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Jonathan Givony

Draft 2009

Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Unique group headlines this year's point guard draft class

By Jonathan Givony, for
Posted Jun 12 2009 9:33PM

While most pundits agree that the 2009 NBA Draft is fairly shallow in terms of star-power and overall depth, that certainly does not apply to this year's point guard class. As many as 13 point guards could get drafted in the first round, which would easily shatter the record. The most PGs taken up until this year was seven, in 2006.

What makes this group unique is how closely clustered together they are in terms of their draft stock more than any other year, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and each organization will likely target the type of point guard that best fits their system, existing personnel and overall philosophy.

With that in mind, let's look at the different types of point guards we have in this year's draft, in terms of the most attractive attribute they bring to the table.

Best Shot-Maker: Stephen Curry

The difference between a great shooter and a great shot-maker lies in a player's ability to go out and get his own shot. That's precisely what separates the great college scorers (see J.J. Redick, Adam Morrison) from the best pro prospects.

Unlike almost any other player in this draft, Stephen Curry might find it a lot easier getting his shot off in the NBA compared with his experience in college. The spacing is better, his teammates will actually pose a threat to opposing defenses, he won't be forced to deal with double and triple teams on every possession, and he might actually get a chance to set his feet for a jumper once in a while.

The experience Curry went through in college will make him a much better player in the NBA, where his shot-making ability and all-around feel for the game will make him a very valuable commodity.

Comparison: Mike Bibby

Best Court Vision: Ricky Rubio

Playing in a league where stat-keepers are far stingier handing out assists than on this side of the ocean, Ricky Rubio regardless found a way to lead all players in this draft by a huge margin in assists per-minute.

Watching him play, you regularly see him thread the needle on incredible passes from impossible angles, and do so without the slightest hint of indecision. Sometimes it leads to turnovers, but more often than not, he makes his teammates much better than they actually are by finding them right underneath the rim for easy buckets.

That alone will make him a very popular figure in his team's locker room right off the bat, and should ease his transition to the NBA significantly.

Comparison: Steve Nash

Best Leadership Skills: Jonny Flynn

Some players are just "born to be point guards," and no one in this draft fits that description better than Syracuse's Jonny Flynn.

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All of the players who saw their stock rise dramatically in the lead-up to draft night have a signature moment they can lean their hat on. Flynn's is undoubtedly the six-overtime win over UConn in the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden, where he scored 31 points in a game-high 67 minutes, willing his team to victory in one of the gutsiest performances we've ever witnessed in person.

Flynn is about as personable and charismatic a point guard as you'll find in this draft, being extremely upbeat around his teammates and sporting a great work ethic. He has a huge heart and plays the game with a chip on his shoulder, which is exactly what you would expect considering his small stature.

While there will always be reasons to doubt Flynn, he's definitely not the kind of guy you want to rule out. NBA teams have warmed up to him significantly over the past few months, to the point that he's now considered a likely top-10 pick.

Comparison: Jameer Nelson

Best Defender: Jrue Holiday

While his offensive output was certainly a disappointment in his lone season of college basketball, Holiday's performance on the defensive side of the ball never wavered.

Standing over 6-4 in shoes with long arms and a great frame, Holiday has the physical attributes and then some to defend either guard position. Moreover, he is extremely smart and intense on this end of the floor, showing great timing and excellent lateral quickness, to go along with his textbook fundamentals. That alone should get him minutes in the NBA right off the bat.

Comparison: Kirk Hinrich

Safest Bet: Darren Collison

Four trips to the NCAA tournament , three Final Four appearances, MVP of the Pac-10 Tournament, MVP of the Maui Invitational, numerous All-America, All-Pac-10, All-Defensive team honors. If NBA point guards were picked based on their resume, Darren Collison might be the top choice.

Unfortunately for Collison, he's not perceived to have the same combination of size, strength, scoring ability and upside that some other point guards in this draft do.

