Myles Powell OR Markus Howard: Which is the Nation’s Best Pure Scoring Talent?

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Markus Howard (Marquette) and Myles Powell (Seton Hall) are the best scoring talents in the Big East conference and possibly the nation. Both returned to their respective programs this Summer, after testing the NBA Draft waters, and finished last season among the nation’s top 10 in scoring. However, which is the more pure scoring talent?

What Do the Stats Say?

Markus Howard has accomplished more on the national stage as a player. Last year he ranked 5th in PPG, 6th in total points, 6th in total points produced and 6th in points produced per game. However the Marquette guard’s shooting percentages have decreased in each season since arriving on campus. As an exceptional shooting threat, the decline in efficiency is largely attributed to the increasing reliance on Howard to produce and orchestrate the offense. This has led to forcing shots in certain situations.

His counterpart, Powell, finished 10th in total scoring last season and averaged almost 2 PPG less (23.1 to Howard’s 25.0) for the Pirates. Yet, Powell has managed to improve his overall shooting percentages each year in South Orange. Powell’s 44.7% from the field in 2018 bested Howard by 2.7%. Yet, this number was still lower than either of Howard’s prior 2 seasons for the Golden Eagles.

Defining Their Playing Styles

Using shot-chart data from The Stepien revealed key tendencies that differentiate how Powell and Howard approach the offensive end of the floor. Both players shoot the ball in the low-to-mid 40s, but the difference in their games occur when they are unable to shoot the 3-ball.

The three-point shot is a vital piece of Howard and Powell’s game, taking 38.87% and 41.09% of their shots respectively from that distance. However, Howard manages to compliment his shooting tendencies with an almost equally frequent shot from the mid-range. Powell’s physicality conversely allows him to drive completely to the rim where he attempted 30.97% of his attempts.

The contrasting styles rewarded Powell an extra trip to the free throw line in every game and paved the way for him to be highly effective inside the 3-point line. In each of his three seasons, he has managed to score at least 52% of his attempts when dribbling off of the perimeter. Over his career, Howard has proven to be roughly 5% less efficient inside the arc compared to Powell. Although, he has shown to be 7% more effective shooting the deep ball.

Who’s the Leader?

Given the tendencies and production of both players, it is a fine line choosing one or the other. Howard’s game is a little more balanced than Powell’s, but it’s the latter’s efficiency that is the trump card. Howard usage by Marquette was the 5th highest in the nation, 37.2%, compared to Powell’s 30.9% (49th highest). Defenses were able to play styles uniquely designed to stop Howard against Marquette than they were against Seton Hall.

Myles Powell’s ability to play through contact and finish at the rim makes him a much more reliable scoring option. Howard has difficulty finishing at the rim compared to his seemingly effortless ability to shoot over defenders at impossible angles. His 48.28% conversion at the hoop to Powell’s 63.90% is a shocking difference in reliability.

Howard’s ability to score equally well at all three levels cannot be ignored, but the overall conversion rate for Powell is ~5% higher (46.22% to 41.86%). The star Pirate’s continued improvement scoring the ball and overall track record over his three years gives him the edge in my opinion as the better scoring talent. It’s a large reason why Powell has been given more consideration at the NBA level than Howard.

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