Monday, June 23, 2008

The Best Position on the Court : Shooting Guard Draft Preview

Sup ya'll, this is RV, straight out of SLAM world and into the Hibachi spot. You'll have to excuse any grammar mistakes I missed since I'm stuck with WordPad for now. I did throw in a spanish lesson though, so ya'lls parents/wives/husbands don't trip when ya'll aren't studying/working instead of reading this.

Let me start by saying the shooting guard spot isn't what it was once was. The top guys at this position probably won't even play shooting guard for the rest of their careers. Many of them are combo guards or forwards who can play the two-guard spot. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it sure as hell made this list difficult. How do you decide who's a shooting guard and who isn't? Do I Let Yahoo! convince me that the 6'9 guy with not handles is a SG just because they list him as one? What about the guy they have ranked under their "Top 10 Shooting Guards", yet they have him listed as a FORWARD on his profile?? Ok that's enough hatin' on Yahoo! for now, but it really is confusing because then you have the guys who swear they can play the two and not just the one/three. So do you tell them they don't know their own skills? Then there are the experts (no not me, the ones who actually get paid- DP I take paypal!) who claim they know what spot a certain player will keep as a pro. How the hell do they know without knowing what team they're gonna play for?? So for this preview I basically stuck to these 2 rules:

1) They have to be 6'4 or taller, but no more than 6'7.
2) They have to have a decent handle (Sorry Kapono)

Of course there are always exceptions, but I think this works for this year's draft. Of course they have to be able to shoot the ball, but I didn't kill them off just because they weren't pure shooters. That being said, we have some slashers, some shooters, and some scorers. Finally, let me point out this is my own personal top 10 ranking and not what most analysts have listed. The only thing that's not me is the projections mentioned. Also, this isn't ranked based on the order they'll be drafted, but more on the impact I think they'll have in the NBA (but its almost the same thing).
The Top dawgs

Numero Uno : O.J. Mayo

Specs - 6'4, 205 lbs, 20 yrs old

Next year, don't expect anyone to hold the mayo. O.J. Mayo, that is (corny, I know, but at least this won't be the last mayo joke you hear). The hype has surrounded him since elementary school and hasn't left yet. There was even talk about him being good enough to declare for the draft as a high school JUNIOR, and this was before he had Tim Grover and Synergy Sports Technology sitting in his corner. Yes, the same Tim Grover who trained His Airness, Dream, and No Tippin' Pippen. Grover is using Synergy technology to help Mayo model his game after the NBA players he'll most resemble. Mayo gets all kinds of video breakdown of players' moves and stats, allowing him not only to practice them for several hours on the floor, but also prepare himself to defend them next year. Synergy ain't no joke, so don't be surprised if they're calling him Derauncy Willups by next spring. With a name like Mayo, he HAS to be good, right? Right. Did I also mention how marketable this guy will be? He's probably finding dollar bills inside his fortune cookies already. Current projection is top 5.

Pros - practices using extensive repetitions, so his shot mechanics and moves are consistent and sharp from play to play ..... good court vision ..... prolific scorer ...... good ball and body control ...... can play both guard spots ..... great shooter with range .... good defender.... confident ...

Cons - needs the ball to be effective ...... height, if going up against two-guards ..... too much one-on-one instead of team ball at times ..... can be turnover-prone (but i think this was mainly due to him trying to do too much, should be more efficient surrounded by professionals).... little experience at the college level..

Most likely to ..... give Pat Riley an erection

Least likely to ..... understand why KG stayed in Minny (This guy wants to WIN, if the W's aren't happening, he's gone, I don't care if he does say otherwise)

Final judgment - Mayo has all-star written all over and seems to be on the right track to play in the mid-season classic one day. How many times he gets there depends on how committed he is mentally to the game. Lately he's showing all the right signs. When it comes to Rose and Beasley there's the question of , "Can they learn to do this and that?" With Mayo, you know he can do whatever is needed as a combo guard. Don't be surprised if he goes #2.