In terms of being the safest bet to develop into a solid pro, though, Collison clearly has all the makings of a terrific backup, as he rarely turns the ball, plays excellent defense, and shoots a high percentage from the field and beyond the arc.

For a team drafting in the bottom half of the first round where nearly 50% of all players picked historically are out of the league, or barely hanging on,five years after being drafted -- he has to be looking pretty attractive, even if the strength of this year's point guard class may push him down a bit.

Comparison: Steve Blake

Most Clutch: Eric Maynor

Eric Maynor's penchant for late-game heroics is well documented just ask Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski about the game-winning shot he hit against them in the NCAA tournament in 2007. That was just another in a long line of huge shots made by Eric Maynor when his team needed them most.

His cold-blooded poise has been compared by some NBA scouts to that of Sam Cassell, and like Cassell, Maynor clearly doesn't fit the prototype of what teams typically look for when drafting point guards, as he has short arms, a narrow frame, ugly shooting mechanics, and underwhelming athleticism.

Maynor's stock has been dropping somewhat as he's struggled in the very formulaic setting of NBA private workouts, as teams mostly see his glaring flaws there, and tend to forget about his very unique strengths, which only really come out in five on five setting.

Even if he drops on draft night, don't be surprised to see him step up and make some huge plays down the stretch a couple of years down the road, though, maybe even in a playoff series.

Comparison: Derek Fisher

Most Potential: Brandon Jennings

He's 6-2, with long arms, crazy athleticism, a flair for the spectacular, and excellent scoring instincts. And he's only 19 years old...In terms of pure talent, it's tough not to rank Brandon Jennings at the top of this year's point guard class.

Unfortunately for him, he's almost a complete unknown to most NBA GMs, as they were not able to watch him play in high school, and struggled to get a great feel for what he brings to the table in Europe in limited minutes and an even more limited role.

Still, it's impossible not to get excited about Jennings' upside, and it shouldn't surprise anyone if he ends up making the team that drafts him incredibly excited in two to three years.

Comparison: Tony Parker

Best Value: Sergio Llull

While most of the hype in Europe these days revolves around Ricky Rubio, there is actually another draft-eligible point guard coming from Spain that is a pretty intriguing prospect in his own right.

21-year old Sergio LLull has slowly, but surely been developing into a terrific player for Real Madrid, this season seeing a great deal of quality playing time and contributing for them in a major way.

Llull has good physical attributes for the NBA, including excellent size and above-average athleticism. He brings great energy to the floor and really gets after it defensively. He's also a much improved perimeter shooter and decision maker, appearing to be one of those late-bloomers who still has upside to grow into.

Llull's contract restrictions will likely prevent him from going in the first round, but considering his NBA-friendly profile combined with his sheer productivity at the highest levels of European basketball, he could develop into a steal for someone down the road as a second round pick.

Comparison: Jose Calderon

Other Categories:

Most Versatile: Tyreke Evans -- Evans can defend three positions and is a nightmare matchup for most opponents with his outstanding size and length.

Best Pedigree: Ty Lawson -- Lawson won the NCAA championship and was likely the best point guard in college basketball this year.

Best Stat-Stuffer: Lester Hudson -- Hudson is the only player in NCAA history to post a quadruple double, and was an absolute force as a scorer/rebounder and ball-thief in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Best Pick and Roll Passer: Nick Calathes -- At 6-5, Calathes broke every assist record at the University of Florida as a freshman and sophomore, but will be playing next season in Greece.

Biggest Sleeper: Rodrigue Beaubois -- French player has many teams intrigued with his terrific combination of length and athleticism.

Best Speed in the Open Floor: Patrick Mills -- Drew rave reviews from the likes of Chris Paul and Coach K for his performance against Team USA in the Beijing Olympics last summer, in large part thanks to his outstanding quickness.

Best Toughness: Toney Douglas -- ACC defender of the year is an excellent athlete who is not afraid to get in an opponent's face, which has helped his draft stock rise dramatically as of late.

Jonathan Givony is President and Director of Scouting of Draft Express. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer.

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