In a league full of solid PGs the 2015 class looks like it will add some good one to the group. In addition to the 2 young phenoms, Russell and Mudiay, there are a lot of 5th-year senior I find myself liking this year.
The PG benchmarks are .500 2PP, 18.0 P40, 5.0 A40, 1.4 S40, 6.0 RSB40, 1.4 A/TO and some 3-point ability. These aren’t as strict for freshmen and sophomores as they are for juniors and seniors.
Here are the numbers. Players are listed in order of how I would draft them all other things being equal.
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: The thing that most impressed me about Grant is that he came back from an embarrassing academic suspension and put in a solid senior season. It seems like a situation that would have many players declaring for the draft or transferring. Grant went back to Notre Dame and made things right. While I normally try to stick to the numbers, I do think this past year speaks well of Jerian Grant’s character.
As far as the numbers go, Grant is mixed bag. His consistently low RSB40 is the biggest negative and suggests he’s a career backup. One the other hand he did post a stellar .572 2PP this year. He was at .578 in his 427 minutes as a junior before the suspension so this number looks pretty solid. He’s probably the best passing PG in the draft. The assists are high and the TOs have been consistently low. His .316 on 3-pointers was poor, but he did hit .357 on 361 previous career attempts so I think it’s safe to say that isn’t a problem.
There’s a lot I like about Jerian Grant. He seems to have solid character. There have been definite improvements in his game. The .572 2PP and 3.1 A/TO are dominant numbers for a prospect. He has NBA size. If any player can buck the huge negative that his sub-6.0 RSB40 is, he seems like a great candidate. But I can remember trying to convince myself the same thing with Trey Burke a couple of years ago. That a player can overcome traditionally bad college numbers to become a star. That just doesn’t happen very often. I feel Jerian Grant will have decent, possibly very long NBA career, but I feel most of it will be spent as a reserve/ spot starter.
Tyus Jones, Duke: Jones came in this year as a top 5 overall prospect. While he didn’t disappoint, he didn’t exactly blow the world away as a potential star NBA PG. He is a freshman, so there is some upside here. Jones was an excellent passer, posting 6.4 A40 and a 2.9 A/TO. Both are very impressive numbers not just for a freshman, but a freshman leading a freshman-dominated team. The negatives, a low 2PP, P40 and RSB40 are there, but aren’t as big a deal as they would be with an upperclassman.
I don’t see Jones as a future star. The numbers just aren’t there. I think he showed enough promise as a freshman that scooping him up late in round one is a decent gamble. He and Grant represent the 3rd tier PGs likely to be taken post-lottery. My advice would be to draft Delon Wright over both. If the choice is between the 2, Grant is the immediate help guy and Jones is the upside guy. I feel both will have similar journeyman careers.
TJ McConnell, Arizona: McConnell looked like potential star at Duquense following his sophomore season in 2012. He was a solid passer and defender. He could score efficiently from inside and out. The only question was whether or not he could take on a larger offensive load while keeping his other numbers constant. This question was never answered as he sat out the next year following a transfer to Arizona. The next two seasons he was the facilitator, but not a top offensive option, for one of the most talented teams in the nation, reaching the elite 8 both seasons. Here’s his career number.
The first two lines were at Duquense, the next two at Arizona. He sat out a year in between the two stops making him a fifth-year senior and a year older than the typical senior. Yes, that is something we’re going to hold against him.
McConnell has a lot of strengths as a PG prospect. He has a history of efficient scoring. The negatives in his offense are the he has never been a high-volume scorer like most successful PGs and he lost his 3-point touch at Arizona. As a passer and defender he has always been solid. I think he can probably get the touch from the outside back. The worrisome part is he has never even looked to be a scorer. All PGs need some level of aggressiveness, for no other reason than to keep defenses honest. He also hit a double 8 as a senior, topping 8.0 in both assists and RSB40. Historically this has meant a long NBA career, be it as a star or a reserve. McConnell obviously fits into the latter category.
Just looking at his skills I feel McConnell can be a useful pro at the very least. If he gets the 3-pointer to fall like it did his first couple of seasons McConnell is a good bet to become useful as a defensive specialist who is also dangerous as a shooter if left alone. If he develops some aggressiveness, he might even surprise some people and become a solid starting PG. Definitely a good 2nd round value.
Corey Walden, Eastern Kentucky: Walden is a 5th-year senior who had an up-and-down career before exploding in his senior season. Because he is a 5th-year senior and a late bloomer his numbers, as terrific as they are, aren’t as impressive as if they were posted by a younger player.
That being said Walden was a dominant player this year and deserves a shot. The most impressive numbers were the 662 2PP and the 3.7 S40. He has posted 2PPs of .587 and .607 the previous 2 seasons, so his offensive potential is there. The S40 has been consistently over 2.5, so he should be a good enough defender.
The negative is that he just doesn’t score enough for a small college guard. Most successful ones were well over 25.0 P40. This is Walden’s first season topping 20.0. That and his status as a 5th-year senior who will turn 23 over the summer peg Walden as a second rounder at best. He’s a prospect teams should be looking at though.
Briante Weber, Virginia Commonwealth: I have to mention Briante Weber. He was arguably the best perimeter defender in the nation and had been for 3 seasons when he went down with a horrific knee injury at the end of January. In 5 seasons he averaged 5.0 S40. That’s double of what I would call a great number. A dominant number like that makes me take notice.
Weber’s offense has never gotten to the point it needed to despite a few promising signs. He was always a good passer and he topped .400 on 3-pointers this year, albeit on just 29 attempts. Weber should get a look assuming he rehabs the knee. I doubt he can offer much other than great defense, but that defense was so impressive that some team should give him a shot.
Corey Hawkins, UC-Davis: Hawkins is another 5th-year senior. He’ll be 24 by the time the NBA season starts, so his great numbers shouldn’t be taken too seriously. They are great numbers though. His season looks similar, but not quite as good, to the season Damian Lillard had his draft year.
This is by far his best season and that’s more of a negative than a positive for a prospect this old. I could see him as a 3&D player. He hit .488 from behind the arc this year on 166 attempts. His defensive numbers have been consistently solid throughout his career. Hawkins would be a good get as an UFA.
Ryan Harrow, Georgia State: Harrow is more like a 6th-year senior. He turned 24 in April. He hasn’t looked anything like a prospect until this year, but did enough that he deserves a mention. He started at North Carolina State where he played sparingly as a freshman. He transferred to Kentucky of all places and played PG for the 2013 team that lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. He landed at Georgia State where he put in 2 decent years, the 2nd one good enough to merit an NBA look.
The red flags are obvious with Harrow. There’s his age, the 2 transfers, the fact that his numbers were never good for a prospect until this year and it adds up to a player unlikely to make it at the next level. He is worth an UFA look though, because he did get his game together this year following a long journey.