For shooting guards I look at 6 benchmarks. These have historically been numbers that SGs who made any significant impact on the NBA have hit as college players.
- Hitting over 50% on 2 pointers or at least very close to it. This higher the better, as usually is the case.
- Scoring 20.0 points per 40 minutes. This one seems almost set in stone. There have been very few successful SGs who didn’t score 20 P40 regardless of how impressive their other numbers were.
- A combined rebounds, steals and blocks of at least 7.0.
- At the very minimum, 1.3 steals per 40 minutes.
- An assist/turnover ratio of no lower than 0.8. This one isn’t a higher the better situation like the other benchmarks are. I mean I’m sure it’s better to have more assists and fewer TOs, but there’s no correlation to the success of players with higher A/TOs. It just seems to be important that they’re over 0.8.
- An ability to hit 3-pointers at the NBA level. This hasn’t always been the case, but an outside shot has become so much more important in recent years that I decided to add this.
Like the rest of the draft this is a weak group. What stands out about them most to me is most of the best SGs this year look more like undersized forwards than guards.
Marshon Brooks, Providence: I like Brooks the best of the SGs. He hits all the numbers fairly comfortably. The only issue I can see is that he’s a senior who has been slow to appear on the radar as a prospect. Particularly his scoring, which has been below 20 P40 his first three seasons. That’s never a good thing for a prospect. I can give Brooks some benefit of the doubt because of his situation. He just didn’t get the minutes his first 3 seasons, but still put up impressive numbers in every category other than scoring frequency. When he did finally become the top option as a senior he handled the step up in responsibility with ease. I think it is safe to say he can play in the NBA.
As far as how good he’ll be, that’s a tough one. Even adjusting for Providence’s fast pace, he still boasts 25 P40, .559 2-point pct and 9.8 RSB40. Numbers like that usually label a SG prospect as a future all-star. Had he put these numbers up as a frosh or soph, that’s exactly where I would put his prospects. Since players who emerge later in their careers rarely have the same success as players who are stars from the start, I’m hesitant to place him that high. Because he didn’t really get the opportunity to shine until his senior year and put up strong per minute numbers leading up to then, I have to think that there is all-star potential here. I can’t say that about any other SG, so that makes Marshon Brooks an easy choice as the top SG available.
Klay Thompson, Washington State: He has good size, plays solid defense and scores a bunch of points. The problem number here is his 2-point pct. He’s at .466 this year and that’s by far his career high. Several successful SGs, including Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Michael Finley and Mitch Richmond have posted similar or lower numbers. The difference is for most of these players, Hamilton being a notable exception, that number was a career low. For Thompson, it is the opposite. It has always been more important for a college SG to show he can score efficiently inside the arc than outside the arc and Thompson has yet to do this.
Thompson’s low 2-point pct. kind of dooms him as a prospect in my eyes. He looks like he can still be somewhat useful as a player. He’s long, has good defensive potential and has a good outside shot. Those are all good things and should keep Thompson in the league for a decent amount of time. But he doesn’t look like a starter and seems likely to struggle to become a rotation regular.
Alec Burks, Colorado: Good scorer. He scores a lot and efficiently enough. His 3-point percentage was down this year, .292, but he hit .352 as a freshman and it seems like there is enough to work with here. The important thing is he was at .508 on 2-pointers. His 10.1 RSB40 looks stellar, but might be a little misleading. Of the 10.1, 8.3 of that is rebounds and only 1.4 (actually 1.37) of that is steals. That’s what I meant in intro about some of these players look more like forwards than guards.
This is a big concern. As is the case with Thompson’s low 2-point pct, a S40 of 1.4 is right on the borderline of being something of a fatal statistic for a SG prospect. Burks was at 1.54 as a freshman, which helps his case. But the fact remains that very few SGs have gone onto successful NBA careers after posting a S40 this low. Those who have, Reggie Miller, Allan Houston and Eric Piatkowski, were all lights out shooters. Burks is not a lights out shooter, in fact 3-point shooting would have to be considered one of his weaknesses at this point. For that reason I feel he’s something of a project at this point and I can’t put him in the class of Brooks.
E’Twaun Moore, Purdue: If you think of this draft for what it is, Kyrie Irving and a bunch of role players, a player like Moore starts to look a little better. He has never been over .500 on his 2-pointers, but he’s been over .470 the past 3 years. So giving him some benefit of the doubt, he’s been close to the neighborhood he needs to be in as a scorer. But looking at what he brings, 3-point ability, the potential to be a great defender and experience running the point, there is a lot to like here. Again, I’m not looking at him as a player who will take a team to another level or is even a potential starter. He isn’t that player. But as a player who might be able to help out in a role at the end of a rotation and do so immediately, Moore seems like a good candidate. To me this might even give him an edge on Burks and Thompson, who both seem more like hit or miss type of prospects.
Bill Clark, Duquense: He hits all the statistical benchmarks and that’s a good thing. The problem is it took him until his senior season to get there and that isn’t good. This isn’t a case like Brooks where a prospect simply may not have had the opportunity. Clark just didn’t look like a prospect his first 3 seasons. Another mark against Clark is he’s 23, a year older than most seniors. That’s also older than Eric Gordon and James Harden, just to add some perspective. He’s a longshot, but I feel he’s worthy of a mention due to the great season he put in.
Mark Payne, UC-Davis: I really don’t know what to make of him, or if he’s even properly listed as a SG. He seems like more of a point forward, considering his size and skills. But he’s listed as a guard. While I can’t call him even a great college player, I can say he has shown some signs of being a dominant player and that’s important. He passes the ball as well as any non-PG available. He scores from inside the arc at a very high rate and has posted some very strong defensive numbers throughout his career. The negatives are he’s never been a big time scorer and played in a weaker conference. His chances would appear slim. But in a draft like this it seems like a smarter move to take a chance with a player like this in round 2 who is something of a wild card when it comes to potential as opposed to a player who is certain to be ordinary at best.
David Lighty, Ohio State: I feel the same way about Lighty and a few SFs for that matter, as I do about Payne. He has never been much of a scorer and that is a huge negative for any SG prospect. He’s also 23 years old and has been slow to appear on the radar. He’s also a very versatile player who has the potential to be a lock down defender. He has a lot of skills that would seem to work well in the NBA. For that reason he has to be worth a look for any team looking to fill out a rotation. Like Moore he’s a senior from a good system who could probably step right in and help out.
Travis Leslie, Georgia: Leslie just doesn’t have the scorer mentality that has been necessary for successful SGs. He doesn’t score often enough and his efficiency is also kind of soft. His only strength is that he’s an incredible rebounder for a player of his height. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it will hardly find him a niche in the NBA where the market for 6’4” rebounding specialists just isn’t there. Any team drafting Leslie will be taking him based on his athletic ability and upside.
Malcolm Lee, UCLA: His statistics don’t measure up in any category other than 2-point pct. and he doesn’t look at all like a prospect. I mention him, because he is considered a likely 2nd round draftee and because of a strange and annoying tendency UCLA guards have displayed in recent years of ridiculously outperforming their college numbers. This happened with Farmar, Collison, Westbrook and Afflalo. I personally doubt Lee will match this group, simply because he didn’t experience the same team success these other players did. But I did think this was something worth mentioning.
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall: A promising scorer. He’s been over .500 on 2-pointers his entire college career while scoring a ton of points. His other numbers aren’t great, but aren’t so bad either that I could simply dismiss his chances. He is 25 years old, which is a huge negative of course. But in a weak draft he’s worth a low-cost look. Not that such low-cost looks are going to happen this year with the lockout looking imminent.