Point guards have become increasingly important in the NBA as more than just “coach on the floor types” but scoring guards who can morph a defense to their will and create opportunities for themselves as well as their teammates. Now and perhaps more than ever, point guards have been the focal points of scoring for teams competing in May and June due to the pace and space play of open floors and high pick and rolls. What this year’s draft lacks in high scoring point guards it brings in depth of point guards able to build careers as solid backup point guards. For more in depth analyses, full scouting reports are hyperlinked to each player's name except Jalen Lecque who, being at a prep school, is not yet in the Fanteractive system.
Ja Morant (Murray State, Sophomore)
College Stats: 24.5 PTS…5.7 RBS…10.0 AST…49.9 FG%...33.6 3P%...81.0 FT%
Measurements: 6’3”(N/A), 175 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 2
Prediction: Starter/All Star
Ja Morant is in a tier of his own among this year’s point guards, even proclaiming to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, “I am a point god.” Morant is a creative passer able to control games without scoring. His ability to read defense and react and find teammates accordingly is an elite skill that will carry him as a starter in the NBA. He throws lobs from either foul line, finds cutters with bounce passes, hits shooters off drives in the chest, and finds big men in pick and rolls. Morant does not have the prettiest jump shot, he does not get much lift and his release is almost two handed, but he has shown a strong ability to open shots when he has time to get his release off. Morant is a strong finisher, being able to play above the rim and through contact and will rely on his soft touch to score and put pressure on NBA defenses. Defensively, Morant needs to make a more consistent and concerted effort to hold his own against NBA point guards. Lowering his defensive stance and building muscle will allow Morant to utilize the lateral quickness and steadiness he shows on offense to pressure ballhandlers over and around pick and rolls and containing isolation situations. Morant will find immediate success facilitating and playmaking for higher level players than he was surrounded with at college while his long-term potential as an All-Star player depends on his physical development and his ability to create his own shots as well as shots for others.
Comparisons: Ricky Rubio, Russell Westbrook
Darius Garland (Vanderbilt, Freshman)
College Stats: 16.2 PTS…3.8 RBS…2.6 AST…53.7 FG%...47.8 3P%...75.0 FT%
Measurements: 6’2”(N/A), 175 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 4-7
Prediction: Starter/All Star
Darius Garland is the highest rated mystery in this year’s draft, climbing up draft boards post injury because of his impressive shooting and ballhandling ability as well as the drop off in team production post injury. Garland was the 16th rated prospect in his high school class according to ESPN despite being the highest rated point guard. In limited sample size, Garland played like the modern NBA point guard scoring first and facilitating for his teammates second in high IQ pick and roll play. Garland used pick and rolls in a variety of ways showing a versatility and unpredictability that will be the basis of his scoring ability at the next level. With his average size and slight frame, Garland will need to put on muscle to be able to finish against NBA length and will need to use that ability to unlock his shooting ability. Garland is a strong ballhandler using a plethora of crossovers and in and out dribbles along with speed to shake defenders for open jump shots or open teammates. Defensively, quick hands and lateral speed will allow Garland to disrupt offenses off the ball but will need to improve keeping opponents in front of him and putting pressure on ballhandlers. Garland has All Star potential but will likely end up in the second or third tier of NBA point guards while furthering ushering in this new era of players who can shoot from anywhere off the dribble and unlock open teammates from beyond the three-point line.
Comparisons: Damian Lillard, Quinn Cook
Coby White (North Carolina, Freshman)
College Stats: 16.1 PTS…3.5 RBS…4.1 AST…42.2 FG%...35.3 3P%...80.0 FT%
Measurements: 6’4.75”(6’5”), 191.4 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 6-10
Coby White is a work in progress at the point guard position having just begun playing it in college. White is a strong three-point shooter, though his low starting point leaves questions about how effective his shot can be against longer and faster defenders. White will immediately have an effect in transition using hit ahead passes, burst by speed, and a slithering ability to get to the rim at will. White will need to get better finishing through contact, but he does a good job staying composed against length. Big for a point guard, White can see the court over screens and needs to do a better job using pick and rolls for playmaking and making offense easier for his teammates rather than settling for three-point shots. White is used to having the ball in his hands, which showed in his awkward stagnant play off the ball and will need room to grow upon entering the NBA. White’s assist numbers were largely predicated on hit ahead passes and offensive system and will need to prove he can get teammates involved to be a consistent starting point guard. White needs to improve his defensive footwork to contain ballhandlers around screens as well as refine rotations and reads on passing lanes. White has a lot of room to grow and will be best suited playing around other playmakers.
