The name of the game in the modern NBA is shooting. And few people in college basketball shoot the ball better than Marquette’s Markus Howard. Looking at Howard’s game log feels like you’re reading the stats of a video game character – Howard shoots early and often, averaging 27.8 points per game this past season. It was a career high and his third consecutive year averaging over 20, and the Marquette star graduated as the all-time Big East scoring leader, ending his career on a string of five consecutive 30 point games. Howard drew some criticism due to his role with Marquette, which often involved him taking high volumes of shots. When he was hot, Marquette could hang with anybody, but if he was cold, the Golden Eagles frequently struggled.
Everyone knew Howard could shoot coming into the year, but he wasted no time in reminding viewers, dropping 40 and 51 points in two games at the Orlando Invitational, leading Marquette to a 3-0 record at the tournament. Howard displayed his ability to grind out wins when his shot wasn’t on in an early conference victory against #10 Villanova; despite shooting just 3-12 from beyond the arc, Howard dropped 29 points, closing out a 71-60 victory on the strength of a 12-12 effort from the free throw line. In a pivotal road game at Georgetown, Howard torched the Hoyas for 42 points in an 84-80 triumph.
Wherever Howard ends up playing at the next level, he won’t have to be the go-to guy anymore, which may allow him to utilize his spectacular, if sometimes streaky, deep shooting to his advantage. As 35-foot three-pointers become almost commonplace in the NBA, Howard’s ability to pull up from virtually anywhere on the court will be a great asset for whoever secures his services. Howard shot 42% from three, and it feels like he could be a valuable sparkplug off the bench early in his career, with the potential to develop into a starter if his shot becomes a little more consistent, and his play a little more efficient.
Prediction: Round 2, Pick 57, Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley is a 31-year old point guard for the Clippers, and he’s a defensive stalwart that could help mentor Howard on that side of the floor. Meanwhile, Howard has an NBA-ready shot, and he could fill minutes for Los Angeles as they implement their load management tactics with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.