2018 Draft Position Preview: Guards

Breaking Down the Backcourt Stars Who Could Don the Wine & Gold on Draft Night
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Managing Editor


2018 Draft Position Preview: Guards

Breaking Down the Backcourt Stars Who Could Don the Wine & Gold on Draft Night

The Wine & Gold will be on the clock when the 8th overall pick rolls around tonight at the Barclays Center.

As the day draws nigh, Cavs.com breaks down some of the players who could be available as the Cavs brass makes their decision – focusing today on some the best backcourt prospects from this year’s class.

This quintet features the most prolific scoring and assist man in the NCAA last season, one of the fastest end-to-end players we’ve seen in a while and a rangy Canadian who seems to be just scratching the surface as we break down what the scouts are saying about some of the top guards who are just hours away from realizing their hoop dreams in New York ...

Left-Right: SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER, ZHAIRE SMITH, TRAE YOUNG, LONNIE WALKER, COLLIN SEXTON


SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER6-6, 180 – Born: July 12, 1998 – (Toronto, ON) – College: Kentucky – Showed major improvement over the course of the season at Kentucky – averaged 14.4 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.1 rebounds and upped those numbers to averages of 20.6 points, 6.3 assists and 5.6 boards per in six combined games in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments; versatility allows him to space the floor; tenacious on-ball defender; excellent length -- 6-11.5 wingspan with an 8-8 standing reach; uses both hands well; has a good Euro-step for a young player; can get to the rim, has a nice mid-range game and shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc in his lone college season; was the least-hyped of Kentucky’s recruiting class and finished at the top of it; very slight frame, will need to add muscle to absorb NBA punishment; 6-6 with a 7-0 wingspan and 36-inch vertical; shot 81 percent from the stripe; has tendency to turn the ball over; uses length to smother ball-handlers and cut off passing lanes; size and two-way game have scouts comparing him to Shaun Livingston; good kid and hard worker who isn’t afraid of the big moment


COLLIN SEXTON6-2, 185 – Born: January 4, 1999 – (Atlanta, GA) – College: Alabama – Aggressive play earned him the nickname: “the Young Bull”; constantly in attack mode – gets downhill and attacks in the paint; needs to improve defensively and learn to involve his teammates on the offensive end; averaged 19.2 ppg while shooting nearly 45 percent from the floor; improved as the season progressed; 6-6.5 wingspan and 8.0 standing reach; saved some of his best work for the SEC and NCAA Tournament; Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said Sexton’s “talent is semi-other-worldly,” and Villanova’s Jay Wright called him “the most dynamic guard we’ve played all year”; very intelligent – both on the court and in the classroom; got on the national radar when he scored 40 points as just one of three players left on the floor in a game against Minnesota; good two-way skill-set but will have to improve on his decision-making on the next level; explosiveness and aggressive style mean he could be molded into a better defender at the NBA level; has an excellent offensive arsenal – pull-ups, step-backs and a nice mid-range game; plays the game with an attitude


ZHAIRE SMITH6-4, 200 – Born: June 4, 1999 – (Garland, TX) – College: Texas Tech – Tremendous athlete with big upside who’s viewed as one of the “home run swings” of this Draft; competes defensively; almost no ability to generate his own offense; measured just under 6-3 without shoes at the combine; shot 56 percent from the floor; not a particularly good ball-handler for his size; high-IQ player; has been a beast at workouts and the combine; tenacious offensive rebounder; good at creating shots for himself and his teammates; very good shot-blocker for a wing player; considered somewhat of a project at the next level; plays a very complete floor game on both ends; not an assertive three-point shooter and will need to improve at the stripe; slow release on jumper; could be an elite NBA defender – very versatile, defended 1-through-5 in college; excellent motor; active screener, always looking to get teammates open; doesn’t turn 20 years old until next June; good first-step off the dribble; some concern that he was a one-year wonder at Texas Tech


LONNIE WALKER6-5, 195 – Born: December 14, 1998 – (Reading, PA) – College: Miami – Scored double-figures in 14 of his final 17 games at Miami and showed off freakish athleticism at recent Draft combine; explosive ability to get to the rim; young enough to develop a more consistent offensive game; has a 40-inch vertical; can develop into an excellent defender; has an outstanding first step and is a strong finisher at the rim; very good body control, ability to finish through contact; decent but not great three-point shooter – shot just under 35 percent in single season at Miami; can create for himself on the offensive end; doesn’t get to the free throw line enough and doesn’t shoot a good percentage when he gets there; needs to be better off the ball; has a very good NBA-ready frame; lacks advanced ball-handling skills; length, agility and quickness will allow him to effectively guard both backcourt positions at the next level; has all the tools to be a 3-and-D guy in the NBA if he lands in the right situation


TRAE YOUNG6-2, 180 – Born: September 19, 1998 – (Norman, OK) – College: Oklahoma – Viewed as the best pure shooter in college hoops since Steph Curry; attempted more than 10 three-pointers per game; can score off the dribble as well as catch-and-shoot; good enough athlete to get past defenders if they close out on him from deep; doesn’t have dominating physical traits – 6-2 with a 6-2 wingspan; can get his shot off in a hurry; while a lights-out shooter from the perimeter, doesn’t project as an efficient scorer near the rim at the next level; makes risky passes and can be turnover-prone; very good in pick-and-roll situations; some concern about his low release point; could be a liability on the defensive end; can sometimes jack up ill-advised attempts early in the shot clock; led Division I in both scoring and assists, but also in turnovers (5.22); can be taken out of his game by bigger, more physical defenders; scored 48 points on 39 shots against Oklahoma State in a loss; shot 36 percent from long-range; had NCAA record 22 assists against Northwestern State but also had a 12-turnover game against Kansas State


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Eight is Enough - June 11, 2018

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