Malik Fitts – An International scouting Report by Alex Brown

Malik Fitts Scouting Report

By: Alex Brown @AhbAnalytics


Player Profile

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Age: 23 Years, July 4th, 1997.

Measurements: 6’8, 230 lbs, wingspan N/A (though certainly a plus).

Agent: Charles Briscoe | Briscoe Sports Group

Injury Report: Nothing major or worth noting.

Athleticism: Fitts is a pretty solid athlete. His ability to play agile is notable for his size, as he is comfortable changing directions despite his below average lateral quickness. While rather rare, he has flashed an effective euro-step and spin move when slashing. In space, he can really throw down some strong above the rim finishes. His burst is rather average, but serviceable considering his shooting gravity and potential role. He has a strong frame as well.

Projected Role: Off Ball Combo Forward (both ends) – Overseas Scorer

Projected Draft Landing: Late Second Round – Undrafted

Statistical Profile:

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creen Shot 2020-08-05 at 10.11.03 PM Via Barttorvik

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Career Projections:

  • High: Low Usage NBA Off Ball Forward – Bottom Rotation | Two Way, Eventual Overseas.
    • Offensively, I see Fitts as a guy that you can spot up on the perimeter, run P&P actions, and attack closeouts occasionally. I want him off the ball much more than he was at Saint Mary’s. While he will flash low tier self creation, I don’t want to bring him on an NBA team for that. If Fitts sticks in an offensive scheme, it will be as a guy that can consistently bury spot up 3’s and use his gravity and tools to attack closeouts. Can he mold his tools to suit that instead of being a creator? Defensively, he doesn’t do much in POA but is maskable off the ball. Regardless, I do not think he has enough value to stick in the NBA for his entire career.
  • Medium: Mid Rotation Scoring Forward – Mid-High Tier Overseas (After Two-Way Deal)
    • The most realistic scenario for Fitts would be to end up in a high tier international league in a high rotation (and spot starter) role where he could play both forward spots to stretch the floor and attack mismatches. He would be able to attack in his Saint Mary’s style more in this setting, and perhaps this is what is best for Fitts. His defense could be far more viable in this setting comparatively, providing some POA value and passable off-ball.
  • Low: Middle of Rotation Scoring Forward – Two-Way/G-League – Eventual Mid-Tier Overseas
    • Fitts may not adapt his style to suit what NBA teams would want from him. If he wants to be ‘the guy’, overseas or the g-league would be his landing spots. He could better utilize his lower tier creation focus and provide value as a streaky wing shooter. Defense has its flashes but doesn’t provide notable winning value.

Offense

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Strengths

  • Spot-up Shooting Execution: While Malik’s form has been quite inconsistent, there is no denying that he was able to stretch the floor well by burying nearly two 3’s per game on 40.8% shooting (career 149/380, 39.2%). At 6’8, being able to put him out on the wings or corners is valuable. He can pick and pop effectively as well, and has a good sense for quick relocations in these actions. Furthermore, he shoots it at a rather high percentage while contested, thus amplifying his shooting gravity.
    • Leveraging Closeout Gravity: Wings typically have to play Fitts rather tightly, and this can lead to chances to exploit tight closeouts. Luckily, Fitts has a decent enough handle & strong enough burst to really work here. This can lead to a 6’8, 230-pound man getting downhill, which is no fun to get in front of. If Fitts can become a better finisher overall and play to his strengths, he could be a really tough C&D weapon.

  • Finishing Flashes: While Fitts was not a great finisher by the numbers, he did flash some impressive finishing. His body control in the air and ability to change directions at 230lbs made him a tough guy to stop when he was under control. Keeping him under control will be vital to his execution and development. I liked what I saw when he got to his euro-step, jump stop package, and spin move.
  • Transition Offense Flashes: Fitts looked pretty solid in transition, where his handle at 6’8 230 really paid dividends. While his PPP was not strong at all, I think he has the right tools to be a successful transition threat should he get under control more often.

