Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz are up against history

Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz by almost nearly every major NBA Draft pundit, analyst, or even Twitter NBA Draft are the top 2 picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. They shot a tremendous 41% from 3 point land as freshman. They also had the dubious act of shooting below 70% from the charity stripe. So that begs the question, how well have similar players (if there are any) transitioned to the NBA who shot a fairly high volume of three pointers while having those same shooting percentages respectively from three and the charity stripe.

In looking through NBA and NCAA data I was able to find 732 players for a given set of conditions.

I decided to try to find if a player was purposely shooting three pointers and trying to find players who probably were fairly talented as I stratified the number of minimum attempts required by a freshman on through a senior year.

For “one and done” players, aka Freshman, they were required to have attempted 100 3 point fields. Sophomores were required to shoot 125, Juniors 175, and Seniors, by the time they went to NBA la la land would have need to have fired off 250.

Here’s the analysis.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 7.09.11 PM


If that isn’t clear or can’t be enlarged, a link to the same image can be found here.

There have been 11 such players who met my criteria out of the 732. None of them has ever matched their 3PT FG% from college. Mookie Blaylock came the closest at just 4.3% off his college mark of 37.9%. The average decrease was 8.9%. That would mean Ball and Fultz would fall around 32% if they followed the average. If they were the exceptions, they’d likely be closer to what Blaylock did and only 4.3% off their college marks, leaving them in the 36% range.

While this means it’s never been matched. But how ‘low’ off of that 41% mark they attained in college would make them viable NBA players? Given that Fultz can score on multiple levels, shooting 33% might not be so bad. But for Ball, would 33% make him a viable NBA starter?



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2 Responses to Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz are up against history

  1. DaQ says:

    jgoldstein34 from APBR pointed out that Lonzo shot 80% on FT’s his senior year of high school. Do you think this data is relevant two years later? Is it possible he just regressed while at UCLA or do you think some external factor was keeping him down? An initial glance at basketball-reference seems to indicate there are no overt trends with his poor up-and-down shooting. Whether he was at home, on a neutral site, away; non-conference play vs conference play; he was just consistently bad.

    • pauldevos7 says:

      Good point out on the HS stats – I, for some reason, had thought they were lower (found em here: http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/lonzo-ball/Xoz-LfTvEeKZ5AAmVebBJg/gendersport/basketball-stats.htm). Looking at it, it’s a bigger sample size than college.

      Good research on the home, neutral, away for any trends. As Kevin O’Connor explored, with the 3-pt shot, there was some big differences or trends by ball type. src: https://theringer.com/lonzo-ball-ucla-shooting-mechanics-6eeda2ef3e41

      For what I read, he’s the most polarizing player in the draft. 2nd would be Markkanen. No one compares Fultz to even James Harden or “___” player who is really good, but Ball’s comps by many are only top 50 players ever (Nash, Kidd, Stockton, Curry). I don’t see much to any of them to be honest. For Markkanen, it’s Dirk. Dirk to me was way more athletic, agile, and better off the dribble in addition to a much more developed “killer” instinct. To me, some players have to be a little ‘off’ in terms of obsession. KG, Towns, Jordan, Kobe, Magic, Bird, even Harden — they almost take things a little too personal. Fultz, Dennis Smith, and to a degree, Markkanen, seem more casual than what success usually comes to. Ben Simmons would be another. We didn’t get to see what he would be tho.

      On Simmons, I don’t know if you saw this Reddit post: https://www.reddit.com/r/nba/comments/63ufxe/since_the_draft_ben_simmons_has_supposedly_grown/

      What’s your take on Ball? Where do you see his career projection 2, 3, 5 years in.

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