Weight: 195 lbs.
Position: Point Guard
PPG: 23.2 RPG: 5.7 APG: 5.9 SPG: 1.6 BPG: 1.2 FG%: 47.6 3PT%: 41.3 FT%: 64.9
Markelle Fultz is arguably the most complete offensive player in the 2017 draft class. There is very little he can’t do on that side of the floor as he combines excellent ball-handling, footwork, body control, and pace to get to wherever he wants on the floor and finish in any number of ways.
Fultz is also a more than capable shooter with excellent range, showing a great ability to shoot off the dribble as well as being an excellent catch-and-shoot player.
As good as he is as a scorer, Fultz is a very unselfish player as well, with great court vision and passing instincts. He got plenty of work in the pick-and-roll and was able to create plenty of easy opportunities for teammates, which should only improve with better players surrounding him.
Fultz has all of the physical tools you want in a point guard in this era. At around 6’4 with a 6’10 wingspan and a solid frame, he won’t be getting pushed around in the NBA. This also gives many hope about what he can do on the defensive end.
He has shown flashes of what he can do thanks to his anticipation skills, particularly playing the passing lanes, but has yet to show the consistency. Nonetheless his physical traits suggest that he will be able to defend both backcourt positions at the next level.
As was spoken about briefly, Fultz has shown no consistency on the defensive end despite having the tools to do so. With Fultz it’s more of a mental issue where he seemingly loses focus and stops trying on that end. Some of this may have to do with his situation as Washington was not a good team, but there are sure to be questions about his commitment on that end of the floor.
His mental lapses aren’t solely on defense however as he definitely had some issues on offense, sometimes settling for more difficult jumpers instead of attacking with force or turning the ball over because he’s trying to make an unnecessary pass. These issues seemed to manifest themselves more when Fultz played against tougher competition.
When playing against the likes of Arizona, UCLA, and USC Fultz’s efficiency and shooting percentage went down while his turnovers went up. Again, some of this could be attributed to his lack of help at Washington. Being on a more balanced team in the NBA could absolutely solve these issues.
Fultz is a good athlete, but he isn’t necessarily the quickest player which could potentially cause some issues. With so many quick guards in today’s NBA, he may struggle to keep up on defense. Additionally, he may struggle to get past some of the better defenders without that elite burst.
There have also been some questions about whether or not Fultz is a true point guard or more suited to play shooting guard position.
Player Comparison: Gilbert Arenas
Off-court antics and issues may be what Arenas is more known for now, but at his best Arenas was an absolutely lethal offensive player who could get his shot off against anyone and affect the game in any number of ways.
Like Arenas, Fultz will rely more on skill than pure athleticism to get where he wants on the court and get his shots off. They are also both excellent rebounders from the guard position, capable of playing off the ball thanks to their shooting, thrive in pick-and-roll situations, and are great passers who can consistently set up teammates for easy baskets.
Arenas completely changed the culture of the Washington Wizards during one of the high points in that franchise’s history. Fultz has the talent and work ethic to do the same.
Fit With the Lakers
For as much young talent as the Lakers have stockpiled right now, they lack anyone who projects as a true number one offensive option (with the possible exception of Brandon Ingram). Fultz could come in and solve that issue as the top offensive option while also giving the Lakers another much-needed playmaker.
There are some questions as to how he would fit next to D’Angelo Russell as they are very similar players who thrive with the ball in their hands and have some questions about mental lapses and defensive capabilities. The Lakers shouldn’t take that into account however, since Fultz projects as an overall better player.
Arguably the top overall player in this draft, Fultz is someone who would elevate the players around him. His shooting, versatility, and unselfishness would make him a fit in Luke Walton’s system.