Numero Dos : Brandon Rush

Specs - 6'7, 211 lbs, 22 yrs old

I guess the NBA is all about stats afterall, because I dont know how this guy is projected to go until the mid to late first round. Yeah, sure he only scored 13 per during the season, but what is this guy lacking? He can shoot, drive, defend, rebound, pass, jump, run, and did i mention he's 6'7 with a 6'11 wingspan??? Physically he's perfect for an NBA shooting guard/small forward. He's got all the skills for it too. If he had a more unique name like Mayo I wouldn't hesitate to put him at #1 on this list. Why? Well, because when the media and fans easily recognize your name and you're well known you tend to play even better so you can live up to the fame. However, not wanting to be known as "Kareem's brother" is motivation enough for him to succeed. He's currently projected to go around 15-21.

Pros - great size and length ..... moves well without the ball to get open shots or rebounds .... .. confident ..... good shot ..... can get above the rim ..... finishes well in the open court .... good defender ..

Cons - other than sharpening his handle, he really doesn't have any, i guess a torn ACL a year ago is bad, but bad for the competition since he scored 25pts on the #1 ranked team in the nation to lead his team to the title game ...... then there's that talk about him not dominating when he can and coasting, at times, but who needs to dominate on a well rounded Kansas team? Even Kobe and KG took their foot off the gas at times this year...
Most likely to .... force the Rockets to trade up
Least likely to .... disappoint an NBA team
Final judgment - I won't go as far as predicting he'll be a superstar in the NBA, but I wouldn't bet against it either. Like I mentioned, this guy has an all-around game along with an NBA-ready body and that's not something many of this year's lottery picks can claim. Whether he can launch himself into the superstar category or not depends on what team he goes to, but that's difficult to predict. ANY team could use this guy, rebuilding or not. I'm just hoping no one believes me so my hometown team can pick him up. (Rumors of the rockets moving up are swirling as I type this!!!)

Numero Tres : Eric Gordon

Specs - 6'3, 215 lbs, 19 yrs old.

Gordon is being compared with another player who shares his last name, Ben Gordon. I can see the similarities, but Eric is more explosive and won't be as prone to bad shooting nights like Ben. A big question is if this guy has the ability to hang with NBA two-guards. He's got the skills, but will likely give up 2-3 inches every night. Turning him into a pg is still a possibility, but that'll depend on the players who surround him. With time and the right team I think he can excel at the two-guard though. His stock has been roller coasting since the beginning of the year, currently he's projected anywhere between 5 and 8.
Pros - squares up beautifully when shooting the ball, great shot and follow through....strong, attacks WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE! (had to do it), so he gets to the FT line often.....great leaping ability...confident...good body control out in the perimeter...can shoot off of screens....low center of gravity allows for quick change of direction on offense and defense ...

Cons - can force bad shots due to his attacking mentality....very young and a tweener due to his height....body control is not always there when finishing since he attacks WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE! (it never gets old)....needs to improve passing and rebounding abilities...handle could still be better...

Most likely to ...... fall 7 times, stand up 8

Least likely to ...... get up 9 after getting leveled by Shaq
Final judgment - Don't expect this kid to make a big splash his rookie year. However, in time, with the right system, he can be a really nice scorer and he's got the talent to become a decent passer. I just don't see him sticking at the 2 for too long. He'll have to find a team that can use him as a scoring point in order for him to really flourish on both ends of the court.

Numero Cuatro : Russell Westbrook

Specs - 6'3, 187 lbs, 19 yrs old

Yeah, yeah, i know, I broke rule #1 since Westbrook is only 6'3, but we had to make a late adjustment for this guy since he didn't get the memo saying he can't be an NBA two-guard at 6'3. Gordon is only 6'4 so I guess it could happen, but a bigger concern is his thin frame weighs only 187 pounds. He's still strong for his size, but momentum can be a bitch when you bounce off a center, so a few hours in the weight room couldn't hurt. The good news is he carries a trampoline everywhere he goes to make up for his lack of height. He literally shoots up the first few feet off the floor so quickly that its difficult for a defender to react before he's posterized. He's a 5-10 pick for sure.

Pros - lightning quick.....magically athletic..... long wingspan and huge hands.....unselfish....good
ball-handler on the drive..... good defensive anticipation and defends very well overall .....constantly improving....can run an offense, make the obvious pass...

