Teams follow one of two selection theories when making their choices -- drafting according to need or drafting the best available player regardless of position. We're here to help with the first option through a weekly series of position comparisons, ranked and evaluated by NBA.com's Draft analyst, Brad Greenberg.
Greenberg brings 22 years of successful NBA and NCAA management and coaching experience to NBA.com as our player personnel expert. His roles included eight years in the personnel department of the Portland Trail Blazers and a stint as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. It was during Greenberg's tenure that the Sixers drafted league MVP Allen Iverson. He is currently serving as the director of basketball operations at the University of South Florida.
Duke's Jay Williams was projected to be the No. 1 pick -- in last year's draft. With another year of experience, he's still the most coveted playmaker available, even though a certain Chinese tower has stolen much of the pre-draft hype.
Following are the top 10 guards available in NBA Draft 2002:
JAY WILLIAMS Status: Junior Height: 6-2 Weight: 195 College: Duke
Constantly pushing the playmaking and shotmaking envelope, Williams is the Chuck Yaeger of college point guards. Tough to guard and ultra-competitive, Williams has NBA three-point range and can also get to the rim going left or right. He has a quick release and appears to have serious pick and roll potential. When not handling to create for himself or others he has shown a good feel for moving without the ball to get open.
Crafty, instinctive and aggressive, Williams puts constant pressure on defenders to offset being a little more turnover prone than you would like. He wears the defense down with his offensive persistence.
Defensively, Williams has the potential to cover and bother out on the floor and definitely posesses the strength and mental toughness to handle NBA-quality starters. Just 6-2, he will not bother bigger handlers who can shoot off the dribble. However, he will be able to match up against the majority of guards getting serious minutes at the point. He can start for the right team as a rookie and most scouts feel he is a future All-Star.
Tough to guard and physically mature, Wagner is a scorer who can get by his man and loves to shoot pull-up jumpers in the lane. He has NBA three-point range, a sophisticated handle and the potential to be a very tough pick and roll cover. Competitive and driven, he averaged 21 points a game last year as a freshman, but was not as efficient a shooter as he will have to become to fulfill most scouts' expectations.
Wagner has displayed solid court vision and seems capable of creating not only for himself but for others as well. He works at the defensive end and is capable of keeping a quick guard in front. At a shade over 6-2 he is a bit non-traditional for full-time big guard duty but his grit and basketball instinct will enable him to evolve into an effective and productive NBA guard.
One of the better college players in the country moving off screens to shoot, Rush is an athletic lefty with very good big guard size. He has some one-on-one scoring ability and loves to use his dribble to set up a step-back jumper. He has shooting range and NBA three-point potential but needs to become a more consistent shooter.
Rush did not have a great season last year at Mizzou and he needs to continue to develop his floor game. Regardless, he has the size, athletic ability and scoring versatility to figure prominently in the first half of the first round. An added bonus to his resume is his ability to matchup at more than one position. Some scouts liken him to a bigger Morris Peterson.
FRANK WILLIAMS Status: Junior Height: 6-3 Weight: 205 College: Illinois
Clever and skilled with a solid feel for the game, Williams has the size to be become an effective combo guard. Williams is good with the ball and is among the best guards in the draft at getting to the basket. While he doesn’t possess great speed, he has excellent court awareness and instincts.
Developing consistency and improving his outside shot are areas Williams needs to improve. He has taken over college games during his career at Illinois, but has also been criticized for vanishing at times. Defensively his frame, strength, strong hands and basketball IQ should enable him to develop into a solid defender, but once again he needs to show a consistent defensive effort as he will have much tougher match-ups with quicker more talented pros than his usual college matchup.
ROGER MASON Status: Junior Height: 6-5 Weight: 199 College: Virginia
Well rounded and fairly explosive, Mason is a combo guard who reminds some of Sixer Aaron McKie. With scoring ability and some experience making plays for others, he projects to eventually play more than one position. He is more of a big guard scorer right now but his passing skills are above average.
Tough and strong, Mason needs to improve his handle and become a more difficult one-on-one cover. He is already a good spot-up shooter but will need to sharpen his ability to create off the dribble. His frame and athletic ability will enable him to eventually match up against NBA big guards.
JUAN DIXON Status: Senior Height: 6-3 Weight: 165 College: Maryland
Toughness, stamina, heart and above average basketball IQ define some of what Dixon is all about. Some people might worry about his lack of girth and size, but he has a competitive fire that more than compensates for his lack of measurable stature.
Dixon is one of the most competitive players in this draft and he will find a way to contribute for a NBA team. Wiry, strong and quick into the passing lane, he will be able to bother defensively. Mentally mature, he will evolve into more of a playmaker in time. Some scouts worry about where he will play and his true NBA position, but he is a proven winner. His advocates liken him to Orlando’s Darrell Armstrong.
DAN DICKAU Status: Senior Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 College: Gonzaga
Dickeau had a great senior season and is a very good shooter, but he is not a pure point guard and nor as quick as John Stockton or Steve Nash. He was a scoring point guard in college with the ability to create, but can he get by a good quick NBA defender? There is a big difference between the NBA and the West Coast Conference.
Perhaps some better comparisons for Dickau might be Steve Kerr or BJ Armstrong.
Scouts that don’t believe in him compare him to Bryce Drew. Dickau’s strength, like Armstrong and Kerr, is shooting and like Kerr, he has NBA three-point range. He is more of a specialist than a prime-time guard prospect but he as good as players already on NBA rosters and should be able to carve out a niche for himself on a team next year.
The question on drafting Jacobsen comes down to whether you believe a big guard prospect with toughness, size and a sweet stroke can compensate for some quickness, speed and physical deficiencies. He is a good fit for a team with a low post threat that needs shooters to stretch the defense. He is a good fit for a coach that employs a system to get shooters open.
Jacobsen needs to keep improving his handle and he will need to focus intently on improving his defense. While not as tall or athletic as Mike Miller, he does compare very favorably to competent veteran specialist Eric Piatkowski.
FRED JONES Status: Senior Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 College: Oregon
Jones has enough NBA-calibre attributes to be on a roster next season and is a legit first round prospect. He has a high basketball IQ, as well as NBA spring, quickness, strength and explosiveness. He is capable of making plays at both ends of the floor and uses his athleticism at the offensive end to drive and finish aggressively. He has a solid enough handle to get to the basket and his upper body strength enables him to be a strong finisher and also enables him to create angles for offensive putbacks.
Jones understands situations at both ends of the floor and is a high character person. He reminds some people of a smaller Desmond Mason. He has defensive potential but needs to develop more consistency with his effort at this end of the floor. He is somewhat of a “sleeper” and could develop into a solid big guard if he can build off a very strong finish to his senior season.
STEVE LOGAN Yeah: Senior Height: 6-0 Weight: 195 College: Cincinnati
His coach, Bob Huggins, describes Logan’s deceptive ability to control his defender this way: “You can’t speed him up and you can’t slow him down.” Sophisticated basketball heads appreciate players who can move their defender with savvy change of direction and change of pace dribble moves.
Logan was as good as any player in America last year in deceptively and efficiently controlling games at the offensive end of the floor. He will play in the league because he is tough, confident, deceptively quick, can get a team into their offense, can put pressure on a team with pick and roll, can hit a NBA three-pointer or a driving pro lay-up and is willing and able to make clutch field goals. His only real problem, and it is a significant one, is that he is a short 6-0. But he has all the intangibles. At worst he will be a back-up guard in the league.