Raphielle Johnson

Draft Preview

print article archives RSS

Draft Shooting Guard Rankings

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


While the bigs and wings have received the majority of the attention in the top end of the 2018 NBA Draft, with some point guards joining the discussion in the middle of the lottery, off-guards haven’t come up much before the end of the lottery in most draft projections. However, that doesn’t mean things can’t change between now and the June 21 draft, with players such as Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith and Miami’s Lonnie Walker IV garnering plenty of interest. Smith and Walker are two of the players capable of working their way into the lottery, and Donte DiVincenzo, Kevin Huerter and Josh Okogie all received positive reviews for their work in Chicago. Below are thoughts on some of the top shooting guards in this year’s draft pool.



Zhaire Smith, Freshman, Texas Tech, 6’4”, 198.6 - Listed at 6’5” by Texas Tech, Smith went from a player looking to solidify his spot in the Red Raider rotation at the start of the season to a player projected to be a first-round pick by season’s end. With that being the case, Smith made the decision to forego his final three seasons of eligibility, and as one of the best athletes in the draft he could very well work his way into the lottery with good workouts over the next month. Nevertheless, Smith’s height came in lower than expected when recorded at the combine and likely makes him more of a straight two-guard as opposed to a combo wing at the NBA level. With that being the case, Smith will need to become more comfortable with taking perimeter shots, as he attempted just 40 three-pointers (making 45.0 percent) this past season. A slasher who finishes above the rim with ease, Smith also did a good job of using his athleticism to make an impact defensively. How well he shoots the ball in pre-draft workouts will definitely impact how high Smith goes in next month’s draft, but his athleticism and defensive work are positives that stand out at this time.

Lonnie Walker IV, Freshman, Miami, 6’4.5”, 196.2 - A highly-regarded prospect out of high school, Walker’s decision to forego his final three seasons of eligibility came as no surprise to anyone. Playing in a system in which Miami’s perimeter contributors didn’t lack for opportunities to make plays off the dribble, Walker averaged 11.5 points per game and shot 41.5 percent from the field. Walker’s a high-level athlete who can make plays above the rim, but it should be noted that just over half of his field goal attempts last season were three-pointers (34.6 percent shooting from three). Walker tested out well in the speed drills at the combine, with his shuttle run (2.87 seconds) the fastest among shooting guards and his lane agility time (10.87 seconds) ranking among the fastest as well. Walker’s wingspan of 6’10.25” was also one of the better measurements among off-guards who went through the measurement portion of the combine. While Walker was more willing to put up three-pointers than Zhaire Smith, he may be in a similar spot heading into pre-draft workouts, as showing that he can hit those shots at a consistent rate could be the difference between going late-lottery or in the middle of the first round.

Editor’s Note: Fantasy Baseball season is here! With over 15,000 reviews, DRAFT is the highest rated fantasy sports app. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money fantasy baseball draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link

 

Khyri Thomas, Junior, Creighton, 6’3.75”, 198.8 - For the last two seasons Thomas was the best defender in the Big East, sharing the honor in 2017 and then claiming it for himself in 2018. The ability to defend multiple positions on the perimeter will certainly be an area of strength for Thomas as he goes through the pre-draft process, but he’s more than just a defender. Playing in Greg McDermott’s system, Thomas developed offensively throughout out his time at Creighton and became a dependable scoring option for the Bluejays. This past season Thomas averaged 15.1 points per game, shooting 53.8 percent from the field, 41.1 percent from three and 78.8 percent from the foul line. Thomas also averaged just under three assists per game last season. With a 6’10.5” wingspan Thomas boasts a height/wingspan differential of plus-6.75, which is helpful when it comes to defending some of the taller wings he’s bound to face at the next level. Thomas is projected to go in the first round, likely a few picks outside of the lottery.

Donte DiVincenzo, Junior, Villanova, 6’4.5”, 200.6 - DiVincenzo’s 31-point night propelled Villanova past Michigan in last month’s national championship game, and he managed to build on that momentum while in Chicago. Looking to cement his status as a first-round pick DiVincenzo tested out well and more importantly played well in the 5-on-5 scrimmages. A plus athlete, DiVincenzo showed those who have boxed him into the “shooter” category that he’s capable of doing a lot more than just that. If there’s a concern physically it’s the wingspan, which at 6’6” is only 1.5 inches more than his height according to the NBA’s numbers. However, given DiVincenzo’s skill set, with the ability to not only make perimeter shots but attack defenses off the dribble, the wingspan is only a minor issue when it comes to his draft prospects. Further, even if DiVincenzo were to slip out of the first round and go early second, it’s become more common for teams to guarantee deals to second-rounders they’re eager to keep around. DiVincenzo has until May 30 (NCAA deadline) to decide whether or not he’ll return to Villanova for his senior season, but given the way in which he played in Chicago, following that up with some good team workouts could make the decision an easy one.

