Markelle Fultz: Point Guard – Washington, Turns 20 next May
Measurables: 6-4, 195 lbs., 6-9 wingspan
Strengths: Explosiveness, Complete Offensive Package, Three-Level Scoring, Strength, Smooth, Versatility, Defensive Potential
Weaknesses: Defensive Intensity, Consistent Energy, Leadership, Free-Throw Percentage
Conclusion: Fultz is in a tier of his own for the 2017 NBA Draft. There are several other prospects with the upside and potential to become elite All-Stars, but Fultz is the only prospect that comes into the league without any significant weaknesses in his game. Each one of the “weaknesses” listed were a byproduct of Fultz’s college situation, and he should be able to answer questions about his defensive effort, consistent energy, and leadership qualities with higher quality teammates surrounding him. At Washington, he was a solo act and expended most of his energy on offense, but although his natural disposition is laid-back I was pleasantly surprised by his attitude. He is a leader by example, and even though he rested the final games of his college career he didn’t show his frustration with teammates like Ben Simmons did last year at LSU. Defensively, he has shown flashes of high-quality effort when motivated, and he has the physical attributes to excel if his role is more balanced on his pro team.
The qualities that make him the top prospect in this draft are immediately apparent when watching him play. He has the prototypical, modern NBA physique – combining a 6-9 wingspan with a strong frame. He plays smoothly on and off the ball, taking advantage of a strong first step, good footwork, and the ability to shift and change speeds. His scoring skills are strong-to-elite on all three levels. The shooting is natural beyond the arc and in the midrange. In the paint, he can finish at the rim with contact, and boasts the agility to side-step defenders before creatively finishing layups over length. The added value he brings is flexibility (to any roster situation) in the NBA. He can play both guards spots on offense and defense. Fultz is a natural playmaker, but has the shooting and off-ball ability to share playmaking duties with another guard. Markelle is one of my favorite prospects to enter the draft in the last few seasons simply because I don’t see any path that will prevent him from becoming an All-Star aside from catastrophic injury. Expect his name to be announced first on June 22nd.