Markus Howard is a 5’11” junior lead guard for the Marquette Golden Eagles. Howard is one of the most explosive scorers in the nation, routinely scoring in the 30’s and 40’s. He is one of the most dynamic off-the-dribble shooting threats among 2019 draft eligible prospects, and despite being the focal point of the opposition’s scouting and defensive schematics, continues to torch team after team. The Howard-led Golden Eagles find themselves just outside the top ten in the most recent AP Poll, and are very much in contention for a top 3 NCAA tournament seed. If Howard can continue his scoring run and carry his team to wins throughout postseason play, he has a chance to be a viable 2019 NBA Draft candidate as a potential early entrant.
Tale of the Tape
Markus Howard has been a 40+% high-volume three-point shooter in each of his three collegiate seasons. He is converting at a 43.8% clip on 8.3 attempts per game as a junior. Howard gets these looks from deep in transition, in the context of Marquette’s offense, and via self-creation.
Howard’s lack of height and length hinders his ability to simply rise up over defenders and get clean looks, and he is forced to create separation by getting the defense on their heels with deceptive dribble moves, change of direction, and step-backs. For most undersized college guards, prefacing a three-point attempt with this off-the-dribble action can lead to wild, inefficient attempts, but Howard has truly mastered the art form of shot versatility via off-the-dribble self-creation.
As an off-the-dribble shooter, Howard ranks in the 93rd percentile, converting at a rate of 1.145 PPP on very high volume (165 attempts). Having the off-the-dribble three in his offensive arsenal at the next level will be crucial to his offensive value both from an individual efficiency perspective and from the spacing benefit derived from his gravitational pull as a shooting threat.
Over the course of this NBA season, we have seen James Harden and Luka Dončić’s step-back three-point shooting prowess on full display. Their threats as drivers and gifted footwork allow them to create space with the step-back and knock down threes. Though certainly not nearly as gifted as Harden or Dončić and not having their size or paint finishing prowess, Howard has proven to be a highly capable self-creator as an off-the-dribble shooter from deep.
In the clip below, we highlight Howard’s ability to create space via step-backs and convert from beyond the arc.
As noted within the ‘Improvement Areas’ within the ‘Prospect Profile’ graphic above, Howard would greatly benefit from improving as a finisher in the paint. This would not only increase his overall offensive efficiency/versatility, but would make his pull-up/step-back game even more lethal, as the defender would have to take him more seriously as a driving threat.
As an undersized guard, it is essential to have a functional set of dribble moves to create for oneself and for others. Howard has natural shake and handle, and has shown a variety of moves that create separation for jumpers, drive-and-kicks, etc. One of his most effective moves as a lead ball-handler is his double crossover.
Howard’s pull-up shooting threat from NBA three-point range forces defenders to crowd him shortly after crossing half court. With his man selling out to prevent him from pulling up from three, Howard already has a balance/momentum advantage as a potential driving threat. His natural shake gets the defense shifting on his first horizontal move and as soon as he feels the defender’s momentum moving strongly in that direction, he shifts back with a second crossover and attacks the defender’s hip, with little to no wasted steps, motion, or dribbles.
When Howard gets bigs switched onto him in pick-and-roll scenarios, he consistently takes advantage of the mismatch. Howard counters their attempts to use their length to run him off the line by using his quickness advantage and handling package to blow by the helpless big man.
This double crossover has served Howard well at Marquette, and will likely have functional use at the professional level. His perpetual pull-up shooting threat makes it difficult for defenders to stay disciplined throughout the duration of his multi-move handling actions.
In the clip below, we highlight Howard’s ability to shake defenders with his double cross move.
Howard will have a difficult decision to make this offseason. He has improved his draft stock by stringing together a consistent run of impressive performances throughout his junior season, showing improvement in some of his areas of weakness. While some front offices will likely be skeptical due to the size/athleticism concerns, the style and rules of the modern NBA are conducive to Howard’s game. He has the potential to pack a viable scoring punch as a microwave scoring lead guard off the bench. We expect Howard to, at least, test the NBA Draft waters and, dependent on his feedback from scouts and NBA executives, very well may stay in the 2019 NBA Draft pool and have a chance to be drafted in the latter half of the 2nd round. If he returns to school, he'll be a likely National Player of the Year candidate and Marquette will be among the Big East favorites with a chance at another strong NCAA tournament run.
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