Cons - size.....he has more than enough room to improve his shooting (FG, 3pt, and FT).....could use some more experience.... should improve ball handling to play the point full time..... release on his shot is a bit slow, at his height it would benefit him to shoot more quickly..
....not a great playmaker for others

Most Likely to ...... get pushed into the dunk contest just because he's short(er)

Least Likely to ....... keep playing the shooting guard position

Final judgment - Here's a guy who isn't a lock to be an all-star player down the road, but his freakish athletecism and potential has several teams thinking they can make an all-star out of him. At 19 its still possible he might grow an inch or two, so that's another reason to take this guy top 10. At his current size though I don't think he can be a full time shooting guard and he's too talented to be forced to distribute the ball half the time as a point guard. I agree with what most sites are saying, and that is he'll be similar to Leandro Barbosa or Monta Ellis in how he plays and how he is used.
The Middle Men

Numero Cinco : Chris Douglas-Roberts

Specs - 6'7, 200 lbs, 21 yrs old

Chris Douglas-Roberts. Chris Douglas-Roberts. This man's game is an exact reflection of his name. Long, solid , and confident. Don't look for him to jump over snakes or cars in commercials though. There will be no profanity-laced post game interivews either. CDR is a humble, well spoken, and a well-liked guy. This guy could go right after the lottery picks or slip to the end of the 1st round. It all depends on what teams want. If they want a long wing with an all around game, CDR is the man for the job, even if he does move around the court like Mr. Burns. I think he's a Spurs type of guy and could be a good fit there. Current projection is a bit tricky, anywhere between 15 and 30 is possible.

Pros - good shooter from the field and FT line ...confident ....variety of moves ..... good leaper ... great slashing ability .... plays well with both hands ... aggressive ..... efficient ..... long wingspan and overall frame .... crafty scorer, can drive it in or shoot it from the outside .... enough forward and lateral speed to defend well

Cons - Not a lot of lift on his shots/drives and often leans into the defender, this may be a problem against the bigger and more athletic NBA wingmen.....His handle can be a little loose in the open court....his shot isn't pure, the mechanics vary a bit since he's not stand-up shooter like a Ray Allen so shoots differently at times (see: NCAA championship game free throws)....needs to bulk up (apparently he's put on weight this offseason, but I don't think he'll be able to maintain it once the season starts)
Most likely to ..... draw fines from the NBA for wearing an undershirt. Apparently he has to have one or he feels "naked".

Least likely to ..... get into a fight with Stephen Jax, his favorite NBA player

Final judgment - This guy has been steadily improving and expanding his game for the last few years, so i don't expect that to stop anytime soon. He'll continue to work while in the league and although he may never become a star, i think he'll be a solid sixth man or a starter on certain teams.

Numero Seis : Courtney Lee

- 6'5, 200 lbs, 22 yrs old

Courtney Lee seems to know exactly who he is and what he brings to the table. He's got the all around fundamental game to adapt to any situation, but he also knows his limitations. His stock is probably not as high as it could be, since he didn't face tough competition consistently enough in Western Kentucky's conference. This kid is a tough guy though, he's faced hurdles in his career and yet was able to keep going strong. Losing out on attending a major program after high school didn't hurt his confidence. The death of his best friend on the W. Kentucky team as a freshman didn't hurt his game. Having to switch to point guard for a season due to poor recruiting didn't faze him either as he led his conference in assists that year. Right now he's a late first rounder, 22-28.
Pros - shoots well, good form ..... 4 yrs of college experience ..... good fundamentals .....
solid defender.....well-rounded offensively, can drop a 3, hit a 15 foot pull-up J, or take it to the rim..... team player ..... plays within the flow of the game....

Cons - although 6'5, not exceptionally long ...... doesn't do anything too great (except for shooting) and probably never will ........ may have hit his ceiling already .....not a slasher...

