Markus Howard was one of the best players in college basketball last season and is a two time All American. He has a somewhat narrow skill set, but that skill is one of the most valuable traits in the league right now and makes him a viable second round target.
Weight: 175 pounds
Strengths: Outside shooting, scoring ability
Markus Howard is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen. In his freshman season, when he was not Marquette’s focal point, he converted 54.7% of his 150 3-point attempts. In his final three seasons, he converted 40.6% of his triples while attempting nearly nine a game, and that’s with arguably the most difficult shot profile in the country.
Howard can hit shots out of any situation. He’s deadly in spot up situations, coming off screens, and off the dribble. His outside shooting bends defenses at the college level much like we see Stephen Curry’s do in the NBA. He became notorious for rapid bursts of hot shooting that would completely change the complexions of games.
His outside shooting opens up other offense for both himself and his teammates, but mostly himself. While not an exceptionally efficient player inside the arc (43.6% 2P% over his last two seasons) he has good bag of tricks for creating openings. He’s a crafty ball handler and gets to the free throw line at a very high rate despite frequently stopping short of the rim to pop up floaters.
In totality, Howard’s offensive production in college was extraordinary. He topped 50 points in a game three times and scored at least 40 on another four occasions throughout his college career. Few players possess Howard’s ability to single handedly take over a game with their scoring ability.
Question marks: Size, defense, playmaking for others
Howard’s size is a pretty big red flag, especially when paired with how little an impact he made on the defensive end of the floor in college. He’s very short by NBA standards, coming in under six feet in shoes, and doesn’t have the wingspan to make up for it. That’ll hamper him when trying to guard and finish around the much longer and more athletic players in the NBA.
Howard was a complete non-factor defensively for Marquette. That’s partly understandable given his offensive workload, but you’d like to see a player with his savvy make a few more plays on that end. He blocked six shots across 3,853 career minutes and never averaged more than 1.1 steals per game in any of his four collegiate seasons. His career defensive box plus-minus is +0.3. To put into perspective how bad that is, Trae Young (who was possibly the worst defender in the NBA last season) had a +1.3 DBPM in his lone season at Oklahoma.
Despite being a ball dominant player for much of his time with the Golden Eagles, Howard did not generate a lot of points for his teammates. Part of that can be blamed on supporting cast, but we’ve seen other prospects do much more with less. Howard barely topped a 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the course of his career, and that won’t fly as a 5’11” guard in the NBA.
Markus Howard has a short list of NBA skills, but it’s one of the most coveted skills in the league today. He’d immediately be one of the most dangerous outside shooters in the league, but questions about his defense and the rest of his offensive game could make it hard for him to find court time.
The Hornets are shallow at the point guard spot with the emergence of Devonte’ Graham as a starter and the revelation that Terry Rozier works best with another ball handler on the court with him. Howard wouldn’t fit the mold of a prototypical bench point guard, but he has the potential to be an explosive spark off the bench.