The Los Angeles Lakers worked out Washington’s Markelle Fultz on Thursday morning, projected by most to get drafted with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Although the Lakers hold the No. 2 pick in the draft, Fultz explains that the decision to work out for L.A. was a ‘family’ one, as you never know what might happen on draft night.
Fultz humors the possibility of playing alongside D’Angelo Russell in the Lakers backcourt and how that might compare to getting drafted by the Boston Celtics and playing alongside Isaiah Thomas. Plus, how does he liken himself to other guards in this draft and in what ways has UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball motivated him to be better?
Video of the full interview is above and the full transcription is below.
How did the workout go and what were you trying to show the Lakers?
Just the way I can shoot the ball, my work ethic and how hard I play.
How hard was it physically?
Any workout by yourself is pretty difficult but I think I did a pretty good job of just pushing myself as hard as I could.
In mock drafts when you look at them, everyone has you at number one, what went into the decision to come work out for the Lakers?
I think it was a family decision, just going through it, getting every opportunity, you never know where I might land, so just wanted to see how it is out here
Do you know if you will work out for any other teams?
Not that I’m sure of, still got to talk to my family after this one like I did after my last workout and see what we’re going to do.
When you’re doing just the individual workouts, you don’t really get to show your whole game, so what went into today’s workout?
I think we did some screen and roll stuff, played through the screen and roll shooting some threes and getting to the rim, just different types of finishes, just seeing how I score off the screen and roll pretty much.
Does it matter if you get picked first or second?
Doesn’t matter to me, I’m blessed to play the game, wherever I go but I would like to go one, but wherever I land is where I go.
What feedback did they give you after the workout?
Pretty good job, I worked hard, they saw that I worked hard, they saw that I have the mechanics to shoot the ball right and everything like that so that’s all that really mattered.
There were initial reports out that you were only going to work out for the Celtics, what went into the thought process to work out for the Lakers?
Me and my family never said that we were just going to work out with one team. After the last workout, we sat down and talked about it and decided to come out here
How did you feel today’s workout went compared to your Boston workout?
I’d say pretty much just worked hard and did what I could and I believe I did my best so that’s all that matters.
You already met with the Lakers at the combine, what did you learn about them today that you didn’t know before?
Pretty much the same thing, just building a better relationship with them, coming out here and seeing the facility and everything like that, just seeing the owners and stuff like that, pretty much the same thing, just building a better relationship.
Was it more casual than your meeting at the combine?
Yeah, a little bit, they don’t got on suits and stuff, so a bit more relaxed and I’m in my home where I love to play at so, it’s even better for me not being dressed up to, just me being out here, being myself.
Are you spending even more time with them later, lunch or anything like that?
Yeah, I’ll probably go grab lunch and see the new facility.
You like to be more of the under the radar type of guy, have you thought about what it would like to be just with all the Hollywood lights and all of that?
Really to me, it doesn’t matter, wherever I go, I’m going to be the same guy, I’m going to be humble, of course like you said here, the Hollywood lights, it would be great publicity and getting my brand out there and just building myself.
What do you think of the other top point guards in the draft like Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox and what they bring to the table compared to what you do?
I respect all of them, they all got different types of games, I feel that I fill in every box on both ends of the floor and I think that’s what the difference is.
How do you think you’d fit on a court with D’Angelo Russell?
I think I‘d fit well, he can play off at the 2, I can play off at the 2. We would fit together. Basketball players who are pretty good at what they do, learn how to play with each other.
When is the last time you played like real 5-on-5?
Yeah it’s been a long time since I’ve played 5-on-5. It’s getting to me, but it’s been awhile.
Are you excited for Summer League then?
Yeah for sure, definitely just to get out there and play with my teammates, whatever team I go to, I just love the game so whenever I get a chance to play, it just makes me happy.
How did you approach the leadership role at Washington?
At first being a freshman, it’s kind of hard going in there with the seniors but as the season went on, I was always the guy to lead by example, just building my character to go in and speak more, so going in there I really built a leadership role.
Was that a tough season for you in terms of the losses and what did you learn along the way?
Yeah for sure I mean it was very tough, nobody went in thinking we were going to lose that many games but I think I built relationships and we learned more than we could ever learn losing that many games, how to fight through adversity, just sticking together, sticking with each other through everything, off the court, on the court, I think that’s pretty big.
You’ve said before that rivalry with Lonzo Ball has motivated you to be better, in what ways?
Every way. I’m a competitor, so anybody that’s in front of me, I’m going to try to take them out and Lonzo is a great guard, so both competing for the same position, so just stepping on the court, I’m trying to beat him in everything that I do. If that’s time I shoot faster or anything it really doesn’t matter.
What do you consider your biggest strengths as a player and the areas you probably need to improve the most?
My biggest strengths is just playmaking ability on and off the ball, scoring the ball, getting assists, rebounding, just doing pretty much anything to impact the game and I think the stuff need to work on are more on the defensive end, team defense, being locked in every possession, I wouldn’t say I’m a terrible defender, but it’s just about being locked in.
What are the challenges with trying to stay locked in possession after possession?
It’s just a mindset really, just building that mindset really every possession, I might be tired, but fighting through fatigue and saying I’m not going to let my guy score but not only that being in a position I need to be if my teammates get blown by.
Was there any message said to you by the Lakers, whether it be defense or offense or anything in particular?
Not really, they love what I do and I appreciate them for giving me for this opportunity and I’m just a good kid so they mostly speak about off the court.
Can you see yourself playing here?
Yeah, for sure I can see myself playing here, it’s a great city a great team, a lot of history behind this team.
Have you thought about what it would be like to play alongside a young core versus going to another young core that’s more seasoned? The Lakers are obviously in the rebuilding stages…
I’ve thought about both, being with a young team is pretty much going to feel like college again. Either, or, it’s both good experience coming to a young team coming to an old team, I’m just blessed to play the game.
If Boston takes you what do you think the fit would be like with you and Isaiah Thomas?
I think it would be a great fit, he was a husky so automatically we’ve got a bond there and like I said he can play off the ball I can play on the ball but either way that would be a great fit too.
Speaking of Isaiah he’s one of those guys that say you’re the full package. What’s it like to have big time guys say those things about you?
It’s a blessing really, just to show that everybody else sees my hard work and it just puts a little bit of a fire up under me just to make me work harder and everyday I come to work out just to give it my all just because I see other people seeing it and most importantly I see myself seeing it.
What are your next steps toward getting ready for the draft?
After this workout, go home and sit down with my parents, see if he’s going to make any more visits, and then just get ready for that process, it’s going to be an unbelievable process, something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid so im really looking forward to it.