NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Markelle Fultz

by Jonah Ballow
NYKnicks.com
@jonahballow

The Path
Markelle Fultz hails from Maryland where he excelled on the high school basketball landscape prior to accepting a scholarship at the University of Washington.  The blue-chip recruit participated in national events for the top young ballers in America, such as the McDonald’s All American Game and Nike Hoop Summit.  In 25 games at Washington, Fultz became a household name for fans keeping a close eye on the NBA Draft class for 2017.  The 6-4 point guard posted 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Huskies in his lone season on the college basketball scene.

Strengths
Where do we begin?  One of the most talented players in the class owns diverse skill-sets on both sides of the floor.  First, let’s examine Fultz’s dynamic offensive capabilities that led to his stellar freshman campaign.  With an NBA-ready body, Fultz reached his desired spots on the floor with ease, utilizing a strong first step and tremendous change of pace.  Fultz finishes in traffic, around defenders, and above the opposition due to his elite athleticism.  He’s an instinctual playmaker with the ability to work off screens whether it’s nailing step-back jumpers, pull-up attempts, driving, or dishing to open teammates.  The 19-year old has a great feel for the game when finding shooters in the open floor and half-court sets.  Defensively, Fultz has scouts drooling over his potential.  The former Washington standout recorded 1.6 steals and a remarkable 1.2 blocks per game at the point guard position to go along with 5.7 boards per outing in 2016-17.

Next Level
At the moment, Fultz is the consensus projected No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.  He’s as NBA-ready as any of the top prospects in recent memory with the perfect frame for the position, exceptional offensive skills, and upside on the defensive end of the floor.  The only question mark for Fultz is his ability to lead a below average team at the next level.  This won’t be an immediate problem if the Celtics select him No. 1 but scouts have yet to see Fultz in pressure packed situations.  Washington did not reach the NCAA Tournament this past season.  With that said, his talents are undeniable and the hype surrounding this young man will most likely be validated in the near and long-term future in the NBA.

Statistically Speaking
Fultz has one of the highest PER marks in the 2017 draft class at 28.3.

What They’re Saying
“Fultz is a tantalizingly gifted shot-creator, sporting an extraordinary combination of body control, ball-handling, footwork, and pace.” – Jonathan Givony, Draft Express