NBA Draft 2012: Shooting Guards

The 2012 SGs don’t measure up so well, but there are some interesting prospects. I’ve already ready addressed Bradley Beal who is the top pure SG along with Waiters, Wroten and Lillard, all of whom I like better than most of this group. These are players that have one or two things about them that I find intriguing, but don’t have the complete package of skills that have traditionally set successful prospects apart.

We have a couple of wingspan guys in Jeremy Lamb and Orlando Johnson. Also in the mix are a pair of gunners in John Jenkins and Doron Lamb. The most intriguing pair might be Will Barton and Terrence Ross, a couple of players with good stats who look too much like undersized forwards to be taken too seriously as SGs. Then there’s Marcus Denmon, an under appreciated, but solid prospect who may become the best of this bunch should none of the others pan out.

A quick review of what I look for in SGs: A 2-point FG pct. of at least .500, P40 at least 20.0, S40 at least 1.4, RSB40 at least 7.0 and an A/TO no lower than 0.8. In each case the higher the better. Youth always gets a little more leeway.

Players are listed in order of preference, all other things being equal. The statistics listed are 2-point pct, 3-point pct, P40, S40, RSB40 and A/TO.

Evan Fournier, France, .522, .277, 21.6, 2.3, 7.4, 1.0: I’ll start by saying I’m not as knowledgeable on foreign players as a draft “guru” should be. I will say that Fournier has impressive enough stats for a player so young that I would take my chances with him before any college SG in this group.

It’s very impressive that he posted a 20+ P40 as a 19 year-old playing in at the top level in Europe. Usually the younger players are in more of a support role. He scored efficiently as well and posted strong numbers in other areas of his game. The only weakness is he has yet to hit 3-pointers consistently. At his young age I wouldn’t call this a huge concern, but just something to keep in mind.

Fournier’s numbers and potential say he’s the most promising SG available in the 2012 draft after Brad Beal. While this says more about the SG field than Fournier, I feel he’s a safe pick starting around the back of the lottery.

Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, .601, .336, 19.2, 1.3, 7.3, 0.9: He of the 7’ wingspan and perfect SG look. Lamb hit 60% of his 2-pointers, which in itself is impressive. Less impressive are his sub-20.0 P40 and his 1.3 S40.

History tells us that two types of players can overcome a low (sub 1.4) steals rate and succeed. The first is someone like Arron Afflalo who played in Ben Howland’s system at UCLA which clearly suppresses the defensive numbers of backcourt players. The other is a player who can shoot the lights out. Players like Allan Houston, Hubert Davis and Quentin Richardson all survived low S40 numbers as sophomores to have long, productive careers mainly due to their shooting ability. Lamb has a career .348 3-point mark, so he has a lot of work to do if he’s going to become valued NBA sniper.

There are some impressive things about Lamb. His length makes him potentially a dominant defender. He has flashed dominant scoring ability. His problem has been he just isn’t an aggressive enough player on either side of the ball. I mean if his 7’ wingspan didn’t help him dominate the Big East, how can we expect him to do so in the NBA?

I also think about Lamb’s situation at UConn last year. This was a team screaming for a player to lift them out of a tough season. Lamb seemed like the perfect player to take on such a task and he didn’t get it done. I don’t want to blame him for the disaster in Storrs this past year, but it isn’t something that enhances his resume either.

Jeremy Lamb has obvious potential, but not much of it has been realized on the court yet. He needs to shoot better from behind the arc and become a more aggressive player in general. That’s something that has been historically difficult for any player to achieve and I doubt Lamb will be an exception. I list him after Fournier and ahead of the others because of the length, athleticism and the fact he hit 60% of his 2-pointers. That shows an ability to dominate and at some point around the middle of round one, that potential will trump anything else left on the board.

Will Barton, Memphis, .559, .346, 20.2, 1.6, 11.3, 1.4:

Terrence Ross, Washington, .518, .371, 20.1, 1.5, 10.6, 0.7: Similar players. They were born a month apart. Both are sophomores listed as forwards in some places. Both have the high RSB40, but lack the high S40 that sets the superstar wings apart. Both barely pass the 20.0 P40 benchmark. Both are more efficient scorers from inside the arc than behind it.

Both players look very impressive for guards, but I’m leery of ranking either player too high because both look too much like forwards. A lot of SG prospects play SF in college. Some are SGs playing in a 3- or 4-guard offense and have no problem adjusting to full-time SG at the next level. Others are undersized SFs who don’t have the quickness to make the move. Recent wing prospects Chris Douglas-Roberts and James Anderson posted similarly impressive guard numbers while playing more forward in college. Both failed to make much of an impact in the NBA. This is the biggest concern I have for both Barton and Ross.

Barton is the more impressive of the two, because he’s a better passer, has slightly better defensive numbers and boasts that 56% 2PP. Ross has the low, 0.7, A/TO that has always been a glaring red flag for prospects. It is worth noting that Ross was a much better passer as a freshman, 1.4 A/TO. That makes the 0.7 of 2012 less of a concern.

