Plenty of Intriguing Point Guards and Combo Guards in 2023 NBA Draft

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

ORLANDO - If you play NBA 2K or follow the NBA 2K League, you are likely familiar with player archetypes, which basically are the combination of strengths and weaknesses that make up an individual’s on-court ability. On the virtual hardwood, there are a variety of archetypes one can choose at each of the five positions.

Although we don’t categorize players quite the same way in real-world basketball, the concepts still apply, especially around the draft when teams must decide what strengths they value most in prospects.

When examining the point guards and combo guards in this year’s draft, there’s a whole platter of “archetypes.” There are a few excellent two-way playmakers, several three-level scorers, some sharpshooters, a couple crafty creators, and a few speedsters who love to fly up and down the floor.

Among those projected to be selected in the lottery, or for some a little later in the first round, include the G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson, Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson, Arkansas’ Anthony Black and Nick Smith Jr., Baylor’s Keyonte George, Kentucky’s Cason Wallace, and UCLA’s Amari Bailey.

Henderson is an electric point guard with prime Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose speed and explosiveness. Although just 6-foot-2 in height, he has a very long wingspan and is well built to handle contact on his drives to the basket.

In 19 games with the G League Ignite this past season, he averaged 16.5 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent from the field overall and 27.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I kind of changed my mind(set) during the season that it’s going to be guys out there lankier, stronger, faster, smarter (in the NBA) than the whole G League season,” he said. “I think I’ve prepared mentally at a good level…I know it’s going to be way harder than what I’ve been doing going against NBA guys. I know I am going to be ready.”

Thompson is another dynamic lead guard with a blazing quick first step and superb vision. At 6-foot-7 and over 200 pounds, he likes to get out and run in the open floor. Like Henderson, perimeter shooting is his main weakness.

Black, meanwhile, is arguably the craftiest guard in this draft. He has outstanding footwork and body control. Some have compared him to Josh Giddey and others Austin Reaves or even Jalen Brunson, but longer. He relies more on change of pace rather than burst. He has a knack for initiating contact, too.

In his one-and-done year with the Razorbacks, he averaged 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor overall and 30.1 percent from beyond the arc. He also averaged 5.3 free throw attempts per contest.

His Arkansas teammate, Smith Jr., only appeared in 17 college games because of a knee injury, but that was enough of a sample to show what he can do. One of his best games came against Georgia on Feb. 21, when he erupted for 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and 5-of-8 from 3-point distance. He’s a self-creator with a smooth pull-up jumper and a soft floater on his short drives.

“I feel like I can shoot the ball at a high clip,” he said. “I feel like making reads was very important for me. I didn’t really get to show that my freshman year. I feel like I can be a really good on-ball defender. Only thing I’m worried about is wins and helping an organization win championships.”

George is similar in many ways. Not many defenders can contain him when he’s cooking. He’s got a sweet stroke from long range and an extensive shot creation package. However, he wasn’t very efficient at Baylor, making just 37.6 percent of his shots from the field and 33.8 percent of his threes.

“My scoring ability – I feel like I’m an elite scorer,” the 6-foot-4, 185-pound guard said. “I think I showed this year that my passing ability is really up there – passing with my right hand and my left hand. I think I showed toward the end of the year my athleticism. My tenacity on the defensive end…I think I showed I can have an all-around game.”

Wallace is widely considered the best defensive guard in this draft. Some have compared him to Jrue Holiday, others Marcus Smart. His defensive instincts and quick hands help come up with a lot of steals and deflections. He averaged 2.0 steals at Kentucky this past season, fourth most in the SEC. Underrated is his passing. He averaged 4.3 dimes.

“Defense is one and making reads out of the pick-and-roll is the other,” he said of his main strengths.

Another stifling backcourt defender is Bailey, known for playing with relentless energy, hustle and tenacity. He’s an elite point-of-attack defender who moves his feet extremely well at 6-foot-4. He was also very efficient in his one season at UCLA, making just a shade under 50 percent of his floor shots.

Like Wallace, his playmaking gets overlooked a bit.

“My playmaking ability and being able to get others open – I don’t think that was something I was necessarily able to fully display this past season, and I think I showed (at combine) what I am capable of doing when I am a primary ball handler,” he said.

Some of the other point guards and combo guards who could get selected in the first round or early second include Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino, NC State’s Terquavion Smith, Houston’s Marcus Sasser, Miami’s Isaiah Wong, and TCU’s Mike Miles Jr.

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