Fultz is a franchise lead guard, future All-Star, and a player any organization can build around. He's best utilized on the ball with shooting around him, as he's a tremendous pick and roll player (30.4% of his offense, 93rd percentile) who can score at all three levels and facilitate with creativity. He's no slouch off the ball either, as he's a capable, yet improving, spot shooter and excellent playing off of closeouts. Fultz also has the size and length to defend twos, and even some threes in smaller lineups. All in all, he's a versatile, plug and play lead guard with star potential who is easy to build around or fit into a current roster.
With the Sixers agreeing to a deal with the Celtics that will land them the #1 pick in Thursday's draft, Fultz's fate has already decided, and from a basketball standpoint, Philadelphia is an excellent fit for the 6'5 guard. Fultz's ability to play either guard spot blends very well with 2016 #1 pick Ben Simmons, who is at his best in grab and go situations and thrives as a half-court facilitator.
On the ball, pairing Fultz with a pick and roll partner who can pop and shoot would be ideal for his offensive production, and Simmons leaves something to be desired there, but his ability to pop and playmake makes him a threat nonetheless. Joel Embiid gives the Huskies guard a versatile big who can lob-catch on hard rolls, or space the floor out to the three-point line comfortably. Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes also have some stretch-ability relative to their positions, and Robert Covington, although coming off a down year shooting the ball, spaces the floor at the combo forward spot. Head coach Brett Brown can even get creative with Fultz as the screener given Simmons' ability to handle out of ball screens.
Simmons' lack of shooting does shrink the floor a little bit for Fultz when he's on the ball, but the shifty guard should have more than enough room to operate, and his dynamic ball screen shot creation will fit well on a team that's been sorely lacking a three-level scorer at the guard spot. The fact that he has another facilitator next to him in Simmons will likely alleviate some pressure early on, especially because the Sixers are still searching for more of a long-term option at the two. A player like J.J. Redick, a free agent this offseason, could be a great fit given his shooting, toughness on defense, and non-ball-dominant efficient style of play.
The Sixers finished last in the NBA in transition points per possession last season, but they at least want to get up and down (fifth in the NBA in pace), which also suits Fultz's strengths extremely well. He can lane-fill next to Simmons or push himself, using his herky jerky style of play to put pressure on the rim and find athletes or shooters.
Culture fit is even more important than personnel fit for a player like Fultz, as he's fresh off of a nine-win season at a Washington program that lacked discipline and structure. The Maryland native would really benefit from going to an organization with strong infrastructure, a winning culture, and an emphasis on defense, which are definitely areas the Sixers are still developing.
As was the case at Washington, it's easy for Fultz to fade in and out defensively - he has to be challenged and held accountable there. The fact that he's next to young up and coming stars will definitely make the Sixers exciting, but Fultz, a worker himself, will benefit from more of a veteran presence, like a Redick. The Celtics may have been a better organizational fit for Fultz in terms of challenging him and eliminating some of his defensive habits, but the Sixers are a franchise on the rise that's loaded with young talent, and Fultz has a perfect opportunity to grow with them, win sooner than their ages would suggest, and build something special long-term in Philadelphia.
I have to admit, I didn't watch much Washington this year.
These are the often the questions your run of the mill college basketball and NBA fan has about Washington's Markelle Fultz.
Some of them are valid.THE BACKSTORY
Fultz didn't win at Washington. He didn't revive a Huskies program that hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011, when Isaiah Thomas lifted UW to the big dance with a Pac-12 Tournament Championship buzzer beater against Arizona. The 2016-17 Fultz-led Huskies played with borderline pathetic intensity and defensive fire on a game to game basis. Who would want to watch a lackadaisical Washington team get destroyed by 20-plus points repeatedly?
But how much of the forgettable season at Washington is on Fultz?
In his defense, Fultz was expecting to play with both Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss in Seattle, both of whom turned into surprise one-and-dones after strong freshman seasons. His supporting cast was underwhelming, to put it lightly - no T.J. Leaf as his Robin, no Ike Anigbogu protecting the rim and catching lobs, no sharp-shooter like Bryce Alford to whip it ahead to in transition, and no spacing in the half court (the Huskies often played two traditional non-shooting bigs).
It would be easy to put Fultz in the same category as Ben Simmons, who wanted his own show at LSU and didn't play with any fight whatsoever when the going got tough. Often distant from his teammates, Simmons more or less mailed it in mid-season and used his time in Baton Rouge as an NBA pit stop. While it may look similar, or even worse, on the surface, Fultz's situation is different. Why? It starts with his trajectory.
