Title: NBA Draft Week – Point Guards
Date: June 23, 2008
Original Source: The On Deck Circle
Synopsis: For a full week I focused exclusively on the NBA Draft, one of my favorite nights of the sporting calendar. This piece looked at the point guard class, headlined by Derrick Rose.
This is Part 1 in a 7-part NBA Draft Preview Series here at The On Deck Circle. While I apologize to our readers who aren’t NBA fans, Thursday is the NBA Draft, one of my favorite nights of the year, and as such our coverage will focus primarily on the draft this week (supplemented, of course, by a bunch of non-basketball stuff, too). The series will take a look at the draft, position by position, attempting to amalgamate information from ESPN and Draft Express and condense it into digestible profiles for the top players of the Class of 2008. Today, I’m starting with Point Guards, Tuesday will feature Shooting Guards and Small Forwards, Wednesday will examine Power Forwards and Centers, and Thursday will look at potential Toronto Raptor draft picks. The week-long coverage will commence with a live-blog of the actual draft on Thursday night, starting at 7PM. Up first, the Point Guards.
Derrick Rose, Memphis
Measurements: 6’3”, 190lbs., Age 19
Draft Express Rank (mock position in parentheses): 1
ESPN Rank (mock position in parentheses): 1
Projection: Top 2
Synopsis: The big debate has been raging for some time now – Rose or Beasley? I was originally pretty adamant that Rose should be the pick, and feel even stronger about this now that Rose is practically begging to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls. Teams are endeared by Beasley’s size and potential, but Rose is already a sure thing. He has great size for a guard and is physically dominant, he is ambidextrous when handling the ball, has great finishing ability, and the skill and heart to guard multiple positions at an elite level. The main knocks against Rose are perimeter shooting and his decision making in half-court sets, where he sometimes plays out of control, but both of these are issues that generally come later for point guards. With guards taking the NBA game back from the bigs in the next few years, having a franchise guard like Rose is imperative for any franchise.
Interesting Fact: He will be the best player out of this draft class.
Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
Measurements: 6’3”, 204lbs., Age 19
Draft Express Rank: 2
ESPN Rank: 2
Projection: Top 7
Synopsis: Bayless is a premier athlete, one of the best in this draft class. At 6’3” he has the size to be physically imposing against point guards, but his skill set marks him as a combo guard (tweener), a usual kiss of death on scouting reports. Still, he has incredible floor vision and passing, making him the ultimate offensive weapon in combination with his above average shooting touch. There are some concerns about his decision making and occasional selfishness (he is better playing off the ball), and defensive concerns could see him slide. Even so, his athleticism is impossible to ignore and gives hope for his defensive potential. Oh yeah, DX says he has ‘intangibles,’ too.
Interesting Fact: His ESPN player comparison is Gilbert Arenas, yet they call him the “thinking man’s Monta Ellis.”
Russell Westbrook, UCLA
Measurements: 6’4”, 192lbs., Age 19
Draft Express Rank: 4
ESPN Rank: 3
Projection: Top 9
Synopsis: The sophomore out of UCLA gets the nod over D.J. Augustin here simply for being a Bruin – the two are that close in talent. His size is obviously endearing to scouts, but again, it sees him labelled as a combo-guard. This may not be a bad thing for Westbrook, who has the size and tenacity to guard NBA 2-guards. He has great speed and apparently has an impressive work ethic, so the only real question is whether he can learn the point from an offensive standpoint. Reports are that as a person and player, he is off-the-charts likable and coachable, making his upside tremendous, even in light of the position concerns.
Interesting Fact: His NBA Draft.net comparisons are Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis, neither of whom he is readily comparable to.
D.J. Augustin, Texas
Measurements: 6’0”, 172lbs., Age 20
Draft Express Rank: 3
ESPN Rank: 4
Synopsis: The first guard on this list with size concerns, Augustin is also a streaky shooter and average (at best) defender. Those are the knocks, but he also completely took over his Texas Longhorns this season, creating a favorable scouting report a mile long. He has a great head for the game, can shoot in all forms from all areas, is generally unselfish and under control, and is fantastic at changing speeds on the fly to trick defenders. He is the first guard on this list with legitimate NBA 3-point range (for now) and projects to be a good leader on the floor. There is definite value here if he slips out of the top-10, especially given the drop off after he comes off the board.
Interesting Fact: His numbers decreased in every category except points this season, but the reviews are far better now than in 2007.
Mario Chalmers, Kansas
Measurements: 6’1”, 190lbs., Age 22
Draft Express Rank: 5
ESPN Rank: 5
Synopsis: As the only guard in the draft to have a Gary Roberts Wednesday in his honor, Chalmers has a lot going for him, obviously. Like a few other guards here, he’s definitely been given the combo guard tag, despite not really having shooting guard size. The knocks against him are numerous, hence the mention of a big talent drop off after Augustin, as he has a poor mid-range game, struggles to make his own shot, and projects as a back-up. Still, he might be the best defender in the entire draft class, is intelligent and fearless in his shot selection, and he has run the point for a National Champion. He is a gamble in the lottery but has incredible value later in the first round, as his best fit is on a strong team as an instant contributor.
Interesting Fact: DX has him going 27th to New Orleans, ESPN has him going 12th to Sacramento, the largest difference in the two mocks.
And that’s it. Seriously. This year’s draft class is extremely top-heavy for point guards, but if you’re not selecting in the lottery you may be out of luck. The next few point guards ranked project as mid-second rounders to undrafted (Mike Taylor out of Iowa State, Jamont Gordon out of Mississippi State, George Hill out of IUPUI), so I didn’t feel the need to break them down in depth. It looks as if this situation could lead to a good deal of trading on draft night, as, by my count, most teams could use a top-level point guard.
Check back tomorrow for Shooting Guards and Small Forwards, Wednesday for Power Forwards and Centers, and Thursday for Potential Raptor Picks and a Live-Blog of the Draft.