NBA Draft: The Shooting Guards

The 2016 SG field is pretty mediocre as draft subgroups go. We have the potential star in Hield, the frosh phenoms in Murray and Beasley, a few intriguing prospects with issues, young players too erratic to be taken seriously, old players who finally arrived as prospects and a few guys worth a flyer as a UFA. Basically it’s the usual suspects. Here are the pace adjusted numbers:

Shooting Guards 2PP 3PP P40 S40 A/TO RSB40
Buddy Hield 548 460 27.4 1.2 0.7 8.1
Jamal Murray 502 408 22.5 1.1 0.9 7.3
Malik Beasley 518 387 20.2 1.2 0.9 8.3
Caris LeVert 541 446 23.0 1.4 3.0 9.1
Patrick McCaw 571 366 16.2 2.7 1.9 8.8
Daniel Hamilton 416 331 16.4 1.4 2.0 13.5
Isaiah Whitehead 390 365 21.6 1.4 1.5 7.4
Malachi Richardson 388 353 16.1 1.4 1.0 6.8
Furkan Korkmaz 523 424 15.3 0.7 1.3 5.2
Malcolm Brogdon 498 391 24.6 1.3 2.2 7.1
Michael Gbinje 525 391 19.0 2.1 1.5 7.2
Wayne Selden 548 392 18.5 1.0 1.4 6.0
Damion Lee 517 341 19.6 1.9 1.2 6.7
Jarelle Reischel 534 381 21.9 2.0 0.8 10.9

Players are listed in order of how I like them as prospects, all other things being equal.

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma

Jamal Murray, Kentucky: When a player comes in as a freshman and tops .500 2PP, .400 3PP while scoring 22.5 P40 as Murray did this year, that’s very impressive. The glitch in his resume is the low S40. Murray is at 1.1. Not many freshmen have gone onto great things with a 1.1 S40, no matter how impressive the rest of their game is. Of players with significant minutes only Allan Houston and Steve Smith went on to solid NBA careers after posting a S40 below 1.4. Reggie Miller was at 0.9, but he did this in just 384 minutes. Here are some more recent SG prospects with low S40s:

Ben McLemore 553 420 19.4 1.2 1.0 8.4
Devin Booker 527 411 18.7 0.8 1.1 4.7
Jamal Murray 502 408 22.5 1.1 0.9 7.3
Malik Beasley 518 387 20.2 1.2 0.9 8.3

I included Beasley for reasons I’ll mention when I get to him. McLemore has been a bust. Booker had a somewhat promising rookie year, but is hardly a lock for stardom. If any player looked like a good bet to break the sub 1.3 S40 curse coming out of college it was McLemore. He scored very efficiently and was a good shot blocker. In 3 seasons he has yet to develop. Booker could be an exception, but it is too early to say how his career might go. I will say the fact that both Booker and Murray played at Kentucky is a slight positive for Murray. It is possible there’s something in the system that suppresses steals. Brandon Knight was another recent Kentucky guard who had NBA success despite a low S40 as a freshman.

So Jamal Murray looks like a reach to me if drafted in the top 10 as he’s expected to be. I have to say this, because history says Murray will underperform as a top 10 pick. Exceptions happen though and with young, talented players one should never say never. But Murray is fighting history here with his 1.1 S40 and history usually wins.

Malik Beasley, Florida State: Beasley is in the same place as Murray. He’s a freshman with great offensive numbers and decent numbers everywhere else. The exception is the low S40. Like Murray this makes Beasley a risk as a prospect. Unlike Murray, Beasley is being projected in the post-lottery first round which is a good place to take a risk on such a prospect.

Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert is one of those mystery prospects who is incredibly intriguing, but also comes with some scary issues. As a prospect he has come a long way in 4 seasons.

Caris LeVert 2PP 3PP P40 A40 S40 A/TO RSB40
Freshman 326 302 8.6 2.8 0.7 2.6 5.0
Sophomore 460 408 15.2 3.5 1.4 1.7 6.8
Junior 430 405 17.9 4.5 2.1 1.7 8.4
Senior 546 446 23.0 6.9 1.4 3.0 9.1

He went from a little-used freshman, to a good college player as a sophomore, to a legit pro prospect in his final 2 seasons. He became a better player every year. His numbers showed consistent improvement, whether it was scoring, passing, rebounding or defense. That’s a sign of a smart, hard-working player.

As versatile as he is, LeVert’s game should fit well at the next level. He’s a long wing who can run the point if needed. He can knock down a 3-pointer and should be a solid defender. His turnover rate has always been low, regardless of usage, which is another huge positive. He even showed better ability to score inside as a senior. There is nothing in his numbers that I would call a negative. He’s even a young senior who won’t turn 22 until August.

The one big negative is his injury history. LeVert has missed significant parts of the last couple of seasons, playing only 33 games and 1109 minutes combined. Basically he has missed the equivalent of an entire season. Both injuries have been to his left foot and he has had 3 surgeries on the foot.

Foot injuries are bad for a basketball player. The constant pounding, jumping and hard cutting involved in the game can be hell on a player’s feet and ankles. Once the injuries start it can get to be a chronic thing. Caris LeVert has had problems in the same foot for a couple of years now. This has to be a concern. The past couple of years he injured his foot before playing 20 games. Whether his foot can handle the grind of an 82-game NBA schedule is a legitimate question.