Fultz didn't commit to Washington, a mediocre Pac-12 program at the time, because he wanted to be the headliner, pounding the ball and coasting defensively on his way to the #1 overall pick. He wasn't the top recruit in his class early in his high school career. In fact, as the story goes, Fultz didn't play varsity basketball until his junior season at DeMatha Catholic, a Maryland powerhouse.
Fultz's entire path to relevance screams humility, not entitlement. I first saw him in January of 2015 in Scottsdale, Arizona, really by accident. I wanted to get a look at his teammate, D.J. Harvey, now an incoming freshman at Notre Dame, because he had a lot of hype as a skilled guard with great size. Harvey was just OK against Sierra Canyon, but the consolation prize was #20 in red and blue, standing around 6'2, young in the face with long arms, unique body control, and a loose, creative handle. He wasn't overly productive or really sure what he was doing at the time, but Fultz floated seamlessly with the ball, moving at a different pace than everyone else. Even though Fultz caught my eye, I would have never thought that the smooth, gangly two guard would develop into the potential #1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, only two and a half years later.
That type of rapid development doesn't happen by accident, and Fultz didn't commit to Washington as an easy path to the NBA. Former Washington assistant and recruiting guru Raphael Chillious, now at UConn, forged a relationship with Fultz well before his rise to the #4 RSCI player in his class. Fultz stayed loyal to the first major school to show interest in him, and eventually committed to the Huskies in August of 2015. For all the questions about his competitiveness, Fultz is a worker, a self-made player, and a hoops junkie. He keeps a small circle, and is more quiet than boisterous. No family members hyping him to the media, just a simple kid from Upper Marlboro, MD raised by his mother and his supporting cast.
Can he win? Fultz was a huge part of the USA U16 FIBA Americas team that took home gold in the summer of 2016, averaging a ridiculous 13.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists in only 21.8 minutes. He played a role in blowing out the World Team at the 2016 Nike Hoop Summit, and helped lead Team Wall to a 5-0 record and Adidas Nations Championship in 2015. Some of the questions surrounding Fultz regarding his intensity and winning mentality still certainly have to be answered. He has a relaxed demeanor, and situation or not, had some very forgettable defensive moments in Seattle. He didn't always take over from the jump, and sometimes isn't the first to punch. But Fultz's situation is very different from Ben Simmons', or even Dennis Smith's at N.C. State.
The public perception of Fultz, among some, doesn't quite match up with reality, as it's important to know his starting point, background, and path before dubbing him an eternal stat-stuffer on a losing team'. For the uninformed, the narrative is too easy to fall into - Lonzo Ball, an unselfish, do-it-all winner who took one of the most storied NCAA programs out of the gutter in exciting fashion, versus the talented, yet underwhelming Markelle Fultz, who is another example of the flaws in the one-and-done era.
This situation is certainly not that. Not to take anything away from Lonzo Ball, he's a special talent who makes basketball fun and his teammates better, and may very well end up being the best player to come out of this draft. But the narrative too often surrounding Fultz is far from the truth.
So with all of that in mind, what type of player is Fultz exactly?THE MODERN LEAD GUARD
The NBA has transitioned away from smaller, pass-first floor generals who organize half-court sets and manage the flow of the game. With multiple shooters, ball-handlers, and thinkers ideally on the floor, coaches and scouts covet big guards who can put pressure on the rim in transition, score from all three levels out of pick and roll, and make every ball screen read necessary to ignite a free-flowing, crisp half-court attack predicated on ball movement, player movement and shot-making. In the last two minutes of a tight NBA finals game, who can make something happen in the half court with transition out of the question, defenses tightened, and the floor shrunk late in the clock.
This is where Fultz comes in.
Fultz is a big guard - 6'5, 198 pounds, 6' 10 wingspan - with unique athleticism, impressive body control, long strides, an instinctual and creative handle, pull-up game from three and mid-range, the frame/touch/extension to finish in traffic, and the passing instincts and unselfishness to get others involved consistently.
Simply put, he's as versatile as it gets on the ball, while still being able to have an impact off the ball as he's a capable spot shooter, comfortable attacking off the catch, and can think the game on the move, while having the tools to defend either guard spot.
