NBA Draft Preview Part V: Point Guards
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 point 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, here for Part 3 for a breakdown of the small forward position, and here for Part 4 and a breakdown of the best shooting guards. One final note: players' height (with shoes) and weight are taken, when possible, from the NBA’s combine measurements.
Damian Lillard, Jr., Weber St.
Combine measurements: Height: 6' 2.75'', Weight: 188.8, Wingspan: 6' 7.75'', Standing Reach: 8' 0''
Basic stats: 24.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.5 spg, .467 FG%, .887 FT%, .409 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: 1.223 points per possession (75th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: 1.039 ppp (91st percentile) Isolation: .94 ppp (81st percentile), Off screens: 1.324 ppp (92nd percentile), Spot-ups: 1.388 ppp (96th percentile)
Defense: Spot-ups: 1.033 ppp (30th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .776 ppp (44th percentile), Isolations: .537 ppp (81st percentile), Off screens: 1.189 ppp (17th percentile)
Clib’s take: I’m very much a Lillard guy. I’ve been into him his whole career and his 38-point game I saw atPortlandState in January sealed the deal. He’s a good guy, plays under control with composed athleticism. He’s a fine shooter who gets to his spots for midrange offense and a crafty slasher. He also has the tools to be a very good defensive player. He should transition into being a long-time starting point guard. I think he’s definitely worth a top-10 pick.
His background checks out as well. He’s a hard worker. I can see him deferring to good talent; not so much that he’ll take a back seat, but when you’ve got a guy who’s such a prolific collegiate scorer, you wonder if he can be reprogrammed or at least be able to incorporate more of a pass-scorer dichotomy and I really do think he can – he’ll be able to assume both roles. Believe it or not, despite scoring 24 points per game, he was a very willing passer who worked to get his teammates involved. He didn’t try to put the whole team on his shoulders all the time. He tried to make his team better and they were – Weber was a good team.
I can just see him fitting in with grown men. He’s mature on the court and a no-nonsense guy. I read articles that mentioned while he sat out his redshirt season he really worked on all the aspects of his game. He was supportive from the bench and he learned more about the game while he was not playing, and those are just key things to look for about a guy who I feel with certainty is going to get it when he puts on an NBA uniform. He’s a guy who’s going to continue to get better and learn the game and when it all starts to click he should be a solid scorer and assist producer.
Kendall Marshall, Soph., North Carolina
Combine measurements: Height 6' 4.25'', Weight: 198.4, Wingspan: 6' 5.5'', Standing Reach: 7’ 10.5''
Basic stats: 8.1 ppg, 9.8 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 spg, .467 FG%, .696 FT%, .354 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Isolation: .939 points per possession (81st percentile), Transition: .857 ppp (22nd percentile), Spot-up: 1.143 ppp (83rd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .601 ppp (27th percentile)
Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .777 ppp (44th percentile), Spot-ups: .97 ppp (41st percentile), Isolations: .836 ppp (33rd percentile) percentile)
Clib’s take: I don’t want to use a term like “once in a generation” but Kendall Marshall and Scott Machado are two of the best pure passing player prospects I’ve seen in a long, long time.
At the same time, they are somewhat specialists and you rarely see a specialist endorsed as such because of his distribution; you see them as shot blockers or scorers or defenders or pure shooters, but here we’re talking about a guy who can see plays before they develop, a guy whose unselfish nature can sometimes permeate the entire roster. How you integrate that player, you’ve got to make sure early on that you don’t need much offense from that guy. But look at a guy like Ricky Rubio; people wondered if he was going to be able to score at the NBA level because he wasn’t a prolific scorer, or even a very good scorer in the ACB inSpain. But just by sheer knowledge of how to play and by pedigree, Rubio as a rookie was a respectable scorer and you can see him building on that in the future.
