In preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 NBA season, teams have been filling their rosters with talent, including two-way players. With the Denver Nuggets signing former Marquette standout, Markus Howard.
Howard had a golden career at the collegiate level. Leading the nation in scoring in the 2019-20 season and solidifying himself as Marquette’s all-time leading scorer. Which earned him an NBA opportunity with the Nuggets on a two-way contract.
Players signed to a two-way deal spend the majority of the season in the G League. Normally two-way players are eligible to be called up to their parent team in the NBA for a maximum of 45 days per season.
With the 2020-21 season being shortened, two-way players can be active for up to 50 of the NBA’s 72-game schedule. Travel days and practices will not be included, as they have previously.
Perry High School/Findley Prep:
5-foot-11 Howard started out at Perry High School in Gilbert, Arizona. Averaging 23 points as a freshman, alongside his brother in the backcourt. Following a stellar opening campaign, he received and accepted a college offer from Arizona State.
As a sophomore, his scoring averages bumped up significantly to 32.4 points. This led to Howard decommiting from Arizona State, thus reopening his college recruitment.
Ahead of his junior season, Howard transferred to Findley Prep in Henderson, Nevada. The same institution that produced the likes of Tristan Thompson, Christian Wood, Kelly Oubre Jr, Bol Bol, and many others.
In his debut season with Findley, Howard led the team in scoring. Upon the conclusion of the season, he opted to reclassify to the class of 2016, after graduating high-school in 3 years. A commitment to Marquette University followed.
Making History With Marquette:
A reputation was starting to build. That was further strengthened by leading the nation in 3-point shooting (54.7%) as a freshman with Marquette. Earning him a selection into the 2017 Big East Conference All-Freshman team. On the season he averaged 13.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.
Howard’s scoring averages jumped to 20.4 points in his sophomore season, as he was named to the All-Big East Second Team. Even though his 3-point shooting percentage dropped, it still sat at an impressive 40.4%. Furthermore, his 93.8% free-throw percentage was the 2nd-highest in the NCAA.
As a junior with Marquette, he averaged 25 points, 4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per contest. On 42% shooting from the field, 40.3% from beyond the arc. He had two 45-point games against Kansas State and Buffalo. Against Creighton on January 9, 2019, Howard broke the Big East single-game scoring record. As he dropped 53 points in an overtime victory.
In the season opener of his senior season, Howard became Marquette’s all-time leading scorer. He eventually became the Big East’s all-time leading scorer in league games also. Howard broke many scoring records in his senior year, as he led the nation in scoring (27.8 PPG).
His performances earned him First Team All-Big East honors, after averaging 27.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists (42% FG, 41.2% 3P). Through his 4-years at Marquette, he shot 42.7% from 3-point land.
Despite a historic college career, Howard fell undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft. But was picked up hours after the conclusion, by the Denver Nuggets. Who signed the Marquette sharpshooter to a two-way contract.
The Nuggets don’t have a G League affiliate. However, through the league’s flexible assignment system, they can assign Howard to any G League team. Upon that team accepting him.
Markus Howard’s ability as a scorer is unquestionable. He’s an elite shooter that can handle the ball, but can also operate off-the-ball, finding open looks. While a large bulk of his scoring comes from 3, he does possess the ability to work in the mid-range and convert at the rim.
The major question mark comes with Howard’s size (5-foot-11). He enters the NBA as an undersized guard, which creates concerns on the defensive end. Additionally, even though he was lights-out at college, how productive he can be against much bigger players in the professional ranks remains to be seen.
For a high-scorer, Howard only averaged 3.1 assists at Marquette (2016-20). Over the course of his collegiate career, he recorded 392 assists but had a high turnover rate of 380.
There is definitely upside with Howard, and the Nuggets signing him a two-way deal is most likely the correct move. After all, an undersized Tremont Waters (5-foot-11) won the G League Rookie of the Year in the 2019-20 season. Howard making a positive impression in the NBA/G League is entirely possible.
That, and even though he completed 4-years of college, he is still only 21-years-old. Due to graduating high-school early. He holds a ton of experience already, and time is on his side to develop further.
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