Although some of his stats could be called empty' given the blowout nature in which they often came, Fultz's productivity at his age can't be understated. Take this stat, for example:
Fultz is the only player in our database (which includes every player drafted since 1984) to have, at age 20 or younger, ever averaged at least 20 points and five assists per game while shooting over 50% from two and 40% from three. He checks a lot of boxes offensively, and although he still has some areas to clean up (defensive intensity, shooting consistency off the catch, and sometimes lackadaisical nature), Fultz has more star potential than any player in this draft. The fact that he was able to score efficiently and post a solid 1.85 assist to turnover ratio with a clogged paint and very little help makes you wonder what he'll able to do with a spread floor and shooting around him.
So Fultz is a modern-day lead guard, but who is he similar to? What are his closest comps both physically and in terms of style, strengths, and weaknesse? We took an in-depth look at how Fultz compares to the following players in terms of physical tools, three-level scoring, and playmaking on the ball: D'Angelo Russell, James Harden, Brandon Roy, and Dwyane Wade.
Due to film limitations - the key is to compare them at the same age - some players are emphasized more than others, and Brandon Roy's film is from his senior season, not his freshman season.PHYSICAL TOOLS
Fultz is no longer the 6'2 gangly guard that he was in 2015, and he compares quite favorably to the guards shown above. In terms of sheer tools, Fultz's closest physical comparison is D'Angelo Russell, but he actually reminds a bit more of Dwyane Wade when you take his athletic profile into account. Similar size, length and frame (at the same age), Fultz isn't quite as quick or explosive (he's more smooth and fluid) as Wade, also known as Flash early in his career, but they have similarly unique body control and side to side agility while on the move. The two guards are also fairly alike in their leaping ability as both, although not dunk-contest style freaks, can get up off of one or two feet in space. Fultz is clearly not the competitor or defender that Wade was, but he does have a comparable ability to slant his lower body to the ground, cut angles and dodge help defenders with relative ease, shifting gears and changing direction along the way.
In terms of the rest of group, Harden is quicker, more powerful (222 pounds), and more forceful in his movements than Fultz at the same age. Russell is far less athletic in a functional sense, and Roy has better size, plays almost exclusively off of two feet, and relies more on height than wiggle, although he does have some lateral agility just to a lesser degree.PRODUCTIVITY
Fultz, Harden, Wade and Russell were all extremely productive freshmen in their own ways - Fultz a versatile three-level scorer and facilitator, Harden a powerful slasher who could shoot off the catch or dribble and playmake, Wade a quick and aggressive driver and mid-range killer who took a sizeable 17.4 two-pointers per 40 minutes, and Russell, a smooth-shot maker and flashy passer who played at his own pace. Roy played only 13 games as a freshman due to injury and took four years to develop into the #6 overall pick in 2006.
Unlike Fultz, however, all of the aforementioned guards played fairly competitive games, which has to be taken into account to some degree. Harden's Sun Devils missed the NCAA Tournament, but went 21-13 on the year. Roy's Huskies lost in overtime of the Sweet 16 to UConn. Russell's Buckeyes made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, before falling to Arizona. Wade's Golden Eagles finished 26-7, and although they lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Chicago guard followed up his redshirt freshman season with a remarkable Final Four run as a redshirt sophomore.
So while Fultz's individual stats certainly stand out and Washington's nine-win dud of a season can't rest entirely on his shoulders, his productivity in comparison to the other guards has to be taken with somewhat of a grain of salt. THREE-LEVEL SCORERS - FIRST LEVEL - THREE BALL
Looking around the NBA, almost all elite offensive players are three-level scorers, with that first level (3-point shooting) reigning king. You certainly have your DeMar Derozans of the world, but the majority of top scoring guards in the NBA are deadly from three - Harden, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, to name a few. Of the 1,321 half-court shots Harden took this past regular season, half (655) of them came from three. Of Curry's 1,133 regular season half court attempts, more than half (605) were hoisted beyond the arc.
So how does Fultz fit into the deep-ball-heavy NBA and how does he compare to the aforementioned guards as a three-point shooter at the same age?
Outside of the smooth, sharp-shooting Russell, Fultz is the most advanced off the dribble three-point shooter of the group. While he has a tendency to shoot on the way down somewhat, and his 64.5% free throw percentage is somewhat alarming, he's a tough shot maker all the way out to three and can get to his pull-up three ball with exaggerated hang dribbles, sweeping crossovers, and step backs going left. His herky-jerky style of play makes him a nightmare cover, and he can hop or 1-2 into threes comfortably out of ball screens as well. In only 25 games, Fultz knocked down an impressive 59-of-140 off the dribble jumpers overall during his lone season at Washington.
