Prospect Profile: Markelle Fultz

Leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft, we will be diving into what our models tell us about this year’s top prospects. These Prospect Profiles will look at which stats positively/negatively affect NBA projections, unique data points from a player’s stats, and relevant comparisons to current NBA players. You can find links to all of our Prospect Profiles in the header menu above (NBA –> NBA Draft –> Prospect Profiles).

In this article we dive into the consensus top ranked prospect Markelle Fultz from the perspective of our Draft Models. Our Draft Models include our PNSP Model, NBA Role Probability Model, and Similarity Scores which each provide unique ways of evaluating college prospects.

Markelle Fultz | PG/SG | Washington | Freshman

Draft Express #1 | Model 284 PNSP #2
Physical Measurements: 6’3.5″ | 190lbs | Wingspan: 6’9.75″
Top Player Comps: Terrence Williams, Isaiah WhiteheadJamal Crawford

Yr School Age PTS/40 TRB/40 AST/40 STL/40 BLK/40
2016-17 Washington 19.0 26.0 6.4 6.6 1.8 1.3
Model 284
PNSP All-Star % Starter % Bench % Non-NBA %
96.5  46.8%  33.8%  6.3%  13.0%

Markelle Fultz is the consensus top prospect in this year’s NBA draft among draft experts and our draft models seem to agree. Fultz ranks number 2 overall by our PNSP model and also has the second highest All-Star Probability by our NBA Role Probability Model (both marks among all 2017 NBA Draft Prospects). Fultz’s high PNSP and All-Star Probability put him in elite company; below is a list of other players who have had a PNSP score greater than 95 and an All-Star probability greater than 45%.

Player All Star % PNSP
Rafael Araujo 47.9% 96.9
Michael Beasley 78.9% 99.4
Kevin Love 46.4% 99.1
John Wall 59.6% 97.3
DeMarcus Cousins 80.3% 96.2
Kyrie Irving 60.9% 99.7
Marcus Smart 45.7% 98.4
Markelle Fultz 46.8% 96.5

While Washington may have had one of the worst teams in college basketball last season, Fultz still put up incredible individual numbers. For reference, below is the extensive list of the players since 1997 that have averaged greater than 20 Points, 5 Rebounds, 5 Assists, 1 Steal and 1 Block per game in a college basketball season:

Markelle Fultz 23.2 5.9 5.7 1.6 1.2

Yup, that’s it. So… yeah, Fultz really is in his own category when it comes to elite box score production. Due to that tremendous production, there have not been many college players similar to Fultz. Below are Fultz’s top 10 player comps from our Similarity Score Algorithm. Notably, Fultz has no similarity scores greater than 90 and only 5 players above 80. For comparison, of the current Draft Express top 25 college prospects, 22 of them have at least one similarity score >= 97 and 17 of them have at least two similarity scores >= 97. Historically, players without many highly similar players are either NBA All-Stars or Busts (e.g. Kevin Durant, Anthony Bennett, etc.). Another interesting note is that both Dennis Smith Jr.and Lonzo Ball make Fultz’s top 10 list.

The one area that our models slightly penalize Fultz is his free throw shooting. Fultz shot roughly 65% from the line which is surprising given his 41.3% 3-point shooting. While the poor free throw shooting hurts his NBA projected 3-point shooting ability, Fultz still hit 52 threes on 41.3% shooting – which is enough to project as a slightly above-average 3-point shooter in the NBA. The table below displays drafted NBA prospects since 1997 that made more than 40 3 pointers in their last season of college basketball on better than 40% shooting, while having a free throw percentage less than 70%.

Player College 3P Made College 3P% College FT% NBA 3P%
Vince Carter 44 41.1% 68.0%  37.4%
Jason Richardson 49 40.2% 68.9%  37.0%
Matt Barnes 43 41.7% 61.9%  33.5%
Antonio Burks 57 41.3% 63.2%  NA
Antoine Wright 71 44.7% 69.1%  30.4%
Daequan Cook 54 41.5% 69.7%  35.9%
Cory Joseph 52 41.3% 69.9%  31.7%
Orlando Johnson 70 42.7% 69.8%  31.1%
Rico Hill 45 49.5% 69.7%  NA
Jeff Taylor 66 42.3% 60.5%  31.9%
Justise Winslow 46 41.8% 64.1%  25.8%
Brandon Ingram 80 41.0% 68.2%  29.4%
Isaiah Cousins 65 41.1% 67.0%  NA
Markelle Fultz 52 41.3% 64.9%  NA
Lonzo Ball 80 41.2% 67.3%  NA

Despite having made a decent amount of threes at a high percentage in college, none of these players would be classified as elite 3-point shooters. Fultz should still be an adequate 3-point shooter in the NBA, just don’t expect Steph Curry 2.0.

Fultz showed a tremendous ability to score at all 3 levels in college. Per, Fultz attempted 112 shots at the rim, 201 shots from mid-range, and 106 shots from 3. He finished with 61.6% at the rim, 45.8% from mid-range, and 41.3% from 3. Impressive marks considering he had little to no help at Washington.

Overall, Fultz is a former top 10 high school recruit who – despite just turning 19 years old – has shown impressive collegiate production and has a solid physical profile for an NBA lead guard. By our models, Fultz projects as above-average in every statistical category except for free throw shooting percentage, where he projects slightly below average. Fultz did not perform well as a defender at Washington from a scouting perspective, but, given his NBA projections in steals and blocks paired with his physical profile, Fultz should be an adequate defender if-and-when engaged. Ultimately, it is clear that there is little to pick apart with Fultz’s game statistically, and the draft models are in agreement that Fultz is about as sure of a bet as you can get for a top prospect.

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