Improvement Areas

  • 3pt Shooting Consistency: If there weren’t such a large sample of Fitts knocking down 149 3’s, I would be quite worried about his shot. He is quite streaky, with (this year) 16 games shooting ≤ 28.6% and 16 games shooting ≥ 40%. The form varies from game to game.
    • Form: This is where things get interesting with Fitts. He is by no means a pure shooter, as his shot can be all over the place while being INCREDIBLY mechanical & manufactured. It does not look natural at all, as his base, follow through, and release point varies from shot to shot. The one consistent aspect is a high, frontal release with hard touch and high wrist volatility. His missed shots have no trend either, as they can, once again, be all over the place. While NBA teams may feel optimistic about his numbers on paper, he will be a work in progress if you want a guy who you can consistently rely on to produce from range.
    • Movement Shooting: Fitts is not a guy that I would want shooting off movement or off the dribble. Off movement, his shot can really fall apart and has a notable lack of balance and touch. Off the dribble, he can occasionally create for himself and get to a little step back or pull-up. However, I wouldn’t be asking him to do that if I were an NBA team as it just just project as efficient offense.
      • He might be a really solid shooter some games, but others he won’t show up. I totally get seeing the percentage and jumping on his shot, but I don’t think it is as good (or likely to translate) as the numbers suggest. I think it is frankly amazing he has had such success at his volume.
  • Finishing Execution: Only shooting 56.8% at the rim, Fitts could really stand to improve as a finisher. He has moments where he can ‘wow’ you with his agility and power, and others where he just lacks the ability to get to that second level (so to speak) as a finisher. When he can, he looks great. When he can’t, it is not that pretty. He can also be a bit overzealous regarding his ability to finish over (or posterize) defenders, but I respect the energy.
  • Next Level Self-Creation: While he is a guy that can attack closeouts and mismatches, I don’t think Fitts should be asked to create for a team. The tunnel vision he deals with paired with his propensity to be incredibly streaky & lack of an elite skill makes me want to put the ball elsewhere and focus on his off ball development. He will create at a lower usage, which can be fine, but is not a value maximizing playtype.
  • Passing | Tunnel Vision: Too often the ball dies in Malik’s hands. He has notable tunnel vision for scoring, causing him to miss wide-open shooters in favor of tough drives. He tries to create shots that just aren’t there or efficient. This is a worrying aspect of his game that adds on to the incentive to limit Fitts to an off-ball role. His career 7.5% assist percentage (compared to his 12.1% turnover rate) is not too surprising. In an off ball wing/forward, teams will want a guy who can move the ball if his shot isn’t there. Fitts needs to work at becoming that guy, because he will not be creating if he wants to be an NBA player.

creen Shot 2020-08-05 at 10.08.53 PM Fitts faired best in a lower-mid usage role. His streakiness is further exemplified by the volatility here. (via Barttorvik)


Defense

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Strengths

  • Defensive Rebounding: Fitts makes an effort on the glass on both ends. On the defensive end, he put up a very strong 23.1% DRB. While this may be attributed to rebound hunting, he did execute.
  • Passable Off-Ball Playmaking Instincts: While Fitts was not a superb off ball defender, he had some impressive proactive reads that led to him making some strong defensive plays. He is quick to grab loose balls in his area and has quite active hands compared to his interior play. He loves to grab and go when he can, so he hunts to capitalize on these opportunities off of loose balls and rebounds. This is encouraging, as Fitts seems to be more maskable defensively than some other combo forwards.

Improvement Areas

  • Perimeter Containment: Slashers should struggle much more than they currently do against Fitts. Despite his size and physical tools, he struggles to contain slashing wings on the perimeter. By the time the offensive player makes his first step, Fitts is almost always already in recovery mode playing downhill. His closeouts can be all over the place and out of position, and his initial step after closing is slow. Fundamentals and footwork reworking should be in order if Fitts wants to provide defensive value on the wing.
    • Finishing Plays: When slashers get near the rim, Fitts has an odd tendency to not finish the play or body up, but instead get ready for a rebound. It is almost as if he expects them to miss without him making a play. This can lead to teammates having to help, leaving open dump downs available. In short, Fitts is going to give up a lot of drives to the rim right now and not recover effectively.
  • Interior Defense: While Fitts can occasionally make a play as a rotating rim protector, he does not have much value on the interior. He does not always finish plays, contest shots effectively, or box out. I do not see a way where he won’t get taken to school by experienced post operators. He either just stayed stagnant with his hands up or got too handsy and fouled. Not much to work with here other than his physical traits.
  • Impact: For a 6’8, 230 pound forward, Fitts was not much of a positive defensively. His career +1.0 DBPM and low steal and block rates do not aid in him projecting as a positive defender.

Overall Outlook

Malik Fitts is an interesting case for a 23 year old combo forward with his tools. His self creation is not strong enough to bet on while being his focus, and his off ball game is incredibly streaky. Essentially, teams will want to take the best of what he does and make that his focus. It definitely is not his creation package, but rather his streaky shooting execution and closeout attacks. However, if Malik’s most useful (realistic) NBA offensive role is slightly higher usage Semi Ojeleye that doesn’t provide much on-ball defensive value and decent off-ball play, I am not sure I would pull the trigger on Fitts in the draft. I think you take a shot in UDFA at making him a consistent threat off the ball and sticking him off ball defensively while building his body and feel, and if that doesn’t work he could be a solid pickup for a good overseas league where he can play his game a bit easier.

Major Swing Factors: Shooting Consistency (can he keep this up and contribute every night in a low usage role?), Downhill Handle (can teams unlock his ability to get to that second level of finishing more often?), Playmaking (can he not kill ball movement and accept a low usage role?) All Around Defense (If he can’t provide winning value there, why have him on an NBA roster?).

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