Russell shot a much easier ball as a freshman and relied more on deception than elevation and wiggle, but he's likely Fultz's closest comparison as a pull up three-point shooter. Russell's 7.8 three-point attempts per 40 minutes at a 41.1% clip make him one of the better shooting guards at that age we've seen in some time, yet it hasn't quite translated all that well to the NBA just yet (under 36% from three through two seasons).
Although he developed into a very solid elevation-based shooter, Roy was a non-threat as a freshman (10% 3P%), Wade was somewhat capable but very selective (2.2 attempts per 40) and much better in mid-range spots, and Harden had a very compact stroke and played off of hang dribbles like Fultz, but wasn't quite as prolific in terms of attempts. Harden shot a cleaner ball than Fultz, but he attempted only 53 pull up jumpers as a freshman (0.74 PPP) to Fultz's 140.
Fultz still has some strides to make as a spot-up shooter, as his release is a bit slow, evident by the fact that 81.7% of his catch and shoot jumpers were of the guarded' variety. In terms of the speed of his release and his setup, he compares somewhat similarly to Harden off the catch. Russell is by far the best spot shooter of the group - 1.182 PPP when guarded' - sporting an ultra-quick, simple set shot that he doesn't need to dip to get rhythm.
Overall, Fultz is an advanced, yet streaky, shot-maker from three, who has more unique ways to create space and get to his pull up in his arsenal than most of these guards at the same stage.SECOND LEVEL - MIDDLE GAME
As much as the NBA is becoming a threes and dunks' league, every great scorer is still a major threat in mid-range spots. Kobe Bryant, DeMar Derozan, Wade, and Chris Paul, made a living off of the middle game, and Fultz, while a threat from three as well, has the ingredients to own the mid-range pull up as well, thanks to his shifty nature, shot-creation skills and ability to make off balance, contested jumpers at a fairly high rate. He does have a tendency to live off tough jumpers a bit too often, but the fact that he can get to his jumper at will inside the arc against most ones or twos is extremely valuable.
Whether by way of hang dribbles, step backs, or bounce outs via pick and roll (30.4% of his offense), Fultz knocked down 40-of-95 inside the arc jumpers, almost identical to Russell's 42-for-96 clip (although Fultz played ten fewer games). Russell shoots a set shot off the bounce, relying on his choppy handle, footwork, and stomp step backs to keep defenders leaning while bringing the ball up quickly when the defender is least expecting it. He was always great at putting his defender in jail' in pick and roll situations by keeping him on his back, making the big defender play him before firing from 17 feet, somethin Fultz is still developing.
While similar in accuracy and volume, Fultz's mid-range game more closely resembles Wade's as he's more reliant on getting into the body of his defender, and rising up over the top. Fultz isn't quite as quick with his footwork or as crafty as Wade, who loved shot fakes, going glass, and post turnarounds, but his separation and elevation-based pull up game most closely resembles Wade, arguably one of the best mid-range shooters of all time.
There are some elements of Fultz's pull up game that are very unique to him. He regularly employs a live dribble, mid-pivot right handed spin move that almost always catches defenders off guard. A lot like a 2017 version of DeRozan, he also uses half spins and stomp pivot dribbles to create space.
Like Fultz, Roy also thrived as a rise and fire style mid-range shooter who could use hesitations and crossovers to get to his pull ups and loved to operate on the block versus smaller guards. Not quite as advanced with step-backs, and more reliant on short runners than deep pull ups, Roy certainly had some similarities with Fultz in terms of his middle game. As for Harden, he could keep defenders on his back and rise up off of sharp 1-2s, but he took just 30 inside the arc jumpers, knocking down only 10. All in all, Wade had likely the most advanced, deadly mid-range game of them all, but Fultz isn't all that far behind.THIRD LEVEL - SLASHING
There are quite a few guards in the NBA who can stretch it to three and/or get to contested mid-range pull ups, but struggle putting pressure on the rim in the half court. Take the 2017 Draft crop for example. Guys like Malik Monk and Luke Kennard can fill it up from the perimeter in a variety of ways, but can they get into the teeth of the defense in the half court versus NBA length and athleticism? Although he's missing the mid-range element, you could pose the same question about Lonzo Ball. Russell's lack of elite athleticism putting pressure on the rim has handicapped him at times at the NBA level.
This is what makes Fultz so special - not only can he get to his jumper off the bounce from three or mid-range, he's also a rangy driver who can play at different speeds, get to the front of the rim in one dribble in space, and finish with contact or over length. Fultz isn't as quick as Wade or Harden, but he's smooth with a herky-jerky style of play, shifting gears with relative force and striding his way to the rim, before using his long arms, big hands and strong frame at the rim.
