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NBA Draft Preview Part IV: Shooting Guards

Taking a look at the top shooting guard prospects available in the upcoming draft

The NBA Draft is right around the corner so the time has come to take an in-depth look at the players hoping to hear their names called out by Commissioner David Stern on the night of June 28. To help with the process, Rockets.com is once again enlisting the help of NBA draft expert Jim Clibanoff.

The formula is simple: our man Clibs will team up with our own Jason Friedman to break down the draft position by position, offering his thoughts on the top prospects, while sprinkling in a few feelings on some lesser known players who might be worth a closer look in the draft’s later stages.

Today’s feature focuses on the shooting guard position. Click here to check out Part 1 of the series in which we examined the players available at the center position, click here for Part 2 and a look at the top power forwards, and here for Part 3 for a breakdown of the small forward position. One final note: players' height (with shoes) and weight are taken, when possible, from the NBA’s combine measurements.

Bradley Beal, Fr., Florida

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 4.75'', Weight: 201.8, Wingspan: 6' 8'', Standing Reach: 8' 3''

Basic stats: 14.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.4 spg, .445 FG%, .769 FT%, .339 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Spot-ups: .967 points per possession (61st percentile), Transition: 1.27 ppp (80th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .697 ppp (39th percentile), Isolations: .93 ppp (80th percentile), Cuts: .971 ppp (25th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: 1.014 ppp (32nd percentile), Off screen: .432 ppp (93rd percentile), Isolations: .722 ppp (53rd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .676 ppp (62nd percentile)

Clib’s take: When we talked about some of the small forwards yesterday, we talked about one-and-done guys and how they need to develop on-court identities and that some of them will need maturity-based support as well. This player is a flipside to that. This is an NBA ready guy, despite playing just one season at the college level.

Bradley Beal takes the game as it comes to him. He was known as a better shooter in high school, but I think you can look beyond his respectable three-point percentage atFloridaand assume that he will be better at the next level. He’ll work to cure his deficiencies.

He’ll be able to fit in wherever he goes. I give him a ton of credit for playing with shot-happy guards atFloridaand not getting rattled at all. In fact, when he didn’t have the ball in his hands he picked up a ton of rebounds for a guy his size. He just has that smooth flow to his game. He doesn’t get rattled. He’s just a smart, savvy guy.

I think a good comparison in terms of his shooting and scoring profile is Eric Gordon, someone who didn’t shoot it that well during his one year atIndianabut he shoots it better as a pro and he’s a 20-point scorer in the league. We’re really high on Bradley Beal.

There was some concern about how tall he was. Around this time of year, that seems to be such an issue for some people. But if a guy has really long arms and he plays smart and he’s got physical strength, I don’t care if he’s 6-3, 6-4 or 6-5. Dwyane Wade is 6-4 but he’s strong and smart and knows how to play. Eric Gordon, there was a question about his height coming into the draft but it doesn’t really matter if a guy can flat out score like he can. So if you want to like a guy, you accept him for what he is. And if you want to disparage him, you bring up the height thing. Bradley Beal can flat out play. Simple as that.

Jeremy Lamb, Soph., Connecticut

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 5.25'', Weight: 179.2, Wingspan: 6' 11'', Standing Reach: 8' 5''

Basic stats: 17.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.2 spg, .478 FG%, .810 FT%, .336 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Spot-ups: 1.113 points per possession (81st percentile), Transition: 1.28 ppp (81st percentile), Off-screen: 1.112 (78th percentile), Isolations: .747 ppp (50th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .824 ppp (64th percentile), Cuts: 1.429 points per possession (91st percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .819 ppp (68th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .736 ppp (51st percentile), Isolations: .683 ppp (60th percentile), Off-screens: .596 ppp (84th percentile)

Clib’s take: I was afraid that he might have received overly inflated stock after the fine run he had during UConn’s NCAA tournament run in 2011. But that concern subsided in my head when he went out and led theUSA basketball team during the summer in points per game, and then started out this past season very well, too.

He’s definitely a flat out scorer; more a scorer than a pure shooter. He’s got great length. He can put the ball on the floor, though he still needs to sharpen that part of his game to better prepare himself for the pros.

The big thing I want to see with Jeremy Lamb is for him to be a versatile NBA scorer. That means he’s going to need to get to the free throw line more to take advantage of his excellent shooting from the charity stripe. I don’t want to see him degenerate into just a jump shooter. As he gets stronger he should be able to become more of a slasher with more of a physical presence. I think he’s maybe a Marshon Brooks kind of player as far as length and ability to score that will translate.

Dion Waiters, Soph., Syracuse

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 4'', Weight: 221, Wingspan: 6' 7.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 2''

Basic stats: 12.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.8 spg, .476 FG%, .729 FT%, .363 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: 1.43 ppp (92nd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .891 ppp (75th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.012 ppp (69th percentile), Isolations: .839 ppp (67th percentile), Off-screens: .903 ppp (50th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .753 ppp (77th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .719 ppp (54th percentile)

Clib’s take: This guy is a flat outPhiladelphia scorer. He’s a guy with a great physical aggression and toughness. Scoring is the one thing that will absolutely translate for him at the next level.

