Despite a college career at both Little Rock and Kansas State that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has NBA talent, Markquis Nowell did not hear his name called in the 2023 NBA Draft. Luckily, the Toronto Raptors signed him almost immediately after the draft ended.
Any discussion of Nowell is going to mention the fact that Nowell is generously listed at 5-8 and 170 pounds. Very few players of that size have ever played in the NBA, let alone forged a sustained career. Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb don’t come along that often.
Nowell looked like a player who could end up carving out a role with the Raptors during his Summer League stint, as he was making some otherworldy passes and forcing some turnovers. He also showed a fiery spirit that was not going to be deterred by going to the basket.
Why can’t the team that helped turn Fred VanVleet into one of the greatest undrafted players in NBA history find another success story with Nowell? It’s hard to find a player of any size that has the ultra-confident Nowell’s level of determination, grit, and ability to make plays in the clutch.
Toronto Raptors 21 in 21: Will Markquis Nowell overcome his size?
Stats (College): 17.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 8.3 APG, 2.6 SPG, 39% FG, 35.5% 3PT
Nowell’s value to the Raptors lies almost entirely in his ability to create turnovers on the defensive end and turn them into buckets on the other end with timely passes. Nowell will likely start his career in the G League, and he should challenge for the league lead in assists.
Nowell has competition to earn playing time in Toronto, as he will need to show that he is a better offensive player than Malachi Flynn and as much of a disruptor as Jeff Dowtin was last year. The odds are long, but you don’t get this far at 5-8 and 160 pounds without having overcome these doubts before.
Best Case Scenario for Markquis Nowell in 2023
Nowell fixes his biggest flaw as a player. Nowell shot well under 40% from the field throughout five collegiate seasons, which is the byproduct of a player his size trying to find an opening in the lane amid a forest of redwoods. The efficiency could tick upward.
Nowell will never be an amazing on-ball defender due to his size, but the steals numbers should remain very high due to his high basketball IQ and nonstop motor. If he keeps that up, both Flynn and Dowtin will yield to his superior talent, no matter how tall he is.
Worst Case Scenario for Markquis Nowell in 2023
Nowell starts to get banged up, as his body can’t take the punishment of a full NFL season. The efficiency concerns, exacerbated by a general inability to get to the rim against NBA athletes, weigh on him like an anchor as he gets mired in the lower levels of the G League.