Fultz has had his issues getting all the way to the rim out of isolation situations on a space-depleted Washington team, but with the threat of his pull-up, along with NBA spacing, he should have very little problem getting into the teeth of the defense at the next level. His hang dribble game makes him a tough cover for any guard, and he splits ball screens either with quick crosses or behind the back wrap dribbles. Fultz is also really comfortable attacking on the catch, often changing direction immediately with cross steps or spin moves, and eventually dodging help defenders with impressive body control. Like Russell, Harden and Roy, Fultz has soft touch on floaters as well.
Wade was likely the most dynamic slasher of the bunch, while Harden was both powerful, quick and creative, using sharp crossovers and aggressive jab steps to drop his man. His tremendous free throw rate and 57.6 two-point percentage are both indicative of the type of barrel-chested slasher and finisher he was. Russell had to play almost exclusively off of his jumper, using the pull up threat to suck defenders in, before scurrying to the paint for floaters. There are some similarities between Roy and Fultz as slashers, although Fultz has a bit more creativity in his game at the same stage.
Fultz is also quite dynamic in transition, shifting gears, playing slow to fast, getting to the front of the rim, and exploding with momentum behind him. Although not as fast and aggressive, his transition game resembled some Wade and some Harden in terms of agility and change of speeds. As long as Fultz is shooting the ball at a solid level in the half court, he'll be able to live in the paint much more than he did at Washington, with a spread floor and shooters around him.PLAYMAKING
While the emphasis of this piece is more on Fultz's three-level scoring, and how it compares to other lead guards with similar tools, his vision and unselfishness can't go undiscussed, as he's far more than just a scorer and further along as a playmaker than all these lead guards at the same age, save Russell.
Although he wasn't always able to show it with the starting five the Huskies trotted out, Fultz has excellent vision and instincts, uses his size well out of pick and roll, can thread the needle in transition or the half court, and more often than not tries to play the right way. He can really score, but is unselfish in nature, which may have even cost the Huskies a game or two this past season.
Russell was a flashier passer at the same age, throwing no-look darts and skimming cross court spin passes through traffic right to his teammates. Fultz doesn't quite have that in his game at this stage, but he does have an advantage in that he's able to get into the teeth of the defense much easier than Russell, a below average NBA athlete. Fultz's three-level scoring, positional size, pick and roll play, and passing instincts/creativity give him a lot of potential as a half court distributor, in addition to his dynamic transition play.DEFENSIVE ELEMENT
We didn't dive too deep into the defensive side of the ball when comparing these prospects, but this is certainly an area where Fultz is behind. On one hand, he has the tools to be a multi-positional defender and the agility to make plays off the ball as well - 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per 40 minutes - but the defensive intensity and edge was often lacking at UW, both areas where Harden and Russell have struggled as well. Fultz may never be the defensive stalwart or elite rebounder of a Dwyane Wade, but if he does indeed land in a winning environment like Boston, and starts weeding out some of the bad habits he's acquired, he has the physical ability to be more than an adequate NBA defender.OVERALL ANALYSIS
Fultz didn't win, defend or compete like Dwyane Wade at the college level. He didn't knife through defenses quite as aggressively as Harden. His shooting stroke isn't quite as pure as Russell's. But his overall production, physical profile, unique athleticism, polished skill package and shot creation as a modern NBA lead guard is elite relative to the rest of his draft class. He's a three-level scorer, an unselfish facilitator, and at least has the tools to be a plus defender.
While he's not exactly Wade, Harden, Roy, or Russell, he's also not lacking the winning mentality' that his record at Washington would suggest. Fultz's ascension has been remarkable over the last few years. He's a special talent in an advantageous position - likely landing in either Boston or LA, two of the NBA's most storied franchises. Lonzo Ball is as unique of a prospect as we've seen in some time, but Fultz is a star in his own right, and is exactly what NBA franchises are looking for in a lead guard.
Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz. Scouting Report by Jonathan Givony
Asked to navigate an offense with very little spacing, alongside teammates that weren't particularly talented, experienced, organized, or suited for complementing his strengths and weaknesses, Markelle Fultz had a fantastic freshman season from an individual standpoint, but finished with a dismal 9-22 record.
The team struggled in particular defensively, where they showed very little fight and didn't look well-versed in slowing down opponents' schemes, finishing 228th in the nation in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy.
