UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Washington’s Markelle Fultz are already being linked together in anticipation of the 2017 NBA Draft. Unless something changes, the two point guards will be linked for the rest of their careers.
The two players were slated to square off for a second time this college basketball season, but Fultz’s knee kept him on the sidelines for the March 1 contest.
Fultz and Ball played on February 4 where UCLA came away with a dominant 107-66 victory. Fultz had 25 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in the game. Ball put up similar numbers finishing the game with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals. Both players shot well from behind the 3-point line. Fultz went 5-of-10 while Ball was 4-of-7 from behind the arc.
It is difficult to compare the two players given they have vastly different supporting casts. UCLA is one of the best teams in college basketball with several players considered as potential first round picks. Washington is at the bottom of the Pac-12.
The two players play the same position but have different games. Ball is being compared to Jason Kidd. Whether Ball reaches that level remains to be seen, but the bigger point is his ability to create opportunities for his teammates.
Ball is averaging 14.8 points, 7.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds this season. While passing may be his strength, Ball is more than capable of scoring. Despite an unorthodox shot, Ball is a much better shooter than Kidd was coming out of college. He is shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 41.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. Ball can shoot the ball from deep when he heats up.
Fultz is more of a pure scorer. He is averaging 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season. Fultz is shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the arc. While not to Ball’s level, Fultz has solid court vision and has no problem getting his teammates involved. His assists numbers would likely be higher on a better team.
He could also slide over to shooting guard in certain situations giving an NBA team some flexibility. Ball is more of a pure point guard who’s primary skills do no translate as well at the two.
Which player goes first in the NBA Draft could depend on who has the top selection. A team with a core group of established players may opt for Ball’s pass-first mentality. If a team is in need of a go-to scorer, they could favor Fultz.
With the NBA Draft on June 23, do not expect this debate to go away any time soon. Chime in with your opinion in our poll.
Here’s a look at the best high school highlights of the point guards: