Markelle Fultz’s early Most Improved Player case
Scorer or Sorcerer?
“Markelle Fultz can’t shoot 3’s.”
OK…this is kind of true, but all the other puzzle pieces are there for an elite offensive engine.
Fultz averaged 19.5 points per 36 minutes last season on 47.4/23.5/80.6 shooting splits.
Fultz has a gold badge for acrobatic finishing. Watching him blow by his man, fossilize big men and make tough finishes is nothing short of artful. The eye test is backed up even more strongly by the advanced numbers.
Fultz did not make it easy on himself in the half-court finishing in the secnd percentile (insane) of rim shot quality in the entire NBA. Surely this would result in poor finishing numbers, right?
Not so fast. he is a sorcerer finishing in the 92nd percentile in rim shot making, 96th percentile in contact finish rate and the 98th percentile of unassisted rim field goals made per 75 possessions per Basketball-Index.
Much of this was accomplished because Fultz converted on nearly 63-percent of his transition buckets and 50-percent out of pick and rolls. Fultz is a gifted finisher with rare, controlled explosiveness which got him selected No. 1 overall to begin with.
Fultz has never quite regained his shooting form or percentages that he dominated college basketball with, though his form has been looking smoother in recent Twitter clips.
Regardless, he is an excellent midrange shooter hitting 44.1-percent of his shots in the 15-19 foot range — 93.3-percent of these being self-created off the bounce per Second Spectrum.
These are extremely encouraging numbers. Paired with his impressive free throw percentage, there is a lot to like under the hood of Fultz’s shooting.
Obviously, the three-ball will be the key to unlocking superstardom for him. His unwillingness to attempt threes and the low clip by which he hit them will be a limiting factor for both his playmaking and scoring.
There is hope though. And Fultz is smart enough not to take shots he is not comfortable with. But he is not afraid to shoot when the time comes. Now it is just about creating reps and confidence.
It sounds like improvement is on the horizon.