Ranking the Shooting Guards
By mikebarrett Posted in: 2012draft
As we approach Thursday’s NBA Draft, your eyes are probably starting to glaze over as you read the various mock drafts, player rankings, and detailed breakdown reports of every single player available this year.
As you know, this is a very exciting time for Trail Blazer fans, and we all have our opinions about who the team should be focusing on. Like you, I have a depth chart in mind, and have my own favorites.
All of the contributors to trailblazers.com have been breaking things down position by position, and I was given the task of compiling the top shooting guards in this year’s draft.
In some ways this is a very easy position to process, and I think this year’s draft, at this particular position, is deep and talented, and in some cases there isn’t much that separates the prospects. We haven’t seen a draft with this many quality shooting guards in several years. And, the league is due for an influx of new blood at this position. This draft will take care of that.
This whole process is equal parts science and gut. And, as we know well, no one has a system down that’s fool proof. It seems like it should be fairly easy to figure out what translates directly from college basketball to the NBA, but as history has shown us, it’s not.
For me, it’s all about figuring out a player’s floor and ceiling. Again, it sounds simple. But, the different maturity levels, previous team dynamics, and the emotional development of young players can be tough to gauge. How much have we seen of a particular player? How much is left to discover and tap? How will he fit in to a particular system, and how will he mesh with the current roster makeup of your team? It’s an educated roll of the dice. Like everything, it’s risk versus reward.
No matter how much the analysts prepare, no matter how many scenarios are thrown against the wall, there always seem to be surprises on draft day. And, everyone seems to have a better way to unlock and solve this puzzle.
Now that I’ve shot down the validity and importance of attempting to predict this beast, I will now attempt to predict this beast- the shooting guards anyway.
I’m going to give you my top 10 shooting guards, based on what I’ve seen from the college season and what I’ve heard from other experts I’ve talked to. The order of this ranking may be a little different from what you’ve seen, but there are a couple of players I like, for whatever reason, more than other experts I’ve read.
1. Bradley Beal, Florida.
Okay, no shocker here. He’s the consensus No. 1 shooting guard in his draft class. He’s got a muscular build, tremendous shooting range, great work ethic, and a great leader. Unlike some players at this position, he’s dedicated himself to defense, and that’s the icing on the cake. While it’s true that he’s only 18, and there are some unknowns, he’s the top dog in this category this year.
2. Terrence Ross, Washington.
Perhaps this is a stretch, and I realize that he played mainly the small forward position for the Dawgs, but shooting guard is the best place for him in the NBA, and that’s where most scouts see him. I also believe that no other player has increased his stock more, during this pre-draft workout time, than Ross. Execs always say they look at a player’s entire body of work, but it’s very difficult not to get infatuated with certain players when they’re working out in your team’s gear, right in front of you. Ross has taken full advantage of this. Ross’ offensive game is already NBA-ready, and he’s got range that should be able to handle the deeper arc. He’s explosive as well. Just imagine if Tony Wroten had shared the ball with him a little more last season.
3. Dion Waiters, Syracuse.
It should give you some idea of how good Syracuse was last season that one of their bench players could be a lottery pick in the NBA draft. Waiters is extremely solid is all areas, and that makes you forgive him that he’s not spectacular in any one of them. Even though he was on the second unit in college, he was the guy Jim Boeheim often turned to on offense late in games. The only real question mark is his defensive ability, but that’s understandable when all you’ve played is a 2-3 zone.
4. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
You hear all these measurements and test results during the pre-draft workouts and draft combine. Here’s the one to remember when considering Lamb- he’s 6’5 but has a crazy 6’11 wingspan. The reason that’s important at this position, is that it’ll allow him to get his shot off at any time and in any way he wants. Or, more realistically, it’ll be a factor in helping him get his shot off over better defenders. I’m a big fan of big program guys, and Lamb helped UConn to a national title in his freshman season. He’s played under the bright lights, and even though some were a bit disappointed with his sophomore season, that could have had more to do with all of Connecticut’s off-court issues last year.
5. Will Barton, Memphis
The comment most often heard about Barton is that he’s going to have to bulk up to be able to deal with life in the NBA. Yes, he’s thin and light. But, you can’t touch guards in the NBA anymore anyway, so let’s give him a pass on that for now. I can do that because Barton has shown that he’s very willing to head into traffic, and has that knack for getting himself to the free throw line. That’s such an underrated skill at the next level. Barton may not have the deep range of the others at the top of his class, but he’s shown the ability to improve, and that’ll continue as he gets stronger.
6. Austin Rivers, Duke
I admit that I’m totally uncertain on where to stick Rivers. Some days I have him in the top three, and other days I feel like he’s maybe a top eight or nine guy. For obvious reasons, he knows the game inside and out, and could be a great leader. He’s brash, but in a good way. Rivers isn’t extremely quick and isn’t as explosive as some on this list. But, he’s just kind of got an “it” quality that is tough to explain. Even though he’s been criticized at times for looking too much for his own shot, he’s always seemed to me to be a very patient player, and you can’t always say that about young guys. That’s probably because he’s got so much confidence, and has such a high basketball I.Q.
7. Moe Harkless, St.John’s
I know, I’m cheating a bit here, but I’ve got to put Harkless on this list. He’s listed as a small forward on most lists, but the guys I like to listen to really think he could be a shooting guard as well. No, he didn’t shoot well from range in his one season at St.John’s, and he needs to bulk up. But, he’s an amazing athlete who is incredibly fast and can jump out of the gym. He’s a high-character guy, and has a maturity about him that’s beyond his years. From what I’ve seen, Harkless has a very high ceiling and if he goes in the 20s, could be the steal of the draft. Possibly, as a small forward, but as I’ve said, can play either position.
8. Doron Lamb, Kentucky
It can be very difficult to truly gauge a player like Lamb, who was on a Kentucky team dripping with talent. And, he was a sophomore on a team loaded with freshmen. But, if you watched Kentucky last year, you know it was Lamb who was his team’s main weapon to close out games. He’s one of those guys who has a great floor and we just don’t know about his ceiling. He probably won’t be an elite NBA player, but has great leadership qualities and is solid in most areas.
9. Evan Fournier, France
He’s got very good size, and is a solid athlete, but will probably go somewhere in the middle of the second round of the draft. He’s young, and preformed well at the Eurocamp. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on his game out there, but enough people saw him at the Nike Hoop Summit to at least think he’s going to be an NBA player.
10. Kim English, Missouri
English has a very impressive stroke, but there are concerns that perhaps that’s all he has. Or, at least there are valid concerns that we’ve seen what he is, and that potential has been reached. After all, he’s 23, and will be 24 in November. That shouldn’t be enough to keep him from being drafted, but if he is it’ll be late in the second round.
So, that’s the top 10 list on this particular day. It’ll probably change tomorrow, and that’s the fun part. I have a feeling many NBA execs feel the same way. No matter what happens, and what the final order is on draft day, it’s great to see NBA’s shelves being restocked in a position that’s a little thin these days.
Much more to come.
It’ll be an interesting week.