When I first saw him in high school he was more of a scoring point guard. AtSyracusehe became more of a decent passing two guard and I think that will be more his identity at the pro level. He won’t be in there to get you a ton of assists and rebounds; he’ll be in there to outscore his opponents.

What’s going to be critical in his development is seeing how good of a defender he can be. A lot of young players with these kinds of offensive gifts concern themselves more with getting their buckets rather than shutting their man down. If Dion Waiters puts in the time and effort to make sure he does both, then he has a chance to be special.

Austin Rivers, Fr., Duke

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 5'', Weight: 202.8, Wingspan: 6' 7.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 1''

Basic stats: 15.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.0 spg, .433 FG%, .658 FT%, .365 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .951 ppp (84th percentile), Isolations: .824 ppp (65th percentile), Transition: 1.125 ppp (61st percentile), Spot-ups: .761 points per possession (31st percentile), Hand-offs: 1.229 ppp (88th percentile) Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .65 ppp (66th percentile), Isolations: .76 ppp (46th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.0 ppp (35th percentile), Off-screens: .686 ppp (77th percentile)

Jason’s take: The first thing that stands out to me when I examine Austin Rivers’ game is that, even as a freshman, he established himself as one of the college game’s most proficient practitioners of the pick-and-roll. That’s obviously significant when projecting his pro potential because there will always be a place for players who know how to expertly make the most of the NBA’s core offensive play.

Rivers will be able to score; of that there should be very little doubt. He has the skill, quickness, confidence and pedigree necessary to make teams feel positive about his prospects of becoming a real weapon at the next level.

For me, there are two things I’ll be following closely during the early stages of Rivers’ NBA career: 1.) Will he be best utilized as an instant offense guy off the bench, allowing him to have the ball in his hands as much as he desires, while also freeing him of the responsibility to be a franchise savior of sorts, and 2.) Can he hone and refine his considerable savvy and scoring instincts in such a way that lends itself to winning basketball, rather than allowing himself to become just another gunner whose numbers look great while his team’s record remains lackluster? How Rivers answers those questions -- especially the latter -- will go a long way in determining whether or not we one day look back and consider the Duke product one of the steals of the 2012 draft.

Terrence Ross, Soph., Washington

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 7'', Weight: 196.6, Wingspan: 6' 7.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 5''

Basic stats: 16.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.3 spg, .457 FG%, .774 FT%, .371 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Spot-ups: 1.157 ppp (84th percentile), Isolations: .916 ppp (78th percentile), Transition: .889 ppp (25th percentile), Off-screens: .959 ppp (58th percentile), Cuts: 1.326 ppp (81st percentile), Post-ups: 1.088 points per possession (92nd percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .646 ppp (88th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .686 pp (60th percentile), Isolations: .538 ppp (81st percentile)

Jason’s take: There’s an awful lot to like about Terrence Ross. He’s got great height for the position, is an explosive, smooth athlete and he can stroke it from long range. Check out his Synergy numbers and it quickly becomes clear that he can score in several different ways as well.

Of course, anyone possessing that sort of overall package is going to be beholden to big time expectations which is why it’s not terribly surprising that the largest criticism levied at Ross seems to always be that the people watching him simply want more. No question, he needs to improve his ball handling so that he can create more off the dribble for both himself and his future teammates, he needs to get stronger and he definitely needs to get to the free throw line more with far more frequency (he averaged fewer than 3 free throw attempts per game this past season with Washington). But while it’s fair to want more from Ross, it’s also important to remember all of the things he already brings to the table. There simply aren’t too many players possessing the all-around profile he does.

Doron Lamb, Soph., Kentucky

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 4.75'', Weight: 199.4, Wingspan: 6' 6.75'', Standing Reach: 8' 3''

Basic stats: 13.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, .5 spg, 474 FG%, .826 FT%, .466 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Spot-ups: 1.34 points per possession (94th percentile), Transition: 1.25 ppp (79th percentile), Off-screens: .914 ppp (52nd percentile), Hand-offs: 1.133 ppp (83rd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: 1.026 ppp (90th percentile)

Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .955 ppp (16th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.227 ppp (11th percentile), Isolations: .568 ppp (77th percentile), Off-screens: .561 ppp (86th percentile)

Jason’s take: For the vast majority of college players making the transition to the pros, the key element tied to their success lies in their ability to make the adjustment from being ‘the man’ to becoming more of a role player. From that standpoint, Lamb should be ahead of the curve as he successfully showed that he was more than able to seamlessly blend in with NBA caliber talent during his time playing on a stackedKentucky squad. Lamb made the most of the wide-open looks he received, knocking down spot-up jumpers from beyond the arc at an exceptional rate. He’ll need to put in significant work on the defensive end if he plans on earning playing time early on, but for teams who value shooting in their shooting guards, Lamb will undoubtedly earn a long, hard look.