Most Likely to ..... fool defenders his first NBA year (dude's a righty, but prefers going left)

Least Likely to ..... take his rookie year for granted (slacked off early in high school, which cost him the opportunity to attend a big time program)

Final judgment - What you see is what you get with Courtney Lee. There's not much untapped potential to marvel at or freakish athleticism to drool over. This guy is simply a solid and well-rounded player who is good enough now to contribute in the NBA as a role player. He''ll make a solid contribution every night and you don't often hear that about a late first rounder.

Numero Siete : Gary Forbes

Specs - 6'7, 220 lbs, 23 years old

I liked Forbe's game even before I heard he was tearing things up at the Orlando pre-draft workouts. I saw some of his workout in Portland and this guy is definitely NBA ready. He was putting up a point per minute in like 20-25 minutes of play. That being said, I can't stress enough how this guy is always in attack mode and needs his touches. I'm tempted to shoot him up to numero cinco on this list, but these "middle men" are practically interchangeable to me as far as impact is concerned, with CDR edging them out.

Pros - great ball handler.....nice shot.....physical... can finish strong.....good NBA size.....can take his man off the dribble with one quick move.....uses his body well to shield and create space.....good attitude....

Cons - needs a lot of touches/shots to get going and be effective....can turn the ball over at times due to his aggressivenes....might be at his ceiling.....sometimes can try to do too much...

Most Likely to ...... force teams to think twice about their current second round picks
Least Likely to ...... back down from a tough offensive matchup

Final judgment - In past years, others have torn up the competition in pre-draft workouts and still flunked out of the NBA, but I think Forbes has enough skills to get a passing grade. Its too early to tell if he can translate his prolific scoring during the workouts to the NBA, but I wouldn' t be surprised if he scored 18 per eventually. If he can land in a situation where he has the green light to shoot then he could really breakout.

Numero Ocho : Bryce Taylor

Specs - 6'5, 210, 21 yrs old
Bryce Taylor is going to surprise a lot of people. Yes, you heard it here first. Bryce Taylor. Bryce Taylor. Remember that name, but not because his jersey will be selling out in the near future. I don't expect this second round pick to become a sensation or hall of famer or anything even close, BUT I do think he'll achieve more than people expect. Remember Cuttino Mobley? Yes, unfortunately I do too. I'm not comparing these guys' playing style or saying Taylor will start to lose his hair at 26 yrs, but I think they'll have a similar career. Both second round picks who shot their way into the team's starting lineup. Then were traded a few times. Not because they couldn't play, but because they're that player who's not irreplaceable, but has skills that are useful and therefore are moveable. Projections show him as a late second rounder as of draft week.

Pros - coach's son....nice all around game, can defend, shoot, pass, and rebound ......intelligent player..... great shooting mechanics ....has good speed and can drive past a defender ..... good leaping ability....solid player.....

Cons - "only" 6'5, which can be considered a bit undersized at the 2.....first few years at Oregon the team had plenty of other talents so Taylor was stuck as a spot up shooter and he's only broken out from that mentality within the last year....

Most Likely to ...... haunt teams if they pass on him early in the second round

Least Likely to ...... get a leg cramp (he took classes in pilates and yoga while at Oregon)

Final judgment - Here's another guy i'm hoping the Rockets can steal, so you know i'm serious about what I've written. As you can see he doesn't have many weaknesses and those that he has can be overcome with some hardwork. As a coach's son, it's a sure bet he's got the work ethic to make it possible. Look for him to have a long career as a solid bench guy in the NBA.

The "I Needed 10 Guys So I Threw These 2 In" Duo
Numero Nueve : J.R. Giddens

Specs - 6'5, 200lbs, 23 yrs old

Giddens is somewhat of a Youtube legend because of his dunks. That would be good for someone like me who's not even close to being invited to a pre-draft workout, but for a college ball player it shouldn't be the reason why everyone knows your name. He's intense, exciting and can jump out of the gym, but I think teams are starting to shy away from these types of players. He's got a decent J, can give you some solid D, and can snatch boards with his long arms, but there's a lot more he has to work on before he's given a spot on a team. He's had off the court problems in the past and although he says its behind him now, it's right in front of most teams' player profiles. Should go in the second round, projected as an early to mid-second rounder.

