BOSTON (CBS) — All signs are pointing toward Markelle Fultz having his named called before everyone else when the NBA Draft gets underway on June 22.
So it seems like a foregone conclusion that Fultz will be a member of the Boston Celtics in the very near future, another young block for a team that can both compete in the present and build for the future. Fultz spent two days in Boston in early June, interviewing with the Celtics brass, enjoying some food around town and then hosting a private workout with the team. He did not participate in most of the NBA Draft combine, opting to just interview with teams, and it remains to be seen if Fultz will work out with anyone else ahead of the draft (though those pesky Sacramento Kings rumors are causing a little bit of a stir).
Here’s an in-depth look at Fultz, who appears destined to become Boston’s star of the future on draft night.
Weight: 190 lbs
Birthday: May 29, 1998
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, MD
Points Per Game: 23.2
Assists Per Game: 5.9
Rebounds Per Game: 5.7
Steals Per Game: 1.6
Turnovers Per Game: 3.2
Field Goal Percentage: 47.6%
Three-Point Percentage: 41.3%
Free Throw Percentage: 64.9%
It wasn’t until the end of his sophomore year of High School that Fultz made it to the varsity team at DeMatha High School in Maryland, but from that point on it was a quick transition into basketball’s top prospect in 2017.
As a senior at the highly competitive DeMatha, Fultz averaged 19.1 points and 8.8 rebounds on the way to a Maryland Private School League Championship. He was the 2016 All-USA Maryland Player of the Year, and set the school’s single-season record with 278 assists.
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It didn’t take long for Fultz to make his presence felt in the NCAA, scoring 30 points in his collegiate debut in a loss to Yale. He scored 35 points in his next game, a 104-88 win over Cal State Fullerton, and finished the year with five games with 30+ points. Fultz ranked sixth in college basketball at 23.2 points per game in his only season at Washington, earning Pac 12 First Team All-Conference honors as well as a spot on the Pac 12’s All-Freshman team. He set the Washington freshman single-season points record with his 579.
Before he hit the college ranks, Fultz played on the gold-winning 2016 U-18 FIBA America’s championship team where he took home MVP honors, finishing the tournament off by scoring 23 points in just 21 minutes in the title game against Canada. He was also a 2016 McDonald’s All American, scoring 10 points in 15 minutes with four rebounds, six assists and three steals for the East team in a losing cause.
– This kid can do it all, and it’s hard to find many shortcomings in Fultz’s offensive game. He can create his shot and score at all three levels of the court. He can use both hands, has a quick first step and can get baskets in a number of different ways thanks to his length and size (you’re going to hear a whole lot about that wingspan before and after the draft). Fultz is strong and doesn’t shy away from contact, so he isn’t afraid to attack the hoop with his nice collection of crafty moves.
– Putting up points is only part of the equation with Fultz, as he’s also a creative and gifted passer. He finished with a higher assist percentage and lower turnover percentage than his draft rival Lonzo Ball, and his passing should just get better at the next level with better shooters and scorers around him.
– Brad Stevens will love Fultz’s patience off the pick and roll. Fultz doesn’t force much and waits for plays to develop, a big part of his maturity on the floor.
– Fultz didn’t have many problems carrying the load for Washington every night, often being hounded by multiple defenders. Fultz scored a career-high 37 points in an 85-83 overtime win over Colorado on January 18, helping erase a 17-point halftime deficit. He finished with 20 or more points on 18 occasions for Washington, tied for third all-time in the school’s history.
– While his nightly numbers were impressive, they were even better when you average them out over 40 minutes. Fultz averaged 25 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists per-40, the highest PER of any freshman in 2017.
– It’s rare that players ever live up to their pre-draft comparisons, but Fultz is drawing comps to MVP candidate James Harden and Lakers star guard D’Angelo Russell at the NBA level.
– Fultz wants to be the first overall pick and has made it clear on a number of occasions that he is excited at the idea of sharing a backcourt with Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas.
-Fultz couldn’t do much to make his team better, as Washington finished just 9-22. He lost six straight and nine of his last 10 games before an injury ended his college career early.
All that losing has led to some questions about Fultz’s leadership, a criticism that was recently dismissed by Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge.
“Impacting winning takes more than one player,” Ainge recently told The Boston Herald.
Christian Caple from the Tacoma News-Tribune recently joined WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Adam Kaufman to discuss Fultz, and had nothing but great things to say about the kid’s impact off of the floor.
– Fultz missed six of his last eight games with a sore right knee.
He wasn’t playing, but Fultz was still able to hit a shot from the stands during pregame shootaround:
– The biggest knock on Fultz’s offense is somewhat baffling, as he wasn’t a great free throw shooter at just 65 percent from the charity stripe. It’s something that should improve, but a part of his game that he’ll have to focus on at the next level.
– Fultz sometimes settles for tough jumpers or mid-range shots, which can be problematic for the occasionally streaky shooter.
– He’s a bit turnover prone when he tries to get a little too fancy with the ball.
– While he’s being touted as a player with high upside on defense (he had a knack for coming up with timely steals that led to fastbreak chances), Fultz is still very much a 19-year-old on that end of the floor. He’s been knocked for not battling through screens and sometimes loses his man off the ball, leading to easy buckets for the opposition.
Like most Celtics fans, you probably didn’t get a chance to see much of Fultz, who was playing his games while most of the east coast was asleep. Luckily, there is YouTube and plenty of users with a lot of free time on their hands.
Fultz Scores 30 Points In Washington Debut:
Fultz Double-Double Vs. Gonzaga:
Fultz’s 30-Point Game Vs. Utah:
Fultz Drops 37 Points On Colorado:
Full Season Highlights: