Sham’s unnecessarily great big draft board: Point guards
June 22nd, 2011
(Listed in no order other than the order they were thought of.)
You’d look happy if you were about to go first overall, too.
Kyrie Irving – Irving is this draft’s most complete player, which is why he will inevitably be the first overall pick. His Duke career didn’t last very long – Irving played the first eight games of the campaign, before suffering a broken foot that would normally have led to a medical redshirt. However, be it due to “heart,” or an implicit acknowledgement that this was always going to be his only college season – or both – Irving came back ahead of schedule and made it back in time for the NCAA tournament.
Irving’s season averages are not overwhelmingly dominating – 17.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.5 turnovers and 1.5 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. They are certainly impressive, though, and none is more impressive than his sheer efficiency. Irving shot 53% from the field, 90% from the line and 46% from three point range, and while much of his time was spent against non-conference opposition, it was against some damn good non-conference opposition.
In the 11 games Irving played as a Dukie, only four games were cakewalks; Hampton, Colgate, Oregon, and Miami Ohio. The rest of his games came against Princeton (a tournament team, if not on the level of others), Butler, Michigan State, Michigan, Arizona, Marquette and Kansas State. This meant matchups against decent-to-good defenders such as Shawn Vanzant, Shelvin Mack, Jacob Pullen, Darius Morris, Kalin Lucas, Keith Appling, Doug Davis and Momo Jones, amongst others. And yet in those seven games, Irving averaged 19.4 points, 4,7 assists and 1.6 steals on 51% shooting.
A point guard with adequate size, good speed, a 70% true shooting percentage and a 36.2 PER ticks every box. Irving handles, run the offence, defends well, takes only good shots, sets up, creates, scores in the clutch, shoots, drives and leads. He is miles and miles ahead of the curve, even if average size and physical tools supposedly limit his upside. (And they haven’t for Chris Paul.) It matters not if he is better as a scorer than a passer – Irving reads the game like a point guard, and makes only good decisions. If there are any flaws, they have not been exposed yet.
But what will be exposed, allegedly, is Kyrie Irving exposed. Another year, another NBA genitals drama.
Brandon Knight – The second best guard in the draft, and quite possibly the third overall pick in it, has the upside of Jason Terry. For whatever reason, this is often assumed as a bad thing, despite the fact that Jason Terry just won a ring as the second or third best player on an NBA championship winning team, averages 16 and 5 for his career, and is amongst the all-time leaders in three point shooting. If Brandon Knight were to develop into anything like Jason Terry – specifically a Mavs-era Terry, but a Hawks-era Terry would do too – then what’s not to like?
Wouldn’t Jason Terry go third or fourth overall in this draft?
Kemba Walker – Walker was the best player on the team that one the national title. There’s an obvious endorsement. He started out the season on via in the Maui Invitation, proving to be the best scorer in the land. He then hit a bit of a wall when defences keyed in on him – Kemba was rather a one man show, but only because he had to be – before his young supporting cast improved sufficiently to the point where Kemba could begin to operate. And then he dominated again.
Walker started out at UConn as a passer, trying to set up guys such as Jerome Dyson and Stanley Robinson, overly deferential to players who weren’t as good of scorers as he was. But he went to to embrace the role of primary scorer, arguably the nation’s best. And while he did get a bit shot-happy at times, it’s all a part of the curve.
Moreso than perhaps anybody in the entire draft – even Kyrie Irving – Walker can create his own shot. Utilising step-backs, a tight handle, pump fakes and his blazing speed, Walker can either get to the basket, or create the space for the jumper. He has range, finishes around the basket well for a little guy, and didn’t forget how to find the open man. His size is a bit of an issue defensively, yet there as well, his speed and agility are a virtue, as are is good hands. And despite being such a huge role on the offence and such a focus for the opposing defence, Kemba was not at all turnover prone.
He could stand to be a slightly better and less streaky long range shooter, and may have to return to being more of a passer in the pros, but there’s a lot to like.
Jimmer Fredette – Jimmer’s most endearing quality is his ability to regularly hit 30 foot jump shots. Unless you’re not human, you surely recognise the attraction in 30 foot jump shots. 24 foot jumpers are boring and samey – when you’ve seen Ray Allen hit 2,300 of them, then you’ve seen them all. But 30 footers? Those are exciting. Those draw vowel sounds. People laugh when you hit those. Those are fun shots.
But the reason Jimmer regularly hits 30 footers is because he regularly takes 30 footers. And as much as we may wish to pin that on the otherwise sedentary BYU offence, the fact is that he just takes bad shots. The turnaround contested 20 footers with 25 seconds still on the clock are not Noah Hartsock’s fault.
Jimmer’s shot selection is really, really bad. Let’s call it like it is.
Apparently the LeBron James Skills Academy features a seminar on how to wear headbands like the King.
Iman Shumpert – Shumpert is one of the best guard defenders in this list, and he has the physical profile to bring this to the pro game. He has all the physical tools to do, and, it appears, more than enough interesting in being so.
After two and a half up and down years, Shumpert broke out once conference play started last season, highlighted by a near-quadruple double (22 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, 7 steals) in a win over Virginia Tech. Shumpert is one of the most athletic and strong players in the draft, at any position, and while he is a little short for the shooting guard position that he may end up destined for, his 6’4-6’5 frame is great for a point guard.
Offensively, Shumpert has always been thoroughly awkward – ball dominant and turnover prone, continuing to cast up jumpers despite being a bad shooter, having no strong feel for the game, taking bad shots and throwing the ball away. Nevertheless, this too showed good improvement last season, as Shumpert returned 17.3 points and 3.5 assists per game, cutting his TO’s to only 2.3 per game. He also finally cracked the 40% shooting mark, albeit at only 40.6%. What Shumpert’s offensive role will be at the next level – given that he hasn’t shown he can be a full time ball handler, nor a good enough shooter to play much off the ball – is unclear. But what is clear is that Shumpert’s defence will (or should) get him in. It’s not as if Mario West has needed an offensive role to make it, and West is grossly inferior to Shumpert.
Iman Shumpert fact: Iman Shumpert is not related to Preston Shumpert. Indeed, there are lots of people he is not related to.
Charles Jenkins – Hofstra’s best player since Norm Richardson played his way into recognition by scoring a remarkably efficient 22.6 points per game last season, becoming the nation’s active scoring leader. He shot from deep range, mid range, use his strength around the basket, score din the pick-and-roll, half court, and in transition, eventually finishing with percentages of 52%/42%/82%. Even when his team were being blown out by 44 points by UNC in non-conference play, Jenkins managed to look as impressive as anybody could in a 44 point loss. It is not established how well he can play the facilitating point guard role, simply because he hasn’t had to do it yet. If he can carry over the scoring talent to the NBA, he still might not have to do it.
Reggie Jackson – At as a sophomore at Boston College, Reggie Jackson dominated the ball rather a lot. Last year, though, he honed his point guard skills, developed a better understanding of when to go, when not to shoot, when not to dribble, and how to play off the ball, and was thus utilised more as a scorer in addition to his improved floor leadership. Given that he scored 18.2 points per game on percentages of 50.3%/79/6^/42.0%, while passing for 4.5 assists and turning it over only 2.5 times per game, that seems fine. Jackson has great size for the position and is extremely athletic, as evidenced by the following display of athleticism.
A point guard who stands 6’3 and moves like that should contribute more on the defensive end than just rebounding, and Jackson doesn’t. But he demonstrated in his improvements to date that he has the ability to learn. And even if he doesn’t, how any point guards really play defence in the NBA? Seven?
Julyan Stone – Allegedly, Juylan Stone has a promise from the Lakers with one of their four second-round picks.
[Draft promises are a strange thing. Saying you’re likely to pick someone if they’re there is one thing, but don’t make a word which risks you either alienating people and hurting your reputation if you break it, or costing you a better player if things don’t pan out the way you plan. Draft promises result in moves such as picking DeMarre Carroll over DeJuan Blair (if honoured), or the whole Efthimios Rentzias debacle (if broken). Doesn’t seem like a risk ever worth taking.]
Whether the promise is true or not, a combination of a miserable draft, a strong senior season and an incredibly unique statline has put Stone into contention. On the year, Stone averaged 8.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game as a 6’7 point guard, further recording only 1.9 turnovers in 36.5 minutes per game for a 2.8 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was also named to the Conference USA All-Defensive team; faster than someone like the comparable Cedric Bozeman, Stone’s athleticism and size combination is pretty smothering, and his averages of 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks per game lend credence to that. Offensively, Stone is UTEP’s all time assist leader – magnanimous, pass-first, and high IQ, Stone is the consummate facilitator, deferential to a fault, keeping the ball moving, never one to take a bad shot, and a very capable ball handler.
His only problem is his own scoring. Stone can’t make open looks, at all. He hit 52 threes in four seasons, barely cracked 60% from the foul line for his career, did little off the dribble, recorded more assists than points on two occasions, and even recorded more rebounds than points on one occasion. That’s a pretty amazing statistic in a point guard. Stone became more aggressive and confident in his own scoring talent as an upperclassman, but at no point did he become in an average scoring threat by Conference USA. So while there may only be one flaw, it’s a huge one.
It might be worthwhile anyway, considering his otherwise strong all-around game.
(You know how else grabbed as many rebounds as they scored points in college? Dontell Jefferson. Dontell Jefferson made the NBA briefly. There are worse comparisons around, including in this post.)
Randy Culpepper – Culpepper was Stone’s backcourt teammate at UTEP, and he owes much of his success to him. Stone could defend the bigger guards, leaving the 6’0 Culpepper to defend the smaller guards. This was a blessing for Culpepper, who, despite his height, is an out and out scorer. A chucker, you might say. Culpepper is good at defending the point guards – extremely quick, athletic, interested, and with good hands. He’s also a good scorer, similarly unable to contain with his speed and athleticism, with a tight handle and good-enough perimeter shooting (which he would be well served to use less). But if he can in any way play point guard, he had hidden this fact for four years.
Culpepper might be the best dunker on this list, especially amongst the short guys.
Cory Joseph – Joseph shouldn’t really be here. He is this season’s you-probably-shouldn’t-have-declared point guard, and it’s not as if he’s riding the crest of momentum off the back of a deep tournament run, for Texas once again faded late. That said, he is not this year’s Tommy Mason-Griffin or Courtney Fortson, for he is at least a good player. Joseph is a smooth, versatile and talented corer, if unspectacular and undersized. Juan Dixon turned a similar skillset into some NBA years. But Juan Dixon had a hell of a lot more legacy in his favour.
Andrew Goudelock – Goldilocks is the all-time leading scorer of the College of Charleston, the place from whence NBA veteran Anthony Johnson once hailed. In his senior season there, he averaged 23.7 points, 4.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, shooting 46% from the field. Goudelock is a prodigious three point shooter – his 131 made three pointers last season ranked second in the nation, behind only Kevin Foster of Santa Clara, and ahead of both Fridette (third) and Jon Diebler (fourth). No one else got within 20 of his mark, and only 8 players hit more than 100. Gouldelock did rather enjoy the luxury of being a good player on an otherwise weak team, and certainly was given free license to score, but his ability to do so was also what made the weak team decent. The 2011 three point champion can’t do much other than shoot – he’s not fast, he’s not a good defender, and he’s little more than a basic point guard. But he can certainly shoot.
Jimmy Baron had a similar CV, but his draft class was a lot stronger.
Demetri McCamey – As a junior, Demetri McCamey really put it all together. Then as a senior, Demetri McCamey threw it all away. Dust-ups with the coach, public questioning of his leadership and sporadic effort saw McCamey underwhelm as a senior, as did the team he was supposed to leading to a deep tournament run.
In his final year, McCamey’s numbers were all down across the board, except for one – three point percentage. McCamey made himself into an elite, feared shooter as time went on, which, when combined with his passing vision, made for a very effective combination.
The rest of the game is lacking, however. McCamey is not fast, and thus cannot keep anybody in front of him defensively, a problem exacerbated by his apparent lack of desire in doing so. This lack of athleticism also hindered him around the basket, which he both struggled to finish at and struggled to get it. And this became particularly true as the jump shot improved, and he no longer needed to. McCamey really is a good half court point guard with some of the best passing skills and court awareness in the pool, but he was too limited and consistent to do much with it.
He is also not as strong as advertised. Strong, certainly, but he looks stronger than he is because of his lack of neck. And even if he is were to be strong, it’s not an advantage unless he does something with it.
Ben Hansbrough – Hansbrough has appeared on national and international TV about 140 times in the last five years, so there’s really not a lot to be said on the subject that hasn’t already been said. Just know that he is either the lefty Manu Ginobili, or the 2011 Gerry McNamara without the ring to show for it, depending on the favourability of your opinion.
In lieu of anything interesting to say about him, then, here is a video clip in which Bob Knight does an impression of a spooky Scooby Doo ghost after Hansbrough hits a three, for no discernible reason at all.
Diante Garrett – Another from the big point stable is Garrett, a legit 6’5 senior out of Iowa State. Garrett hasn’t exactly presided over the finest chunk of Cyclones history, yet the state of the weakened did at least give him the opportunity to become a featured scorer, and he did this by almost doubling his scoring average to 17.1 points per game last season. He also passed for 6.1 assists per game, tied for 11th with three players further down this list.
It wasn’t an efficient 17.1 points per game, however, as it took 518 shots for him to score those 551 points. Garrett can’t finish around the basket because he’s too thin, and this inability to take contact leads to an avoidance of contact, with only 80 free throws attempted in 1,175 minutes. Worse still, Garrett is not a good jump shooter; he has a decent pull-up mid range shot, but lacks for much three point range, and thus scored these points on only a 50% true shooting percentage.
Garrett, then, is best as a playmaker, where his size allows him to see over the defence and his speed gets him by it. He runs the pick-and-roll, moves it round, and keeps the turnovers to an acceptable level. He tries hard, has the physical profile, and has the statline. His future lies somewhere between that of Antonio Anderson, Nick Calathes and Greivis Vasquez. So that’s either a starting role on the EuroLeague champion, a role as a key bench contributor on an upstart Western Conference semi-finals team, or a bench role in the D-League followed by summer in Venezuela.
Shelvin Mack – Another candidate for the coveted “just a guard” honour, Mack has few flaws. He can play the point, or he can play the two. He can shoot, or he can drive. He can handle, or he can move without the ball. He can pass, or he can spot up. He does a little bit of everything. But what’s his role going to be? Can you be “just a guard” in the NBA? Maybe if you can jump like Shannon Brown or shoot like Eddie House. Mack does neither of these.
If he’s going to make it as a shooter, he’s going to have to get better as a shooter.
Looks a bit like Channing Frye, no?
Darius Morris – Morris is one of the purest, most pass-first point guards in this draft, ranking fifth in the nation in assists at 6.7 per game, alongside a solid 2.9 turnovers per game. In a Michigan system that rather mandated it, Morris dribbled the ball so much that his palms went orange – the only other play on the team with a chance of handling or playmaking was freshman Tim Hardaway Jr, who, frankly, could not be trusted. Morris also stuck in 15 points a game on a very impressive 49% shooting, although he did so without having any more than about 15 feet of range. He used his handle to not only keep the offence moving and the ball alive, but also to get to the rim – this was something a very protracted process involving several pivots, readjustments, and much burning of the clock, but it was largely effective.
Standing 6’4, Morris is also one of the bigger point guards in the draft. Without being lightning quick, he has one of the better physical profiles around – just as big as someone like Malcolm Lee, yet also being an actual point guard. Morris’s size helps him defensively, too, and while he’s not as good of a decision maker as the solid assist-to-turnover ratio and the 49% shooting suggest, he nonetheless was the crux of a Michigan team that made a deep run using little else but Morris and a load of shooters who weren’t that good at shooting. Morris is constantly attacking and applying pressure, and if that means the occasional mistake, so be it.
Isaiah Thomas – The oft-floated comparison for Thomas recently has been JJ Barea, whose success in the NBA playoffs represents a victory for dwarfism. It’s not baseless. They do differ in their physical profiles, however, for while Barea is about guile, Thomas had the physical tools. It’s a workable comparison, however.
Brad Wanamaker – While Wanamaker became a fine NCAA player, he is not likely to be an NBA player. He is either “just a guard,” or “a player without a position”, depending on your point of view – a nicely sized point guard or undersized two guard who’s better with the ball in his hands, but who struggles to defend either quick point guards or big two guards. Wanamaker can handle the ball and be a leader and a playmaker, a very good defender when not physically overmatched, and with a strong mid-range game. But he lacks for range and hasn’t defined a position. Then again, he hasn’t had to yet.
Corey Fisher – Fisher’s stock has cooled after an underwhelming senior season, supposed 105 point outing be damned. He’s somewhat improved his shot selection, but he’s still not an elite shooter, 23-made-three-pointers-in-a-supposed-105-point-outing be damned. He’s an improved decision maker, but he’s also not an especially effective half court point guard. He’s fast, but he’s small. He’s a keen and irritating defender, but he’s small and prone to mistakes. Fisher had the opportunity carry Villanova this year, but he couldn’t do it. He is good, but he is probably not good enough.
Malcolm Delaney – Delaney’s senior season was slightly anti-climactic. Through no fault of his own, a Virginia Tech team decimated by injuries did not make the tournament, and so Delaney’s 18.7 points and 4.0 assists per game were somewhat in vain. Perturbingly, both of those numbers were actually down on the previous season, but one thing that did improve was Delaney’s efficiency. Delaney has always had a knack for getting to the foul line, but he improved his outside jump shot over the years, and so even though he can’t finish at the rim and lacks a mid-range game, he has become as efficient as a 42% shooter can be, being as it is all threes and ones. Delaney is quick, occasionally disruptive defensively, and he’s always into the game. But he’s a point guard in size only – like several outlined already, he’s a scorer in a point guard’s body.
Delaney has already signed for next season with French side Chalon, where he will pair up with Alade Aminu.
Kevin Anderson – Anderson compares to Ronnie Price. Ronnie Price has had a multi-year NBA career, in spite of his fringe talent, so such a comparison is meant favourably. Yet a key condition to the comparison is to note that Ronnie is slightly better at everything. Both are point guard sized without being point guards, although both have improved in this regard, particularly Ronnie. Both are athletic, but only Ronnie can do this:
Both put forth good defensive effort and have decent hands, but Ronnie is bigger and faster. Both are making the adjustment to the point guard spot from being undersized scorers, but Ronnie has made it better. Both put forth good defensive effort and have good hands, but Ronnie is more disruptive. Both are sub-par jump shooters, but Ronnie has slightly more consistent range (which, considering his 31% career NBA three point shooting, is no great endorsement). And both are small, but Ronnie is slightly bigger. Anderson had a good senior campaign, aided (and aiding) a good season for the entire Spiders program. He has skills, effort and hustle. Yet he still comes up a little short.
Norris Cole – Cleveland State guard Cole put up the best individual game stat line in college basketball – 41 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assists versus an admittedly forgettable Youngstown State team. It was the first collegiate 40/20 game since Blake Griffin, and Blake Griffin is not a 6’1 point guard. Cole’s season averages are just as nice – 21.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game, with a solid 2:1 assist/turnover ratio, solid defence and good transition play. Cole is not the best outside shooter, isn’t the quickest, and is not especially big, but he wants it more than most. Grit, heart, hustle, intangibles, selflessness, etc. He’s better than Cedric Jackson, who made the NBA with a few different teams. It needn’t be an insurmountable obstacle that Jackson is bigger.
I’d make a Coronation Street reference here, but it would fall flat on its face.
Kalin Lucas – Lucas’s stock has cooled off during the last couple of years, due in no small part to an injury which he nobly battled through but which clearly slowed him down. When healthy, Lucas is a decent scoring guard, best in transition and fairly crafty if small in the paint, with a decent jump shot and defensive effort to boot. But his once first round stock has cooled considerably.
A tale of two hairlines.
Talor Battle – Battle has the aptest surname for a basketball player since Rolando Blackman. Battle is little, very little, listed at 5’11 and possibly smaller than that. But he battles, and has been something of a one man show for an improved Penn State. As a junior, Battle led the team in points (18.5ppg), assists (4.3apg), steals (1.1spg) and even rebounds (5.3rpg), and while getting a little help in his senior season brought down the rebounds and assists numbers, Battle’s scoring went up to 20.2ppg.
He did this via his jump shot, and he is a much better three point shooter than his 36% shooting from there suggests. Battle regularly shot from 30 feet, not because he was Jimmer Fridette, but because Penn State had no other offensive options, and Battle had to force something up. And given that being so small meant he was easy to smother on the perimeter, he had to drop back farther to shoot. Due to his size, Battle can’t do much around the basket and is no defensive threat – he doesn’t seem to have good hands, and isn’t even especially fast. It’s not likely that he makes the NBA as a shooting specialist. But if there was a summer league, he’d be in it, from whence anything can happen.
[Sadly, there is to be no 2011 summer league.]
Jacob Pullen – All attempts to turn Pullen into a real point guard ended in failure. He doesn’t get the position, and he’s never going to. The reason he makes the point guard list anyway is the same reason Randy Culpepper did – Pullen is only 6’0, and you are who you defend in this business. A good if somewhat streaky outside shooter, Pullen scores 20 points per game despite his size through a medley of catch-and-shoots, shots off the dribble, long range J’s, mid-range J’s, transition attempts, and some forays to the basket. His shot selection improved, and he got to the line 7 times a game, an impressive number for a lead guard. The effort was never in question.
What Pullen doesn’t have is Culpepper’s athleticism – he couldn’t finish at the basket even in college, and this will be magnified in the pro game. Pullen defends the point guard spot fairly well and has good hands, but he’s overmatched sizewhere even there, let alone at the two guard spot. And given that Pullen was suspended in the midst of his senior season – one in which a young, depleted and wobbling Kansas State team was crying out for upperclassman leadership – Pullen put up another strike against himself. It is highly likely, then, that he never plays in the NBA, despite the calibre of his jump shot.
Dan Kelm – Every year, it seems, there’s a joke entry into the draft. It was funny when Zach Feinstein did it back in 2008, and it raised a slight titter when John Sloan of Division III Huntingdon College did it last season. And now, apparently, it’s the turn of Dan Kelm, who averaged 1.2 points per game off the bench for NAIA school Viterbo last season. And Dan Kelm will get his fifteen minutes. But the joke’s been done now.
The Dogus is one of my favourite players, but what is he doing with that off hand.
Dogus Balbay – The Dogus excelled as a defender in college, and yet he also lived up to the rules of such matters – for whatever reason, good collegiate defenders tend to be bad shooters. And few were worse than Dogus, who hit precisely two jump shots as a senior, despite being a regular starter. [That’s jump shots from anywhere, not just threes. He hit 0 threes last year, and hit only 2 in his three year Longhorns career.] Balbay is big and athletic for a point guard, but not sufficiently big and athletic to the point where he can be considered big and athletic by NBA standards. He is big and athletic to defend anywhere else, though, and even if he is more of a ball-mover than a creator, he suffices as a point guard as well. A return to Turkey looks inevitable, because it seems unlikely that even Mark Bartelstein can get him drafted.
Jeremiah Rivers – Doc’s son has great size and extremely good defensive instincts. It is for this reason why a man who averaged 3.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 22 minutes per game made the list. [The other reason is because I like to accommodate for a spontaneous last minute decision to change the draft to a 15 round marathon.] Rivers’s numbers were down across the board as a senior – as the talent around him improved, Rivers was asked to do less and less offensively, to the point that he was eventually asked to do nothing offensively. Not bringing the ball up, not setting the offence, not catching and shooting, not anything. The defence is sufficiently good, though, that he still made his impact and earned his minutes anyway.
Jayson Granger – Granger is the best Uruguayan guard on this list. Born in Uruguay to an American father (East Texas State star Jeff Granger, who starred in Uruguay for so long that he became a resident) and an Italian mother, Jayson has been working his way through the Estudiantes system for several years, and is now an important first team player. Granger is strong if not especially fast, and a good pace-setter, an improved floor general type with good if not outstanding passing instincts, timing, pick-and-roll game, court sense, decent defence, and enough of an off-the-dribble game to get by. He is a mediocre outside shooter, though, and struggled badly with turnovers down the stretch of the ACB season, after a very strong EuroCup campaign. This is perhaps to be expected, given that he’s still young, and it’s still the ACB.
Apart from the very last bit, I also just described Chris Duhon, which was deliberate.
Joey Rodriguez – Rodriguez has actually already begun his professional career. Once his run with VCU ended, Rodriguez signed with Andy Miller of ASM Sports, and began playing in Puerto Rico, the homeland of his grandparents. Playing for San German, Rodriguez has averaged 4.5 points and 2.2 assists in 14 games thus far, playing alongside fellow former VCU guard Jesse Pellet-Rosa, the man Rodriguez sort-of replaced with the Rams. Pellet-Rosa has spent his career playing in Puerto Rico in the summer time, then finding some European gigs for the rest of the calendar year. Rodriguez seems likely to do the same. For all the heart, leaderships, intangibles etc that he brings, he’s just too small.
If you want to humilate and segregate women, buy a golf course or something. Don’t pimp out your girlfriend.
Venoy Overton – Overton might be the best defender on the list, which is impressive, considering there is some good defensive talent on this list. (Certainly more than there is offensive talent.) Overton is quick and athletic, if rather small, and his energy and hustle are incessant, if rather foul prone. Offensively, there’s less going on – Overton’s speed allows for the occasional drive and transition play, and he’s improved his decision making and passing game as he’s aged, although he still can’t shoot.
Unfortunately, Overton managed to cripple his fledgling stock by being accused of the rape of a 16 year old girl in January. Overton claimed that the girl was a willing participant in an orgy that had been arranged during a meeting at a McDonald’s. Charges of rape were later dropped, although Overton was still charged with furnishing a minor with alcohol, receiving community service. And this very week, Overton was arrested for, essentially, being a pimp. That’s your senior leader right there, apparently.
Ogo Adegboye – It is necessary to give a shout-out to the fellow Englishman. Adegboye is statistically unremarkable – as a senior as St Bonaventure, Ogo averaged 11.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game, shooting 39% from the field and 37% from three. His most notable statistical contribution is in his court time. where he averaged 39.0 minutes per game, the highest in the nation. At one point in the season, he averaged 40.7mpg, which is hard to do in 40 minute games, helped by a 59 minute outing in a four overtime game against Ohio. Ogo played less than 31 minutes in a game only once, when he fouled out in 18 minutes against George Mason. Were it not for that game, he would have averaged 39.7 minutes per game, Wilt Chamberlain-esque. The rest of his game is rather more Mike Bizoukas-esque – Adegboye defends the point guard position fairly well, plays hard, is a decent catch-and-shooter, and moves the ball, but he doesn’t excel in any one facet.
Kevin Galloway – The oft-transferred Galloway finally played his senior season, doing so at Texas Southern. He averaged 37.3 minutes, 10.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 5.0 turnovers, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. The assists per game ranked eighth in the nation, while the turnovers per game ranked last, a sizeable 0.8 ahead of Keion Bell. 6’7, athletic, dynamic, exciting, no jump shot, no discipline, and wild as hell. Galloway did little to challenge his own reputation last year.
Aaron Johnson – Johnson is UAB’s all-time assists leader, and led the nation last season at 7.7 per game. He also defends about as well as a 5’8 guard in a major-ish conference can, being named to the Conference USA All-Defensive team. But Johnson can’t shoot, and is no consistent threat around the basket due to his lack of size. He’s not scared – he’s just small. He’ll make money somewhere, but not here.