With Kendall Marshall, the obvious questions are is he quick enough, can he score, can he shoot, and that little stretch he put together at the end of his college career showed that, if given the opportunity, he can get buckets. For some guys, it’s all about understanding their role and accepting that role and not doing things that they can’t. So there’s clearly a spot for a guy like Kendall Marshall. I think the question is can he be an NBA starting point guard within the first year or two of his career, and obviously where he’s selected and the composition of the team will be critical to that.
Tony Wroten Jr., Fr., Washington
Combine measurements: Height: 6' 6'', Weight: 203.2, Wingspan: 6' 9'', Standing Reach: 8' 5''
Basic stats: 16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.9 spg, .443 FG%, .583 FT%, .161 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: .89 points per possession (26th percentile), Isolations: .763 ppp (53rd percentile), Spot-ups: .69 ppp (23rd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .641 ppp (30th percentile), Cuts: 1.0 ppp (29th percentile)
Defense: Spot-ups: 1.057 ppp (27th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .69 ppp (60th percentile), Isolations: .468 ppp (88th percentile)
Jason’s take: From a physical standpoint, Wroten has pretty much everything you could ever want out of a point guard. He’s long, strong and a plus athlete, and having only just recently turned 19-years-old, the Washington product obviously has seemingly unlimited room for growth. And his growth going forward will prove key because, for all of Wroten’s vast potential, he is far from a finished product. Improvement begins with a dedication to fixing his jumper and, just as importantly, vigilance in learning and mastering the fundamentals of playing his position. It may be that Wroten’s NBA destiny is as more of a combo guard rather than a pure point. But even if that turns out to be the case, Wroten is still capable of providing immense value should he tap into the promise he possesses as a potential defensive dynamo and a player capable of making game-changing plays on the offensive end.
Marquis Teague, Fr., Kentucky
Combine measurements: Height: 6' 2'', Weight: 179.8, Wingspan: 6' 7.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 2.5''
Basic stats: 10.0 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2.5 rpg, .9 spg, .412 FG%, .714 FT%, .325 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: .972 points per possession (37th percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .767 ppp (53rd percentile), Spot-ups: .747 ppp (29th percentile), Isolations: .689 ppp (41st percentile)
Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .557 ppp (81st percentile), Spot-ups: .946 ppp (45th percentile), Isolations: .533 ppp (82nd percentile)
Clib’s take: Like some of the otherKentucky guys we’ve talked about, it can be tough to accurately evaluate a player like Teague just because of all the top-notch talent on that Wildcats roster. We didn’t see Teague’s entire repertoire because a lot of his quickness, speed and breakdown-ability were kind of kept under wraps because the floor had to be spread and everyone had to have a sufficient number of touches.
The stage was set for Marquis Teague to return as a sophomore and really nail it, but now he’s heading to the pros and it will be a challenge for him early on to really run an NBA team. I would like to think as an upside scenario that he could somewhat duplicate the success that Kyle Lowry had after two years at Villanova when I similarly thought the stage was set for him to nail it if he’d returned for his junior year. As Rockets fans know, Lowry progressed very nicely over time and has become a very successful NBA point guard. But it does take time and it will take Teague time, too. So again, I think the D-League is a perfect place for a young player like this to learn what it takes to make his team run and to make his team go.
Tyshawn Taylor, Sr., Kansas
Combine measurements: Height: 6' 4'', Weight: 177.0, Wingspan: 6' 6.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 1.5''
Basic stats: 16.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 spg, .477 FG%, .688 FT%, .382 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .838 ppp (66th percentile), Transition: 1.131 points per possession (62nd percentile), Spot-ups: 1.057 ppp (74th percentile), Isolations: .941 ppp (82st percentile)
Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .594 ppp (76th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.127 ppp (18th percentile), Isolations: .486 ppp (87th percentile)
Jason’s take: There appears to be a lot of discussion about whether or not Tyshawn Taylor is an NBA point guard, but the answer to that question seems less important to me than it may be to others. As best I can tell,Taylor would do well to ignore the chatter attempting to pigeonhole him into one position or the other and focus instead on trying to maximize his potential by following the blueprint laid out by combo guards such as Jason Terry and Lou Williams. Like those scoring, playmaking specialists, Taylor is capable of making plays off the dribble, hitting perimeter spot-up looks and certainly does not lack for confidence. TheKansas product also has enough size to make himself a valuable and versatile player on the defensive end. Sure, he might not be the guy you want running your offense full time, but that doesn’t mean Tyshawn Taylor can’t carve out a quality NBA career as a key producer on the right team.
