Raphielle Johnson

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Draft Point Guard Rankings

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


While the front court players have received the majority of the attention with respect to the top portion of the 2018 NBA Draft, there are also some quality point guard prospects available for selection. The evaluations of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic (who will be listed with the small forwards for this) will certainly impact the draft board, due to his ability to serve as the focal point of a team’s offensive attack despite being 6-foot-7. Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Alabama’s Collin Sexton are projected to be surefire lottery picks by many, with Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander a taller lead guard who is likely to land in the back end of the lottery. Below are some of the top point guards in this year’s NBA draft.



Trae Young, Freshman, Oklahoma, 6’1.75”, 177.8 - While Young did not take part in any of the drills, neither shooting nor agility, at last week’s NBA Draft Combine he did go through the measurement process. Young was one of college basketball’s biggest names in what was an excellent season, leading the nation in both scoring and assists on an Oklahoma team that lacked consistent offensive options besides himself. The name Stephen Curry came up on multiple occasions due to Young’s shooting range and ball-handling abilities, and Young’s role as a freshman was similar to that of Curry’s during his junior (and final) season at Davidson in that both were asked to shoulder the load as their respective team’s primary scoring and distributing option. In the case of Young, Oklahoma’s lack of consistent supplementary scoring in Big 12 play did have an impact on his playmaking as he averaged 6.1 turnovers per game. There were times when he was a bit loose with the basketball, something that will need to be addressed at the next level. The bigger concern for Young in the NBA will be how he defends opposing point guards, whether in isolations or ball-screen situations. However, a team can account for that with its overall defensive scheme. Given his abilities on the offensive end of the floor, Young’s a player whose name should be called shortly after the expected run on top-end big men ends at the top of the draft.

Collin Sexton, Freshman, Alabama, 6’1.5”, 183.0 - Sexton also showed up in Chicago to go through the measurement process, with his height (with shoes) 1.5 inches shorter than the height listed for him at Alabama. That isn’t a big deal however, as Sexton is still regarded as one of the top point guards in this draft. Given the ball from Day 1 by Avery Johnson, Sexton is a highly competitive and aggressive lead guard who has the skill and athletic ability to apply pressure to opposing defenses. According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, Sexton averaged 7.6 fouls drawn per 40 minutes, which ranked seventh in college basketball, and he was top-10 in the SEC in both fouls drawn per 40 (third) and free-throw rate (10th). Sexton’s quick off the dribble, and his ability to break down defenders can open things up for his teammates as well. Sexton averaged just over 19 points and 3.6 assists per game this past season, and if there’s a concern on the offensive end of the floor it would be his perimeter shooting. Sexton shot just 33.6 percent from three in 2017-18 (24.2 percent against SEC competition), and that’s an area NBA teams will certainly take a look at during the pre-draft workout process. If he shows well during those workouts, look for Sexton’s projection of being a mid-lottery pick to hold up.

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Freshman, Kentucky, 6’6”, 180.0 - Gilgeous-Alexander began his lone season at Kentucky as a reserve, ultimately working his way into the starting lineup and proving to be an indispensable member of John Calipari’s rotation. Gilgeous-Alexander’s size jumps off the page when considering his NBA draft prospects, as a notable reason why he was able to have an impact on the defensive end of the floor. Only SMU’s Shake Milton had a longer wingspan than Gilgeous-Alexander among point guards measured at the combine, with the latter’s recorded at 6’11.5”, an attribute that helped the freshman affect opposing point guards’ line of vision when looking to distribute the basketball. Offensively Gilgeous-Alexander was at his best when looking to break down opponents off the dribble; while he posted a respectable three-point percentage (40.4) the freshman averaged just 1.5 three-point attempts per game. Averaging just over five assists per game, Gilgeous-Alexander finished the season with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.89. Gilgeous-Alexander is projected to go in the latter portion of the lottery, and if that isn’t the case it’s tough to see him being on the board for much longer after that due to his physical skills.