Fultz was nevertheless voted to the Pac-12's First Team All-Conference, as well as the All-Freshman team, after averaging a scintillating 25 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per-40. He had the highest PER of any freshman in the country, and the 12th highest PER for an 18-year old in the past 16 years.
Fultz has ideal physical tools for a point guard, standing 6'4 (possibly 6'5) in shoes with a massive 6'10 wingspan. He has big hands, a strong frame, and a shifty, herky-jerky style athlete who is quick off his feet and can play above the rim in space.
Here's a closer look at the strengths Fultz displayed throughout his time at Washington:
Fultz is a tantalizingly gifted shot-creator, sporting an extraordinary combination of body control, ball-handling, footwork and pace. He changes speeds, directions and uses both hands innately, spinning off opponents, splitting ball-screens frequently, and finishing with euro-steps. He combines his ability to get wherever he wants on the floor with outstanding shot-making prowess off the dribble, making 42% of his pull-up jumpers on the season, with his 1.02 PPP ranking second best among draft prospects.
At his best with the ball in his hands, Fultz ranked as the second most efficient prospect in college basketball in pick and roll situations, both as a passer or scorer, according to Synergy Sports Technology. He is highly creative and unselfish in terms of getting teammates easy baskets, and enjoyed quite a bit of success as a distributor despite not having ideal talent around him or enjoying great spacing, often sharing the floor with two non-shooting big men.
Fultz's 36% assist percentage ranks second best in this draft behind only Jawun Evans, and he doesn't turn the ball over excessively at 13.3%. He will look even better in the NBA when surrounded with better spacing and more shooters around him, as he uses both hands to distribute, sees the weak-side and strong side equally effectively thanks to his outstanding size, court vision and super high basketball IQ.
As good as Fultz is on the ball, he also has significant potential operating alongside another ball-handler with his excellent size, length and frame, giving his future NBA coach plenty of lineup flexibility. He made 38% of catch and shoot jumpers on the season according to Synergy, and even shows some budding ability to come off screens and rise up smoothly to create separation.
With all that said, Fultz still has plenty of room for development as all 18-year olds do, and will need to make some adjustments in the NBA to fulfilling his tremendously high upside.
He has a very casual approach to the game, which manifests itself on both ends of the floor, and makes him look like he's operating at half speed at times. Offensively, he has a tendency to get too cute at times with his finishes inside the paint, passes and shot-selection, as he takes a lot of tough, contested looks in the mid-range area, and finished the season shooting just 50% from 2-point range. He will turn the ball over at times trying to get too fancy with his moves or passes, attempting to thread the needle for impossible highlight reel passes.
As impressive as Fultz's shot-making ability (and 42% 3P%) as a freshman was, there are some concerns about his 65% free throw percentage, which suggest he may be prone to streakiness in larger sample sizes (he played just 25 games in college). His shooting mechanics aren't always the same, as he has a slight pause at the top of his release at times, and can still speed up the quickness in which he gets his catch and shoot jumper off in spot-up situations.
Here's a closer look at the weaknesses Fultz displayed throughout his time at Washington:
Fultz struggled to maintain his effectiveness against better competition, as his offensive efficiency took a significant tumble in the games he played against elite-level opponents. He had a more difficult time turning the corner and getting into the paint in these games seemingly, and saw his shooting percentages drop to 48% from 2 and 38% for 3, while his assist to turnover ratio declined. Many of these games ended in blowouts, so it's difficult to surmise how much we can take away from them.
The one area Fultz will undoubtedly have to improve significantly in the NBA is on the defensive end. He actually has the tools to be very effective here, as his size, strength, length, agility and instincts give him an excellent foundation to build off. He showed the ability to sit down in a stance, slide his feet and be fairly impactful in spurts, and is already quite a playmaker in terms of his ability to get in the passing lanes and come up with blocks thanks to his tremendous anticipation skills.
Fultz just hasn't demonstrated the mentality or fundamentals needed to be anywhere near consistent in this area. His intensity level can be incredibly low here at times, as he loses his focus easily, doesn't get in a stance, shows poor technique on closeouts, and will look very lazy getting back on defense. NBA teams will have to ask themselves how much of this was due to his situation, on a team that has struggled defensively for years before his arrival, and how much was due to him? The answer is likely a mix of the two, and this is undoubtedly something Fultz will have to work on, with a strong coaching staff and veteran teammates that will push him to realize his potential on this end of the floor.
Fultz is arguably the player with the highest upside in the draft, and is strong contention for the #1 pick along with Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum. NBA teams picking at the top of the draft will have to reconcile his terrific talent-level with the dismal season he had at Washington, and try to conclude how likely he is to help them win games in the immediate future, as well as long term.