Scott Machado, Sr., Iona
Combine measurements: Height: 6' 2'', Weight: 205.8, Wingspan: 6' 4'', Standing Reach: 7' 9.5''
Basic stats: 13.6 ppg, 9.9 apg, 4.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, .495 FG%, .811 FT%, .404 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: 1.194 points per possession (72nd percentile), Pick-and-roll ball handler: .855 ppp (69th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.241 ppp (90th percentile), Isolations: .821 ppp (64th percentile)
Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: 1.184 ppp (4th percentile), Spot-ups: .831 ppp (66th percentile), Isolations: 1.0 ppp (11th percentile)
Clib’s take: I first got to know Machado as a junior. I saw him play in person and thought, “Wow, this guy can really pass the ball.” He saw players out there that I wasn’t even seeing. This year I saw him have a 15 point, 15 assist, zero turnover game againstMaryland in November in person, and when you see him in person he comes across as even more impressive.
He doesn’t have blow-by quickness; he has serviceable speed and quickness and acceleration, but his ability to see plays as they develop is special and I shudder to think what he would have been able to do with elite talent around him. He gets the ball out in transition and he’s somewhat of a magician with the rock. And it’s not always with the fancy plays; sometimes it’s just knowing what’s going to happen or even making the hockey assist. Like we said about Kendall Marshall the same holds true here with Machado: sometimes that unselfish nature can penetrate into the whole personality of a team.
He’s not the greatest defensive player and he’s not the greatest pure shooter; those are certainly question marks. And when we talk about a specialist, it’s probably easier to accept a specialist as a second or third string point guard, as opposed to a starter. You’ve got guys like Kevin Ollie who’ve made careers out of being serviceable offense runners and I really think Machado can do that at the very least.
In an uptempo system, he’s a helluva lot of fun to watch play. When you don’t need shots to impact the game, that makes you special, and high-octane offense teams want that guy who’s going to get them easier shots and that’s what Machado can get you: not just good looks, but easier looks.
Tu Holloway, Sr., Xavier
Combine measurements: Height: 5' 11.75'', Weight: 186.8, Wingspan: 6' 5.5'', Standing Reach: 7' 10.5''
Basic stats: 17.5 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 spg, .429 FG%, .862 FT%, .346 3-PT%
Synergy stats of note: Offense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .924 ppp (80th percentile), Transition: 1.274 points per possession (81st percentile), Spot-ups: .947 ppp (58th percentile), Isolations: .875 ppp (72nd percentile)
Defense: Pick-and-roll ball handler: .634 ppp (69th percentile), Spot-ups: .79 ppp (73rd percentile), Isolations: .811 ppp (37th percentile), Off screens: .907 ppp (47th percentile)
Clib’s take: He’s got this toughness, this confident toughness that I think could work at the NBA level. I want him to be like Aaron Brooks, although Brooks has that extra gear, that knifing acceleration that Holloway doesn’t have. He also has a little bit of Kyle Lowry bulldog to him as well, but he’s not Kyle Lowry. So he’s got these junior versions of Lowry and Brooks, so I guess the question is if you don’t have what they have in abundance, are you going to have enough to get by? I think Holloway can at least be a third-string point guard and then work his way up over time. And if you can get that piece to your puzzle in the 40s or 50s on draft night then that could be a nice pickup for you.