Demontez Stitt – Stitt was a guard at Clemson, so you know he can defend. He averaged 14.5 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.3 rpg and 1.4 spg as a senior, with team highs in points and assists; however, as a wise man may once have said, a team high in assists does not a point guard make. Stitt is a score-first player, who can get the ball over half-court and move it around without making too many mistakes, yet he’s no point guard. He’s a scorer. Furthermore, he’s a scorer without much of a jump shot – his jumper improved throughout his career, yet Stitt is still a mediocre, streaky outside shooter. He’s a slasher, transition player and defender, who’s not an NBA calibre defensive specialist.
Derwyn Kitchen – Kitchen’s scouting report reads much like Stitt’s above. The differences are that Kitchen is bigger, with very good size for the point guard position, and more of a ball mover than a scorer. As a senior, Kitchen averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 30.6 minutes per game, shooting a healthy 49% from the field. Unfortunately, it is also rather on his shoulders that Florida State never really ran anything. Kitchen can defend, but he’s not a half court point guard.
Preston Knowles – Knowles is a point guard only because he’s small. If he could be a shooting guard, he would. Knowles averaged healthy numbers of 14.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.0 turnovers and 1.9 steals per game, particularly impressive in the Big East. But Knowles did it on 38% shooting – while he can get open off of curls, and/or spot up on the perimeter, and occasionally shoot off the dribble, he can’t do anything within the paint. Knowles almost never got to the free throw line, never really tried to, and is a combo guard in a point guard’s body. Nevertheless, Knowles excelled as a defender, and became a popular figure due to his hustle and intensity. And this dance.
Jared Stohl – Continuing the list of shooters is Stohl, recent Portland graduate who shot 43% from three last season, after hitting 48% and 46% in the two years prior. Stohl never turns it over because he never dribbles; he doesn’t regularly bring the ball up, either, which is a problem at 6’1. He doesn’t defend, rebound, handle, do much off the dribble, create or anything else. But he can spot up and hit long jumpers as well as anyone in this list.
Jacob Tucker – The dunk contest winner is in the draft. As for what he’s good at…..there’s this.
Mickey McConnell – Of all the players mentioned above, none are as good of a pure point guard as Mick Mack. In all likelihood, McConnell is not going to get drafted – he is 6’0, not strong and not fast. He has no physical tools in his favour, and he’s also a senior, so Cory Joseph types are inevitably going to be picked ahead of him in the second round. But none run the offence better than McConnell.
McConnell is an incredibly high IQ player, a very efficient and mistake-free half court point guard, whose understanding of the offence and passing skills have been making players such as Omar Samhan, Ben Allen and Mitchell Young look better than they actually are. His pick-and-roll game is exquisite, and he completely dominates and regulates the flow of the game, so much so that St. Mary’s couldn’t afford to ever taken him out (hence his 37.0mpg average). He’s a shooter, too, hitting over 50% from the field in the past two seasons, and a combined 47% from the field with roughly 30 feet of range. He is also crafty around the basket, even if he’s far too small, and while he can’t score like JJ Barea or defend like Brevin Knight, he places somewhere in between them.
McConnell’s size will be his downfall – his good hands and instincts defensively are undermined by his inability to hinder anyone’s chosen direction, and he’s too small to do much in the paint except continue to dribble. His shot is also something of a set shot, with a low, Stockton-like release, neither of which help him get it off against athletic defenders. (See the above Goudelock video for evidence.) He already struggled against athleticism, even at the WCC/NCAA level. But those flaws shouldn’t matter as much as they will. McConnell is very good, great fun, and will have a solid first season in Serie A next year.
[As long as it is really truly understood that it is a mere style of play comparison, and not a talent-level nor career-prognosis comparison, the John Stockton comparison extends beyond the jump shot release. Except the bit where John Stockton was the all-time steals leader. McConnell can’t do that bit.]
I am continuously intrigued by the esoterica and minutiae of all the aspects of building a basketball team. I want to understand how to build the best basketball teams possible. No, I don’t know why, either.