Caris LeVert seems like the type who will do whatever is necessary to get his foot right and ready to play. Everything I’ve read about him suggests he’s a very hard worker with a lot of focus and determination. The evidence of this is his statistical improvement in 4 seasons at Michigan. It’s also true that if his foot just isn’t equipped to play basketball at this level there may not be much he can do to avoid these injuries.

My feeling is to always shoot for the moon in the draft. A prospect with numbers like LeVert’s is a late lottery pick if given a clean bill of health. The only negative I see in his numbers is he didn’t become an efficient scorer until his senior year and he only did that against a non-conference schedule. If he can get the feet right through rest, rehab and continued therapy, Caris LeVert will be a steal in the late first or second round.

Patrick McCaw, UNLV: McCaw is one of those guys with some stats that really jump out. Specifically his 2.7 S40 and .571 2PP. Those are a couple of dominant SG numbers. He’s also a good enough passer that he could probably play some point and he has good size at 6’8”. The only negative is he doesn’t score frequently enough for a SG prospect, hitting only 16.2 P40.

I see McCaw as a good risk in late round one, despite the negatives. He’s only 20 so he has some time to learn to be more aggressive as a scorer. The 2.7 S40 and .571 2PP suggest he has serious athleticism. Patrick McCaw could be one of the surprises of this draft.

Daniel Hamilton, Connecticut: Hamilton’s numbers are very atypical for a SG prospect. He doesn’t score very often or efficiently. His defensive numbers are just so-so. But he is one of the best rebounding guards in the nation at 11.6 R40 and passes well enough to play some point. He is tall enough to play some SF.

Daniel Hamilton is a player with some dominant numbers who seems capable of playing all 3 perimeter positions. He’s young enough at 20 that there is a lot of upside to factor in. Drafting a project like Hamilton seems like a good use of a 2nd round pick to me.

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Whitehead is a talented, but erratic player. His 2-year 2PP under .400 is a huge negative. His turnovers are also too high. If he can get those things fixed, or at least improve his outside shot enough that he can do some 3/D work he has a chance, because his defensive and passing numbers are promising.

Malachi Richardson, Syracuse: Richardson is a Syracuse freshman who helped lead the team to a surprise final four appearance. He’s considered to be a mid-first round pick. As a prospect all his SG numbers are substandard, particularly the scoring efficiency, with his .388 2PP. While there is some leeway with freshman, it is better for prospects to top .500. This is a bright red flag. His P40 and RSB40 are also low.

Since Richardson is a freshman, the question is whether or not there was improvement during the season. If a freshman improves, it is easier to buy into him as a prospect even with the red flags. Here are his monthly splits:

Malachi Richardson 2PP 3PP P40 S40 A/TO RSB40
November 471 385 17.7 1.3 0.7 6.4
December 538 163 13.8 1.5 1.1 8.9
January 314 519 18.2 0.9 0.9 6.7
February 333 325 13.6 2.0 2.2 6.0
Mar-Apr 364 357 16.8 1.3 0.5 6.0

There wasn’t much improvement during the year, if anything there was some decline. Richardson’s overall numbers appear to be an accurate reflection of him as a prospect. He is young, but at 20 is closer in age to most sophomores so his upside isn’t as high as most freshman. It would be a leap of faith to draft Malachi Richardson in round 1.

Furkan Korkmaz, Anadolu Efes: He’s young and long. There are not a lot of numbers for Korkmaz. Those I have seen show some promise offensively, but weak enough defensively that he seems risky in round one. If he’s useful as a draft-and-stash to a team with multiple picks I could see using a late first rounder on him. But he is quite a ways away and his numbers are not that promising.

Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia: Brogdon has been a solid player for 4 years, but has always been just short of being serious prospect. His main problem has been he has never gotten the 2PP over .500. He was close this year at .498. Another negative is he’s a 5th-year senior who will turn 24 before the calendar turns to 2017.

There are some things to like about Brogdon though. He is big enough that he could likely play some effective minutes at SF. He’s an excellent passer and he has improved his outside shot to the point where it’s a strength. He does enough things well that the idea of Malcolm Brogdon becoming a useful NBA reserve isn’t a crazy one.

Michael Gbijne, Syracuse: Gbijne’s situation is like Brogdon’s. He’s a 5th-year senior who has some impressive numbers and some red flags. He’s big enough that he could play some SF and he passes well enough that he could run an offense on occasion. I would also say about Gbijne that while he doesn’t look like an NBA starter, I could certainly envision his diverse skills being useful off an NBA bench.

Wayne Selden, Kansas: Selden improved a lot this year, but is still nowhere near where he needs to be as a NBA prospect. His strength is passing. For 2 of his 3 seasons at Kansas he has been a very efficient, if low frequency scorer. Defense is weak and that’s the one thing that really sinks Selden as a prospect.

Damion Lee, Louisville: A 5th year senior who transferred from Drexel to play a season in the big time. His numbers at Louisville improved enough that he’s worth a mention here and a UFA invite to summer camp.

Jarelle Reischel, Eastern Kentucky: Reischel is another 5th-year senior who is worth a mention, but is also quite a longshot. EKU is his 3rd stop, following one year at Rice and 2 at Rhode Island. His numbers were terrific this year, if you ignore the high turnovers. Like Lee he showed enough that there are worse ideas than inviting him to play on your summer league roster for a look see.


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