Draft Preview: Point Guards

Photo: Streeter Lecka Getty Images North AmericaPhoto: Streeter Lecka Getty Images North America

The 2013 NBA Draft is this Thursday and for Jazz fans, it’s an exciting time.  The Jazz have three picks (14, 21, 46) in the Draft and will look to fix some weaknesses.

Point guard is widely considered the Jazz’s biggest need and whether it’s through the draft or via free agency, the Jazz will need to address the position.  Last season the Jazz used a “by committee” approach to running the point and with all three PG’s (Mo Williams, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley) hitting free agency, the draft just might be the best way to find the floor general of the future.

Here’s a look at the top five point guard prospects.

Trey Burke: Michigan, 6’0″ 185 lbs

2012-13 averages: 18.6 points, 6.6 assists, 1.6 steals

Strengths:

Trey Burke is the best point guard prospect in the draft and has the type of game that will translate very well to the NBA.  Burke’s offensive game reminds me of a mix between Tony Parker and Kemba Walker.  He has a great first step, can really score and gets in the lane a lot.  Like Parker, he is known for his ability to break down a defender and get to the rim.  In today’s NBA, a point guard who can break a defense down is absolutely vital.  In college, Burke would get by his man seemingly whenever he wanted and score.  In the pros, he’ll have the option to kick the ball out to wide open shooters.  At Michigan, he ran the pick-and-roll a lot and ran the play extremely well. Burke makes defenses pay when they don’t fight over the top to stay with him.  He has more range than Parker and can really spread the floor and shoot the three.  He has great point guard skills and makes the right decision on when/where to pass the ball.

Weaknesses:

Burke doesn’t have great size and isn’t an elite athlete.  He’s not a Russell Westbrook or John Wall athlete and won’t be finishing at the rim like they can.  That being said, he is an athlete and measured a 36.5″ vertical at the draft combine.  His defense will need some work  and also due to his size he may have a tough time defending larger guards.

Can the Jazz get him?

He’s projected to go anywhere from 2-8 in the draft so to get him, the Jazz will need to trade up.  He would be a great fit if the Jazz were lucky enough to get him and would give the team a point guard of the future.  Burke won every important Player of the Year award last season and for good reason.  Bottom line is…he’s a winner.

Michael Carter-Williams: Syracuse, 6’6″ 184 lbs

2012-13 averages: 12.1 points, 7.4 assists, 2.8 steals

Strengths:

Carter-Williams’ biggest strength is his play-making ability. He runs the court well and thrives in an up-tempo style.  He can get by defenders and makes plays for his teammates with regularity, and that shows in his assists numbers.  He ranked third in the NCAA in assists.  Carter-Williams also has elite size for his position.  At 6’6″ he can see the court well and that allows him to make good decisions as a point guard. He can see over the top of defenders and that only helps his play-making abilities. He has a long stride that allows him to get up the court quickly and fluidly.  He’s a very good defender and excels at on-the-ball defense.  He didn’t always get the opportunity to show his defensive skills due to the famous Syracuse zone, but he can play great defense as evidence of his nearly three steals per game.

Weaknesses:

Although he can get to the rim, he’s not a great shooter and doesn’t light it up with his scoring.  He has a mid-range game but won’t stretch defenses at the next level unless he puts in a serious amount of work on his jumper.  He’s also a bit turnover-prone but that can be blamed on his youth and his knack for trying to make plays on every possession.

Can the Jazz get him?

MCW is projected to go between picks 6-14 and may be there when the Jazz draft.  It’s unlikely that he’ll fall to the Jazz at 14 because the Mavericks are also in need of a point guard and they draft one spot before the Jazz at #13.  If the Jazz love him and want to make him the future then they’ll more than likely need to trade up to get him.

C.J. McCollum: Lehigh, 6’3″ 197 lbs

2012-13 averages: 23.9 points, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals

Strengths:

Scoring.  Scoring. Scoring. McCollum is a deadly scorer and can put points on the board in a variety of ways. He is most lethal with the ball in his hands, creating for himself or teammates.  He can take defenders off the dribble, has a brilliant crossover and has unlimited range on his jump shot.  He is being compared to Stephen Curry in regards to his shooting and although I think the comparison is fair, it’s not the most accurate. Curry is one of the best shooters the game has seen in a long time and I’m not ready to put McCollum in the same range.  However, the two do have a similar style of play, and that’s the ability to put points on the board quickly with a fluid array of moves. McCollum is a smart player after playing four years of college ball.  He has a high basketball IQ and simply knows how to play the game.  He’s also a good rebounder for his position and isn’t afraid to play in the paint.