Will Barton, Soph., Memphis

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 6'', Weight: 174.4, Wingspan: 6' 9.75'', Standing Reach: 8' 7''

Basic stats: 18.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 spg, .509 FG%, .749 FT%, .346 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: 1.377 points per possession (89th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.11 ppp (80th percentile), Isolation: .58 ppp (24th percentile), Cuts: 1.432 ppp (91st percentile), Off-screens: .651 ppp (19th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: 1.097 ppp (94th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: 1.024 ppp (31st percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .55 ppp (81st percentile), Isolations: .438 ppp (91st percentile), Off-screens: 1.156 ppp (20th percentile)

Clib’s take: This is a very unique player in that he averaged 8 rebounds a game and was a good assist guy for his position as well. He has a sort of playground feel to his game that’s either going to have to develop and mature to play NBA basketball, or he’s going to have to go to the right NBA team that will embrace him for what he is and just allow him to go out there, make plays and make things happen. He needs some seasoning and I could see great benefit in him spending some time in the D-league so that he can refine his game and make more of an impact when all is said and done.

John Jenkins, Jr., Vanderbilt

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 4.25'', Weight: 212, Wingspan: 6' 8.5'', Standing Reach: 8' 3.5''

Basic stats: 19.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 apg, .8 spg, .474 FG%, .837 FT%, .439 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Spot-ups: 1.319 points per possession (93rd percentile), Off-screens: 1.07 ppp (73rd percentile), Transition: 1.385 ppp (90th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: 1.025 ppp (90th percentile), Hand-offs: 1.0 ppp (68th percentile), Isolations: 1.065 ppp (92nd percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .955 ppp (43rd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .914 ppp (22nd percentile), Isolations: .707 ppp (55th percentile)

Clib’s take: Absolutely the best pure shooter in the draft regardless of position. I used to hold it against him that he didn’t get more assists or rebounds because I wanted more versatility but I’ve come to accept that there are certain guys who make their role not as shooting guards or point guards or small forwards, but instead play a position simply known as “shooter.” Jenkins will fit that bill very well.

I liken him somewhat to a guy like J.J. Redick; they’re both pure shooters, although Redick has, over time, done more off the dribble and become a better defensive player than I thought he would.

There’s definitely a place for Jenkins in this draft. If a team has a specific need for a pure marksman, this is your guy.

Jared Cunningham, Jr., Oregon State

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 5'', Weight: 187.6, Wingspan: 6' 6.5'', Standing Reach: 8' 2''

Basic stats: 17.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.5 spg, .450 FG%, .737 FT%, .338 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Spot-ups: .866 points per possession (46th percentile), Transition: 1.336 points per possession (87th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .688 ppp (37th percentile), Cuts: 1.305 ppp (79th percentile), Isolations: .772 ppp (56th percentile), Hand-offs: 1.024 ppp (71st percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: 1.059 ppp (27th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .847 ppp (31st percentile), Isolation: .678 ppp (60th percentile), Off-screens: .897 ppp (49th percentile)

Clib’s take: He’s a little bit under the radar, but Cunningham is a guy who’s really made a lot of progress on the defensive end; he’s one of the national leaders in steals per game.

Jared Cunningham is a very graceful, smooth and elegant athlete. I think people could be sleeping on him and he could be a very good value selection.

Is he a point? Is he a two? I don’t know, he’s just a guard. The fact that he can defend helps, as does the fact that he should be able to defend players at both guard positions in certain matchups. His ability to play both ends of the floor could really play in his favor long-term over some of the guys who are going to get drafted before him.

Orlando Johnson, Sr., UC-Santa Barbara

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 5.25'', Weight: 223.8, Wingspan: 6' 11.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 3''

Basic stats: 19.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.1 spg, .451 FG%, .698 FT%, .427 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Isolations: 1.025 points per possession (90th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.136 ppp (83rd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .808 ppp (61st percentile), Transition: 1.286 ppp (82nd percentile), Post-ups: .848 ppp (60th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .853 ppp (62nd percentile), Isolations: .75 ppp (48th percentile)

Clib’s take: He’s a seasoned player; a fifth-year senior. He’s not an above-the-rim guy so he’s not a sexy name, but he could be a Keith Bogans type who sticks around for a long time because he work his butt off to give you whatever you need. He’s got strength, he’s got savvy, he knows how to score. He’s not a selfish player at all.

But what I really like about him is that he’s overcome a ton of adversity in life and he’s a true person. Just to give you an example of what I mean: at a workout last year I saw him work the room and genuinely take an interest in meeting other people as a real person, instead of some of these manufactured guys who are taught what to say. He lost family members in a fire earlier in his life. He lived with his brothers when his grandmother passed away. I think his ability to overcome life’s obstacles will really benefit him when he’s got to battle to make a roster spot and earn playing time. So while he’s flying under the radar now, I think he’s got a real chance to have a long NBA career.