abilities. In his one year with the Huskies, Fultz had an impressive 35.1 assist percentage.
Fultz’s weaknesses, to the extent they exist, boil down to consistency and mental focus. Despite his solid statistics during the 2016-17 season, Fultz was often loose with the ball and streaky. He also demonstrated poor judgment and shot selection at times.
Defensively, Fultz has a tendency to appear lazy; failing to run the court in transition, close out shooters or contest shots. He struggles to handle screens, often loses track of players he is guarding and is frequently backdoored.
Whether these weaknesses will follow Fultz to the next level is unknown. They may just be the result of his youth or the fact that he was playing for a subpar college program.
The creative and offensively lethal Fultz had a brilliant individual year with the Huskies. There is no reason to believe his abilities won’t translate to the NBA. Fultz has all the makings of an elite point guard. He stands 6’4 with a 6’10 wingspan, has big hands, and a strong frame. He’s a prolific scorer, a top-notch facilitator, and has the potential to be an excellent defender despite his not putting in the effort on the defensive end of the floor this past season. With the point guard having evolved into the premier position in the NBA, there is no doubt that the multidimensional Fultz will be a strong asset to whichever team acquires him.
NBA Player Comparison
Fultz’s scoring and playmaking abilities have drawn him many highly acclaimed NBA comparisons, including MVP candidate Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, D’Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Although Fultz shares common attributes with all three of those players, I find him to be most comparable to James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Fultz and Harden are both equally dangerous on and off-the-ball and characterized by herky-jerky movements that make them difficult to contain. They are also versatile, explosive, and advanced shot-makers from nearly anywhere on the floor.
Expect Markelle Fultz to be either the first or second pick on draft night, and be sure to stay updated with our complete coverage of the 2017 NBA Draft!
All statistics cited were obtained via: http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/