Markelle Fultz – University of Washington (Fr.)
Age on Draft Day: 19 years, 1 month
Height: 6’ 4.75”
Wingspan: 6’ 9”
Standing Reach: 8’ 6”
Games Available Online:
Lakers Film Room Offensive Scouting Report (Highly recommended, defense should be coming soon too):Markelle Fultz DX Page
Edit 3/21: Draft Express put up an updated scouting report with new strength and weakness videos today, really good stuff.
In my mind, Markelle Fultz is the clear-cut best prospect in the draft. He’s the second youngest PG in the draft behind Frank Ntilikina, and he offers elite size and length for his position, above-average athleticism, the ability to create and score from all 3 levels, great ball handling skills, and excellent playmaking ability. Fultz is very advanced running the pick-and-roll, the most prominent part of NBA offense right now, showing the ability to hit the 3 when the defender goes under the screen, get into the paint when his man chases over the top, and split the defense and get to the rim when the screener’s man hedges hard. His ability to create offense for himself efficiently is second-to-none in this draft, as he shot 46% on over 200 2-point jump shots with 13% assisted, compared to Dennis Smith Jr at 30% on 100 shots with 3% assisted and Lonzo Ball at 44% on 25 mid-range shots with 9% assisted. Part of that ability comes from his jump shot having a very high release that allows him to get it off over defenders without needing much space.
Like any prospect, Fultz is not without flaws. His intensity in games comes into question at times, especially on the defensive end, and he can be passive when it comes to taking over the game when his team really needs a bucket. Like Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson, Fultz’s free throw shooting is also a concern, sitting at only 65% on the season without showing much improvement month-to-month despite showing great scoring ability from all over the court. Lastly, although I’m not sure of the severity, Fultz had knee issues throughout conference play and missed multiple games at the end of the season, including his second match-up with Lonzo Ball. They could have just been preventative rest games because he’s basically guaranteed to be one of the top picks in the class and Washington’s season was as good as over, but it could be something to keep an eye on once the draft process gets underway.
Fultz is already a comfortable scorer from all 3 levels and has one of the most polished offensive packages in the draft despite also being one of the youngest. One of the best things about Fultz’s scoring potential is his shooting form, as he gets good lift, has smooth mechanics, and has a high, difficult to block release. He has excellent FG% on all 3 levels with solid volume: 62% at the rim on 112 attempts, 46% on 2-point jump shots on 200 shots, and 41% from 3 on 126 shots from 3. He isn’t overly quick, but he is very crafty with how he gets players off balance and on their heels using jab steps, crossovers, and change of pace to get into the paint and score or hit the open man. Along with the ability to get into the paint, he has the size and length to simply shoot over most PGs in college basketball and the NBA to go with a great step back that he uses frequently when driving middle.
His ability to score and out of the pick-and-roll is one of his best traits and will be extremely important in his transition to the NBA. Because Fultz is such a skilled and creative ball handler, he can counter just about anything the defense can throw at him to defend the screen and turn it into an advantage. He has a lot of “shake” to his crossovers that makes it tough for the defenders to correctly predict the direction he is going while staying on balance and off his hip. His size and high release allows him to get a clean shot off over the pick when his man tries to stop the drive by going underneath, his ball handling and athleticism get him into the paint and where he scores with a variety of floaters and pull-ups, and his ability to draw defenders and pass on the move creates passing lanes and open shots for his teammates to take advantage of Fultz’s gravity on the court. I would argue that he is one of the best guards in college basketball at playing the pick-and-roll because he is so smooth, crafty, and patient, and he knows how to counter the defense while having the skill to make it happen.
I’ll preface this by saying that if Fultz had scorers like TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford, Aaron Holiday, and Isaac Hamilton as his spot-up options instead of David Crisp, Matisse Thybulle, and that’s about it, I think he’d be leading college basketball in assists like Lonzo is. Fultz is a very unselfish player, at times too unselfish, and is willing to play within the offense before creating shots on his own to the point where Washington likely would have been better if they just let Fultz run a high pick-and-roll with shooters spotted up around the perimeter every time down the court. He’s a very good passer on the move, capable of making quick flip passes to big men on the drive, hitting shooters on the perimeter when he draws their man into help, and making the right pass in transition. Fultz typically keeps it simple on offense and doesn’t make too many flashy/ill-advised passes on offense, which is reflected on his TOV% being the lowest amongst himself, Ball, and Smith Jr (13.4%, 18.4%, and 17.3% respectively) despite having the highest AST% and USG% (35.5% and 31.4%, 31.6 and 18.2%, and 34.2% and 27.2% respectively) of the point guard crop.
Fultz has all the tools to be a very good defensive player in the NBA. He has the size, length, and frame, the athleticism, the basketball IQ, and the feel for the spacing of the game, but he has a habit of getting caught ball watching or just being disengaged on defense in general. There are plenty of reasons why he’d put less effort into defense: his teammates around him are all undisciplined, bad defenders, their season may as well have been over for him in January with how bad Washington and Romar are, he carries a huge load on offense as the primary ball handler, distributor, and scorer, and he knows that when he wants to lock in, he can. I don’t really like those excuses because I like to see players leave it all on the court and be locked in on both ends, and unless the Celtics/Nets win the lottery he’s going to be on another bad team where he’ll eventually/immediately be expected to carry a similar load to what he’s doing now with the expectation of defending the best position in the NBA. He uses his tools and timing to make great defensive plays in transition, but he needs to learn to be engaged on defense the entire game and not just when his man has the ball or when they absolutely need him to make a play.
To show in a couple of charts kennydorglas provided:
I see Markelle Fultz as the ideal scoring point guard for the current trend of pick-and-roll and pace and space in basketball. His game isn’t flawless, but the few flaws he has are fixable. He already has the scoring ability and playmaking skills, he has the tools to be a good defender and shows flashes of it, and he is a very intelligent and in-control player with the potential to be a #1 option on offense and the primary distributor in the NBA. I expect his free throw shooting to improve to an acceptable level when basketball officially becomes his career, as his form is too good and consistent for him to not develop into at least an average free throw shooter. I personally only expect him to be an average defender in the NBA, those athletic plays will be less frequent when the level of competition skyrockets and tough defense is as much mental as it is physical, and I just don’t see the “defensive stopper” mentality in him. In my opinion, the draft starts with the 2nd pick in the draft because Fultz is a no-brainer for #1.
I'll be following up this one in a few days with the only other player projected to be in our draft range that we have all of the available tape on because they missed out on March Madness: Dennis Smith Jr.
Thanks for reading, and the more discussion we get the better. I'm also hoping to get some feedback to make the next one better for everyone. What would you like to see added? What did and didn't you like? Would you prefer a new post of the next one or just to edit the post to the next player and update the title? etc. etc.