Both Freshmen guards put up impressive individual stat Lines, but it was Melton and USC who came away with the win on the road.
Fultz continued to show dynamic offensive ability, scoring the ball from all over the floor including hitting four of his eight 3-point attempts. He missed a couple shots down the stretch that could have kept Washington in the game, but overall showed the total package on both ends of the floor that should have him being selected with one of the very top picks in the upcoming draft.
Melton, an 18 year old freshmen out of Crespi Carmelite High School in Los Angeles has come on strong as of late, showing impressive versatility on both ends of the floor in Pac 12 play. At 6'4" Melton has excellent size at the point guard position and has really been able to impact the game on the defensive end of the floor. He finished with 6 steals, 2 blocks, and had some very impressive individual moments defending Fultz one on one. His offensive game is still a work in progress but he has shown great promise as a playmaker while his ability to score the basketball is still improving.
Julian Applebome is a video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out the DraftExpress Video section. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.
Mike Schmitz analyzes Markelle Fultz's ability to create space with his size, ball-handling skills and advanced footwork. Fultz has already established himself as one of the better off the dribble shooters in the college game, and we study the variety of advanced moves he possesses in his arsenal that he utilizes to get his shot off and keep defenders off-balance. We also look at how some of the best shot-creators in the NBA get into their pull-up game, and study how Fultz's moves compares to theirs.
Mike Schmitz is the video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out the DraftExpress Video section. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.
Markelle Fultz, the highly recruited guard out of DeMatha High School in Maryland, took home MVP honors in Valdivia, and led the U.S. team to their fourth straight U18 FIBA Americas championship. Fultz's put an exclamation point on his impressive tournament, with a 23 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist performance in the championship game against Canada (in just 21 minutes). At 6'5, Fultz already has the size, feel, vision, and athletic ability to play both guard positions, but is most effective with the ball in his hands using his advanced ball handling skills, and footwork to get into the paint and make plays or finish at the rim.
At this point in his career, Fultz has proven he is a capable spot up shooter, something that will surely improve at the college level. As effective as he was on the offensive end of the floor, Fultz also impressed on the defensive end, leading the tournament in steals per game at 3.2, using his size and length to take opposing guards out of their rhythm. At just 18 years old the future is bright for the University of Washington commit, who very well may end up being a top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Just weeks after competing at the USA U18 Training Camp in Colorado Springs, Markelle Fultz continued his remarkable ascension with a strong few days at Stephen Curry Select Camp. Playing both on and off the ball, Fultz shot it extremely well from the perimeter, an area of his game that wasn't all that polished less than a year ago (career 34.3% from 3 via DraftExpress database). He's a trick shot wizard during water breaks, and he's able to translate that tough-shot making ability to actual game play.
Some shooters need to be perfectly square with little mechanical margin for error to make shots, but Fultz isn't one of them. His ability to contort his body in obscure ways and maintain touch regardless of shot trajectory allows him to make jumpers in a variety of ways, both off the catch and the bounce.
Per usual, Fultz showcased his tremendous court vision, instinctual creativity as a ball handler, and overall unselfishness while on the move. He can improve his ability to get by his man in the half court (especially if he wants to be more of a full-time lead guard long term) and do a better job of making the simple play rather than the flashy one, but all in all Fultz's improved shooting stroke is the cherry on top of his stellar all around basketball skill set.
At 6' 5 with a 6' 9 wingspan and an excellent frame to go along with his versatile skill set, Fultz is one of the most exciting talents in what is shaping up as a deep 2017 NBA Draft.
Strengths -Excellent size, length and frame for a lead guard 6' 4.75 with a 6' 9 wingspan and 186-pound frame that should continue to fill out in time. Huge hands. Has grown almost an inch in five months. Wears a size 15 shoe. Late bloomer. Not done growing? -Smooth athlete who naturally changes speeds and directions. Herky jerky style of play keeps defenders guessing. Not an elite athlete but can play above the rim. Glides with the ball. -Creative ball handler. -Tremendous vision and feel for where his teammates are going to be. Unselfish player. Sees passes that other guards don't. Finds a way to deliver the ball to shooters in traffic. Fits bounce passes in tight windows. Will make the simple play. -Impressive blend of scoring and playmaking. Can play on or off the ball. -Capable spot up shooter. Gets good rotation. Fairly consistent mechanics. -Tough shot-maker off the dribble. Doesn't need to be perfectly on balance. Able to create space with dribble moves. Gets solid elevation. Backward lean and fairly high release make it tough to block his shot. -Excellent timing attacking closeouts. -Has some craft as a finisher. Floater game, same foot-hand finishes, can use his right or left. -Has the tools to be a very solid on ball defender when he digs in. Able to make plays in the passing lanes. -Playful demeanor.