Josh Okogie, Sophomore, Georgia Tech, 6’4.5”, 210.8 - Another guard who arrived in Chicago without an agent was Okogie, who after performing well made it official on Monday that he’s staying in the 2018 NBA Draft and hiring an agent. One thing that works in Okogie’s favor is his age, as he won’t turn 20 until September and that makes him younger than some of the lottery picks being lauded for their “upside.” Okogie’s wingspan of 7’0” was the longest among the shooting guards tested in Chicago, and he put up good times in the shuttle and 3/4-court sprint runs and tallied a 42-inch max vertical. Okogie participated in the 5-on-5 scrimmages, playing well and showing off the ability to get to his preferred spots and score in an efficient manner. Okogie averaged 18.2 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the Yellow Jackets last season, and while the overall field goal percentage (41.6 percent) was a bit low he did shoot a respectable 38.0 percent from three and 82.0 percent from the foul line. Heading into Chicago Okogie appeared to be a player likely to land in the back end of the second round, but his two days at the combine have made the guard a player worth tracking over the next month.

Kevin Huerter, Sophomore, Maryland, 6’7.25”, 194.0 - Like DiVincenzo, Huerter has yet to make a decision regarding the NBA draft. After performing well in the 5-on-5 drills and measuring out well, Huerter’s decision may be tougher than simply getting feedback on what he’d need to improve upon as a junior at Maryland. With good height for the wing positions, Huerter has the ability to create offense for himself as well as his teammates; at Maryland he’s served as a supplementary facilitator to starting point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. This past season Huerter put up solid shooting numbers across the board, making more than half of his overall field goal attempts and nearly 42 percent of his three-pointers. If there’s a concern from a basketball standpoint it’s the occasional habit of committing turnovers, not so much due to his being overly aggressive but rather a lack of attention to detail. However, to be fair to Huerter, the turnovers were a problem for many of Maryland’s chief playmaking options in 2017-18. The wingspan (6’7.5”) isn’t all that impressive, especially when considering Huerter measuring out height-wise at 6’7.25”, but his abilities to serve as a secondary playmaker offensively while also being able to defend both wing positions make Huerter an intriguing prospect leading up to the NCAA withdrawal deadline.

Grayson Allen, Senior, Duke, 6’4.5”, 198.0 - Allen certainly had his moments during four seasons at Duke, from going off for 20 points in the 2015 national title game to a couple tripping incidents and other, more positive moments. Now comes the next step: showing that he has what it takes not only to be drafted but to also be a contributor once in the NBA. Allen received positive reviews from many who were in attendance at the NBA draft combine, and his overall production at Duke can’t be ignored. Allen’s certainly athletic enough to hold his own on the perimeter, and his ability to score at all three levels should have him in the mix to be a first-round pick. There were also times this season when Allen was called upon to run the point, with the senior averaging 4.6 assists per game with just over two turnovers to his credit per night. Allen, as is the case with a few of his Duke teammates, will need to show in workouts that he can defend his position at the pro level. While some focused on Duke’s big men as the reason why the Blue Devils played so much zone, the guards also had issues when it came to keeping opposing guards from getting to the basket off the dribble. Where will Allen fall in next month’s draft? A good run of workouts would likely ensure that Allen’s a first-rounder, likely in the latter portion, with the early second being a possibility as well.

Shake Milton, Junior, SMU, 6’5.5” 207.2 - Milton’s size and ability to play either on or off the ball are attributes that make him a very intriguing prospect, one who could find himself in the first round come draft night. With more scoring responsibility upon his shoulders this season before going down with a right-hand injury, Milton averaged 18.0 points per game in 2017-18 and shot 44.9 percent from the field and 43.4 percent from three. Milton was one of the best offensive players in the American Athletic Conference, scoring and distributing the basketball while also managing to apply pressure to opposing defenses off the dribble. Milton was also a factor defensively, and with the combination of his athletic ability and a wingspan of 7’0.75”, he has the ability to defend both guard positions at the NBA level. Milton’s a very intriguing perimeter prospect because of his versatility, and over the next month he’s likely to be a player whose name comes up quite often when discussing guards who can land in the first round.



Others to Watch: Rawle Alkins, Arizona; Troy Brown, Oregon; Jacob Evans III, Cincinnati; Devon Hall, Virginia; DeAnthony Melton, USC; Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas; Jerome Robinson, Boston College; Anfernee Simons, IMG Academy; Gary Trent Jr., Duke; Allonzo Trier, Arizona.



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



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Player News: Week 7

    Player News: Week 7
  •  
    Digging for a Trade?

    Digging for a Trade?
  •  
    Dose: Freeman to IR

    Dose: Freeman to IR
  •  
    Dose: Rodgers plays hero again

    Dose: Rodgers plays hero again
  •  
    Dose: Gurley

    Dose: Gurley's big day
  •  
    Silva: Week 6 Matchups

    Silva: Week 6 Matchups
  •  
    Dose: Wentz dominates NYG

    Dose: Wentz dominates NYG
  •  
    NASCAR Fantasy: Talladega

    NASCAR Fantasy: Talladega