I could see drafting either of these players in the mid- to late first round. Both have good size for the position and their numbers look good. Both have a high end of a decent rotation NBA SG and the low end of being the next Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Marcus Denmon, Missouri, .526, .407, 20.6, 1.8, 7.7, 1.4: Denmon is a pretty solid prospect. I don’t see too many holes in his game as I do with several other players here. He fits the profile of a good NBA role player. He tops every necessary benchmark required for a successful NBA SG. He has 3 years hitting over 40% of his 3-pointers. He has by far the lowest turnover rate of any guard available this year. A player who brings the effective sniper/low turnover skill set is a good player who works very effectively as a role player next to a superstar. While he’s never been much of a willing passer, his extremely low turnover rate suggests he might even be able to handle some point.

The only issue I can see with Denmon is his size. He’s 6’2” without the great wingspan. That’s a problem in the sense that it makes it difficult to project him as a starter. But he looks like he has what it takes to become an effective bench player. Players like Denmon just don’t get the respect they deserve in the draft. He’s been a solid 4-year player on a very good team who has proven on the court he can do everything necessary to help an NBA team. He’d be a bargain in round 2.

Orlando Johnson, UCSB, .464, .427, 22.9, 1.3, 8.9, 1.2: Similar to Barton and Ross. His high RSB40 is driven more by rebounds than steals and that’s not necessarily a good thing. He’s also a 5th-year senior and that’s never a good thing. What makes him worth a look is he was a more efficient scorer in past years:

Orlando Johnson




















Two years of scoring often and efficiently from both inside and out make Johnson a decent prospect. The fact that his efficiency took a dive as a senior isn’t good. I could dismiss this as an aberration, but it does have to be considered. The bigger concern is his dangerously low steals rate. He topped 1.4 as a junior, which is the low mark for successful prospects.

Johnson is an OK prospect. There’s some good and some bad. I don’t like 5th-year seniors as a rule, but he was a solid prospect before his 5th-year, so that isn’t a huge concern here. There’s a chance he could become a decent player, what with his length and scoring prowess. The low steals and recent problems with efficiency are big concerns, but he has enough ability and promise that he’s worth a late 1st round look.

Doron Lamb, Kentucky, .481, .466, 17.2, 1.9, 4.1, 1.4:

John Jenkins, Vanderbilt, .542, .439, 23.7, 1.0, 4.8, 0.8: A couple of gunners with weak defensive numbers. Jenkins is the more prolific scorer. Lamb is better from behind the arc, is more impressive on defense and is a better ballhandler. I prefer Lamb, because he’s younger and there’s the likelihood his numbers were suppressed somewhat by playing on the nation’s most talent-laden team. Either player is worth a 2nd-round pick, but both look like longshots to have any lasting impact. If I were looking for shooting and backcourt depth, I’d take Denmon over either one.

Jared Cunningham, Oregon State, .507, .338, 19.5, 2.8, 7.4, 1.0: I liked him a lot better before the pace adjustments brought some of his numbers back to earth. The P40 below 20.0 is a killer for SG prospects and is the one number that hurts Cunningham most. Still a decent enough prospect though. He’s young for a junior so he still gets some upside points. The most impressive number is the steals. He’s around 3.0 S40 for his career and that in itself makes him a player worth looking at. Like this entire group Cunningham is a long shot to become anything more than a reserve. There are some impressive things about him that make him worth drafting, but he has a ways to go.

Austin Rivers, Duke, .477, .365, 18.3, 1.2, 5.2, 0.9: Rivers has numbers that are soft. I wouldn’t consider him much of a prospect if he wasn’t a freshman who came in with the highly-touted label attached. One thing to like about Rivers is he did improve some as the season progressed:

Austin Rivers

























The post-January Austin Rivers remains a weak prospect, but he’s easier to buy into than the pre-February Austin Rivers and the fact that he improved rather than declined is a good thing. He upped his efficiency to an acceptable level and improved defensively.

The thing to keep in mind with Rivers is that despite the improvement, he’s still not where he needs to be as a prospect. He certainly isn’t the future all-star he was touted as coming into the season. Buying into his upside/athleticism combo isn’t a terrible plan. But this isn’t a plan that should be implemented until well after the lottery teams have chosen.

Kim English, Missouri, .589, .459, 17.4, 1.6, 7.0, 1.0: While English isn’t much of a prospect there are a few things about him that merit a mention. The first is he was the Tigers leading scorer as a sophomore before Denmon took over that role. This is important, because it showed he’s capable of being aggressive offensively. His percentages this past year were terrific, but represent a huge upgrade on his previous 3 seasons so they’re probably not an accurate reflection of his real ability. Another huge negative is he’ll be 24 by the time the NBA season starts and players who have their best college seasons at 23 just don’t have a great history. English is worth a look because of the shooting touch he flashed this past season, but is very much a long shot.

Tomas Satoransky, Czeh Republic, .500, .273, 11.1, 1.3, 6.5, 1.0: He’s almost exactly a year older than Founier and is nowhere near the prospect. He looks more like the typical foreign SG who never makes the NBA after being drafted late in round two even if there are some silly comps to Manu Ginoboli tossed out by the TV analysts during the draft coverage.

His biggest strength is that he might be able to handle the point. At 6’7”, that makes him very intriguing. The numbers just aren’t there though and at 20 his upside is starting fade.

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