Weaknesses -Streaky shooter. More shot-maker than shooter at this stage. -Can be a bit loose with the ball. Creative ball handler but can tighten it up a little bit. -High confidence level can result in contested jumpers early in the clock. -Not always the most locked in defender both on and off the ball.
Outlook In a matter of two years Fultz has gone from a junior varsity sophomore to arguably the best guard in the 2016 class and a potential top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Despite the USA team being loaded with perimeter players, Fultz's talent was still able to shine through at the Nike Hoop Summit. Although he's a better athlete and not quite the shooter, the future Washington Huskie fits the D'Angelo Russell mold a lead guard who can both score and create for others with a level of creativity and flare. Fultz's trajectory has been remarkable, and there haven't been signs that the improvement will slow down soon. With the keys to Lorenzo Romar's offense, Fultz should be in position to take the Pac-12 by storm.
A late bloomer relative to many of the players in this group, we only have two sets of measurements for Fultz, both from this year since last summer when he emerged as one of the best guards in the high school class of 2016. The Washington commit has special size for a point guard, sharing similar measurable to former Seattle-area standout and current Clipper Jamal Crawford who measured 6'5.5 in shoes with a 6'10 wingspan and a 175-pound frame.
Washington signee Markelle Fultz also impressed with his combination of scoring and distributing. At 6' 4 with a 6' 8.5 wingspan, big hands and a nice frame, Fultz has the tools and game to play either guard spot, although he shined most as a primary ball handler on Wednesday. He's slippery with the ball thanks to his ability to change speeds and directions on a dime, and plays with a level of creativity you don't often see among kids his age.
Fultz is a capable shooter off the catch and does a tremendous job setting up his pull ups with hesitations, sudden dribble moves and solid footwork. Although more smooth than explosive, he's crafty around the rim, often employing wrong foot floaters to keep the defense off balance. Futlz also showed impressive vision and timing as a passer, and made plays in the passing lanes with his length. He continued to prove why he's considered one of the top guard prospects in the 2016 class.
Strengths: -Excellent size, frame and length for a lead guard prospect. Huge hands. May still be growing. Just turned 17 in late May. -Fluid athlete. Everything comes easily. Smooth with the ball. Can stop and start on a dime. Effortlessly changes speeds and directions. Gets to wherever he wants on the floor -Tremendous ball handler. Has the ball on a string. Advanced combo moves. -Outstanding feel for the game. Can play either guard spot thanks to his ball handling and vision. Creative passer. Can make the simple play. Threads the needle in transition. Uses bounce passes. Excellent timing delivering the ball. Averaged 9.1 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted to only 1.4 turnovers. -Can score in a variety of ways. 26.4 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Able to create his own shot off the dribble. Nice burst off the bounce. -Very good body control. Uses euro steps. Can finish around length with a head of steam. Uses the glass creatively with excellent touch -Capable shooter off the catch and the dribble. Great natural touch. -Good instincts on defense. Quick twitch. Jumps in the passing lanes. Disruptive in the back court. Has the tools to be a very solid on ball defender. Good effort level on defense. Gets blocks, steals and rebounds. -Excellent overall poise and demeanor.
Weaknesses: -Good not great shooter at this stage. Natural touch but has a tendency to hang onto the ball a split second too long. Slight lean back. Shoots on the way down at times. -Shot 21-of-65 (32%) from three at UAA+Nations and 57% from the free throw line -Can have a tendency to settle for contested jump shots off the dribble. -More fluid and smooth than vertically explosive. Can improve his ability to consistently finish through contact and over length. Shot just 49% for 2 in UA Association and Adidas Nations settings this summer -Very good frame but can still get stronger.
Outlook: Fultz wasn't overly efficient at Adidas Nations but he posted nearly a triple double on a per 40 minutes pace adjusted basis and proved himself as arguably the best long-term guard prospect at the camp. Fultz' physical profile, creativity with the ball, smooth style of play and outstanding passing instincts draw comparisons to No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA pick, D'Angelo Russell. Fultz has future lottery pick potential, and should be able to make a seamless transition to the lead guard spot, which will boost his NBA draft stock even more.