Weaknesses:

He’s sort of a tweener when it comes to position.  He’s not a true point guard even though that’s where he’s being labeled.  He can play point and does it well but he’s much more of a scorer than a distributor.  The way he’ll get teammates involved is having defenses focus on him and when double/triple teams run his way, a teammate will be standing wide open.  Not a great passer but a good passer.  He’ll also need to work on his defense to stay with the large crop of talented point guards in the NBA. An injured foot forced him to miss most of his senior season, but concerns over the injury are long gone as he’s looked good in pre-draft workouts.

Can the Jazz get him?

Although he may be there when the Jazz select, like the other PG’s ahead of him, he’ll more than likely be gone when the Jazz draft at 14. For the Jazz to get McCollum, they’ll need to make a trade to move up in the draft and to be safe, they’ll need to move up to #9 in front of Portland, as the Blazers like him a lot.

Shane Larkin: Miami, 6’0″ 171 lbs

2012-13 averages: 14.5 points, 4.6 assists, 2.0 steals

Strengths:

His biggest strength is his athleticism.  He’s not the biggest guy in the world but he is a great athlete.  He’s a very quick guard who can blow by defenses and get in the paint at will.  He showed his speed isn’t a fluke as he tested as the fastest guard at the combine.  He also showed off his leaping ability with a 44″ vertical at the combine, the second best vertical in combine history.  He’s a very good pick-and-roll player and can stroke the ball with a pure jumper.  He’s never been the tallest guy on the court and it’s helped to hone in his attacking abilities.  He gets in the lane with his speed and uses his craftiness and moves to finish at the bucket.  He’s lethal in the open court and reminds me of Ty Lawson with his knack of getting things done.  He’s a good passer and sees the passing lanes well.  The son of baseball hall-of-famer Barry Larkin doesn’t let his height dictate his game.

Weaknesses:

Off the bat, his height and size will be viewed as a weakness.  He’s not the biggest guy and in the NBA, he’ll have to defend the likes of Westbrook, Curry, Parker, Lawson, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and Ricky Rubio and that’s just in the Western Conference.  He’s quick and can stay with people but he’ll need to sure up his on the ball defense at the next level.

Can the Jazz get him?

Most definitely.  I haven’t seen a mock draft with Larkin going before #14.  If the Jazz want him then they’ll be able to get him.  I think he would fit in with the team nicely and provide the Jazz a much needed spark of offense as a starter or 6th man.  I don’t, however, see him as a franchise changing point guard.

Dennis Schroeder: Germany, 6’2″ 165 lbs

Strengths:

His biggest strengths are quickness, play-making and defense.  Schroeder says himself that his game is similar to Rajon Rondo and it’s a fair comparison in terms of his body and the way he attacks the basket.  Schroeder has a great first step and gets in the paint with his deceptive speed.  He has a extremely long arms and also looks like Rondo while he’s playing.  He penetrates the lane and gets his teammates involved by forcing defenses to crash on him in the lane.  He plays really good defense on the ball and makes things happen on the defensive side of the ball. He has a nice crossover and can finish with either hand.  He also has a nice floater that he can use over taller defenders.

Weaknesses:

He’s not really a passing point guard and that’s where the Rondo comparisons end.  Rondo is a league leader in assists and Schroeder is more of scoring guard than the “pass first” guy.  He has a nice jumper but he’ll need to improve his range for the NBA because he won’t be able to blow by defenders with the same ease as he displayed during his career overseas.

Can the Jazz get him?

Much like Larkin, if the Jazz want Schroeder then they’ll be able to get him.  The highest I’ve seen him projected is #14 and I’ve even seen him going to the Jazz at #21.  He’s got a ton of potential but he’s not the kind of player that can step in and make an impact as a rookie.

 

 

 

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