Being selected with the first pick in the NBA draft comes with a set of expectations. Not only are you supposed to lead your new team to more wins and postseason glory, but you’re also expected to be the face of the franchise; a visual representation of the city and team.
INSTEAD OF FULTZ, WHAT IF CELTICS DRAFT . . .
This could be an issue for two of the top prospects in this year’s draft class, Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, as they don’t necessarily “look the part” of a franchise changer.
Standing at 6-4 with a 6-9 wingspan, Markelle Fultz has the measurements and tools of an NBA All-Star point guard. Production wasn’t an issue this season either, as he averaged the most points per game (23.2) for a freshman since Michael Beasley in 2007-08.
So what’s the hang-up? Well, his face, to be honest. Fultz’s neutral expression often looks lackadaisical or disinterested (to be clear, this is not a criticism of his character. By all accounts Fultz is a humble, hard-working kid who wants to win NBA championships). His listless facial expression is easily misinterpreted when combined with his style of play.
Although he will dunk in your eye, Fultz is more of a sneaky athlete than an explosive one. His ability to change speeds and manipulate his defender is what makes him such an intriguing prospect. Rather than rock the rim with an angry thunder dunk like Russell Westbrook or pre-injury Derrick Rose, he rocks you to sleep with a devastating hesitation or a smooth, half-spin pull-up like the one below.
So if/when Fultz puts on a Celtics uniform next season, remember this: Just because he makes it look easy, doesn’t mean he’s not trying.
A lot of what Lonzo Ball does on the court is aesthetically pleasing. His passing in transition, off-ball cuts and alley-oop finishes are made for the highlight reel. His jump shot; however, is the opposite.
Watching Ball shoot the basketball is the visual equivalent of listening to his dad speak…it’s outrageous and offensive but I can’t help myself. His mechanics remind me more of my 5-year-old daughter’s (although he at least looks at the hoop when shooting) than a future NBA All-Star.
While the optics of his shot make it hard to envision him succeeding at the next level, Ball’s absurd efficiency should quell those concerns. His 66.8 percent effective field goal percentage was sixth in the nation last season, and that includes an impressive 41.2 percent from distance. Bottom line: this kid can shoot.
So, remember Celtics fans, if the Green come away with Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball on Thursday, don’t let your eyes deceive you. As is the case with the 5-9 Isaiah Thomas and awkward but surprisingly effective driver Kelly Olynyk, productive NBA players come in all shapes and sizes. Facial expressions and funky shot mechanics don’t matter if you’re winning basketball games.