Pros - good shooter from the field .... long wingspan ..... good rebounder ...intense..... NBA athleticism...... nice jumper with high release .......greater leaper ..... decent defender

Cons - questions about his attitude and decision making .... horrible free throw shooter...... ball handling could use improvement ......... doesn't penetrate well .....older than most picks.... must be more consistent on both ends ....

Most Likely to .... try a FT dunk in the final seconds of a blowout

Least Likely to .... lay up the ball (he dunks EVERYTHING close to the rim)

Final judgment - Giddens' athleticism got him here, but it might just keep him from making an NBA team full-time. He's so long and athletic he spends too much time dunking or shooting long distance bombs. This has kept him from having to drive the ball or develop some offensive moves. Its possible he can still learn though and he's certainly capable of it with some work, His poor FT shooting is a mystery considering he shoots well during play. It's possibly just lack of practice and/or all in his head. Given his attitude issues in the past and passion for highlight dunks, I don't think he'll expand his game enough to a be a complete player. Make sure you check him out in the NBDL dunk contest.

Numero Diez : Kyle Weaver
Specs - 6'6, 200 lbs, 22 yrs old

After seeing an interview with Weaver and his down to earth parents, I really wanted to like this kid as a pro ball player. He is grounded, well spoken, mature, and just glad to be playing ball. He's also into helping out the local community and exploring his heritage. Perfect role model, right? Right, but just not as a ball player. This dude's offensive game is stuck in high school. He loves playing D, which isn't very common with some of the young guys, but that alone isn't gonna get it done (although some "experts" seem to think so). Don't get me wrong either. The kid has skills, but I don't think they're going to work against quick guards and NBA big men coming over to help. He plays like he's got one of those training resistance bands pulling him back. He doesn't get very high on his shots and he's a bit slow on the dribble. He's got some nice moves that get him open, but those moves also worked for me at the local playground. When he shoots he pushes the ball forward from his chest and with a slow release. It can be accurate, but only from 15 feet in, which we all know is big man territory in the NBA, and since he's built like Darius Miles I don't expect him to visit that area too often. Projected as a mid-second rounder.

Pros - great defender...nice crossover and hesitation dribbles.....humble and team-oriented... solid handle....good court vision.....good FT shooter...

Cons - very thin, often ends up on the floor on just minor contact....not a good outside shooter.... not explosive.....unusual shooting form might be difficult to get off against good defenders..

Most Likely to .... get locked inside the weight room by the coach
Least Likely to .... go in the first round (from this list)

Final judgment - I actually hope Weaver proves me wrong because he's a really good guy who'd do great things with his NBA millions, but.........I think his offense is too big of a liability to keep as a shooting guard. He might work out as a point guard if paired up with a monster two-guard, or even a scoring pg, but he doesn't have much control over that. I think he'll end up riding the NBDL, but should get some opportunities in the NBA.


Let me point out I originally had Shan Foster listed as numero ocho, but then i realized we were gonna go with Russell Westbrook as a SG and not a PG so i decided to bump Foster off since there isn't much to him. All you have to know about him is dude is 6'6, 205 lbs, 21 yrs old, has no handle, no real moves, a bit slow on D, BUT he shoots bullets into the basket from the 3 point line. If any team needs a halftime show 3-point shooting exhibition, then he's in! Current projection is mid second round.


RV said...

I hope y'all like the fancy colors cus there's no way in hell i'm doing that again LOL, the spacing kept screwing up too..

Hursty said...

RV, I had the same problem with the spacing too. Your piece.... That shit is off the chain man. I feel really bad about my preview now. I heart you in a manly way but not really because you pissed me off after doing yuor amazing preview. That was fu(king awesome. The colours were pretty.

DP said...

HELL YEA! Bachi 2.0 is in session. I love this preview and like hurst said, it makes mine feel like sh*t. lol. This is what I call an in-depth draft preview and it feels damn good to have you on the team, RV.

AR said...

By your criteria,AI isn't a SG.
Brandon Rush is a SF.
Everything else was fantastic.

Hursty said...

I said Rush was a swingman. He seems like he'll play minutes in both slots esp. the first couple of years. (if he gets P.T in the first place).

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