Jalen Brunson, Junior, Villanova, 6’2.25”, 198.4 - Brunson ended his collegiate career in style, helping lead Villanova to its second national title in three years. While the aforementioned Young was the player most often discussed with respect to national Player of the Year honors during the early and middle portions of the season, it was Brunson who won the majority of those awards due to the combination of individual and team success. Brunson shot the ball well both overall and from three-point range, averaging nearly 19 points and 4.6 assists per game. Playing in a system that gave its perimeter players every opportunity to make plays for themselves and others, Brunson was a very efficient option within the Villanova attack. Moreover, don’t be fooled by the build either; while he may not have “jump out of the gym” athleticism by no means would Brunson be classified as a “non-athlete.” The son of a long-time NBA vet, Brunson certainly has the look of a player who knows what it takes to get to his preferred spots not only to benefit himself but his teammates as well. Brunson’s the type of prospect who may not land in the top half of the first round, but rather wind up with a playoff team and go on to work his way into the rotation.

Aaron Holiday, Junior, UCLA, 6’0.75”, 187.0 - Like Brunson, Holiday didn’t have to look far for advice on what it takes to get to the NBA and stick around as older brothers Jrue (New Orleans) and Justin (Chicago) are both currently plying their trades at that level. The 2017-18 season was Holiday’s first as UCLA’s clear option at the point and he was excellent, averaging 20.3 points and 5.8 assists per game on a team that won 21 games and reached the NCAA tournament. Holiday shot nearly 43 percent from three on 6.2 attempts per game, and he also shot nearly 83 percent from the foul line. Holiday was the Pac-12’s best three-point shooter in league games, and he also ranked among the conference’s best in free-throw rate and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. A lot of what UCLA looked to do offensively depended upon Holiday’s ability to make the right decision, whether scoring himself or distributing the basketball to the Bruins’ other offensive options. That impacted his turnover numbers some, most notably in the team’s NCAA tournament loss to St. Bonaventure (11 turnovers). Taking care of the basketball and defending his position well will be keys for Holiday, who has the look of a point guard who if he isn’t taken in the latter portion of the first round won’t last too long in the second.

Trevon Duval, Freshman, Duke, 6’2.5”, 191.0 - Duval arrived on the Duke campus regarded as one of the top players in the Class of 2017, and he experienced a season that was solid but not spectacular. The 6’2.5” Duval finished with a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, but he lacked consistency when it came to shooting the basketball from the perimeter. Overall, Duval was just a 29.0 percent shooter from three, but against ACC competition that percentage increased to 35.3 percent. There were times this past season when Duke gave senior Grayson Allen the responsibility of initiating things offensively, with Duval having some turnover issues when taking on higher-level competition. The defensive end of the floor, an area in which the Blue Devils as a whole ran into trouble before switching to a 2-3 zone full-time, is another area where Duval will need to make some strides if he’s to be an effective pro. Duval only went through the measurement portion of last week’s combine, and his workouts against higher-regarded point guard prospects will have a significant impact on his draft potential. Going late in the first round, especially to a playoff team with an established point guard, would not be a bad thing for Duval at this stage in his career. Nevertheless, he’s in a position when it comes to teams’ draft boards where the fight for a spot in the first round will be highly competitive.

Landry Shamet, Sophomore, Wichita State, 6’5.25”, 188.6 - After earning first team all-conference honors in the American Conference, Shamet made the decision to forego his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the NBA draft. It’s certainly possible that Shamet could have made a run at the top half of the first round by sticking around for another season, but that’s no guarantee. Also, with more second-round picks getting guaranteed deals (or two-way spots) there isn’t as much of a stigma as there used to be with the possibility of not going in the first 30 picks. At just over 6-foot-5 with shoes on Shamet has good size for the point guard position, but it should be noted that there’s only a +1.5-inch difference between his height and wingspan according to the NBA’s numbers. Shamet shot the ball well from the field, three-point range and the foul line last season, and while dishing out 5.2 assists per game he produced an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.5. Shamet takes good care of the basketball, more often than not making the right decisions when it comes to relying on his own scoring ability or setting up teammates. Shamet can handle multiple perimeter positions on both ends of the floor, playing on or off the ball offensively while having the size and athletic ability to defend either leads or off-guards. While the aforementioned Duval appears to have a more volatile prognosis with regards to his draft “stock,” Shamet is a prospect who should hear his name called in the first round.

 


Others to Watch: Jevon Carter, West Virginia; Carsen Edwards, Purdue; Devonte’ Graham, Kansas; Jaylen Hands, UCLA; Elie Okobo, Pau Orthez (France).



Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.
Email :Raphielle Johnson



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