Comparisons: Eric Bledsoe, Terry Rozier, Jeff Teague
Ty Jerome (Virginia, Junior)
College Stats: 13.6 PTS…4.2 RBS…5.5 AST…43.5 FG%...39.9 3P%...73.6 FT%
Measurements: 6’5.5”(6’4”), 194.4 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 25-35
Ty Jerome is a poised pass-first point guard who can hit an open shot, involve all four teammates in pick and roll play and competes defensively. Jerome is a meticulous pick and roll ballhandler, rarely ceding any advantage created and often doubling down to create great shots for his teammates or scoring if needed. Jerome’s greatest strength is found in his footwork seen in his efficient pick and roll play and defensive grit forcing ballhandlers away from screens and defending off the ball both against guards and bigs. Jerome lead one of the winningest programs in college basketball and has a high floor as a backup point guard who can coexist with other playmaking guards because of his size and defensive IQ.
Comparisons: Corey Joseph, Fred VanVleet, Malcolm Brogdon
Luguentz Dort (Arizona State, Freshman)
College Stats: 16.1 PTS…4.3 RBS…2.3 AST…40.5 FG%...30.7 3P%...70.0 FT%
Measurements: 6’4.25”(6’8.5”), 222.2 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 25-40
Luguentz Dort is a raw lead guard with a chiseled frame and high defensive IQ. Dort will find his NBA role through his high motor, footwork, speed and athleticism on the defensive end where he can lock down guards, draw charges, and make crisp rotations and close outs. Dort is an unrefined offensive player who relies on athleticism and speed along with a few crossovers and a high arcing jump shot that needs a few tweaks. He does not have great touch around the basket and his jump shot has a wide variance missing left, right, short, or bricks. Dort is at his best attacking closeouts as a secondary playmaker who passes well to rollers in pick and rolls and can use his combination of size, speed, and athleticism to attack defenses. He needs to improve reading rotating and secondary defenders and make crisper decisions with the ball in his hand. Dort has lockdown potential on defense, but his NBA career will depend on his improvement on the offensive end.
Comparisons: Isaiah Whitehead, Emmanuel Mudiay
Carsen Edwards (Purdue, Junior)
College Stats: 24.3 PTS…3.6 RBS…2.9 AST…39.4 FG%...35.5 3P%...83.7 FT%
Measurements: 6’0.25”(6’6”), 199.4 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 30-40
Carsen Edwards busted brackets and raised his draft stock with an NCAA Tournament consistently being compared to Steph Curry’s run. Edwards does not have the creativity, ballhandling, or shot making Steph Curry has shown throughout his NBA career, but profiles more as a bench scoring threat reliant on three-point shooting like Seth Curry, Steph’s younger brother. Edwards can shoot with range on the move whether off the dribble or off off ball screens paired with speed that should allow him to become a better playmaker in pick and rolls, a role he did not exploit in college most often using screens to score or make simple passes to rolling big men. Additionally, Edwards will need to improve his creativity as he relies on straight line drives and was not efficient around the basket going at bigger defenders. There are signs that Edwards can be a better playmaker with a different role as he is a willing passer when he is not scoring. Defensively, if he can use his long wingspan to get into passing lanes and pressure ballhandlers more he will find time running bench units and playing with starters.
Comparisons: Patty Mills, Seth Curry
Tremont Waters (Louisiana State University, Sophomore)
College Stats: 15.3 PTS…2.8 RBS…5.8 AST…43.0 FG%...32.7 3P%...81.3 FT%
Measurements: 5’10.75”(6’2.25”), 172.4 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 50-Undrafted
Tremont Waters is prototypical point guard: pure, poised, pass-first. Waters does a great job controlling tempo despite his lack of size and strength using a mix of change of speeds, crossovers, screens, jump shooting, passing, and driving. Waters uses speed to get by slower defenders and shifty ballhandling to get past faster defenders and shows a strong ability playmaking and finding open teammates. Due to his small frame, many of his turnovers were open teammates that he could not capitalize on and he will need to build more muscle to reach a consistent point as a second unit leader. Waters has a smooth jump shot that allow him to capitalize in the midrange on great ballhandling and can shoot it with range. He has soft touch on floaters and layups and knows how to make up for his weakness playing through contact. He needs to improve on ball defense and rotations in help often playing denial-style defense two or three passes away. Waters competes and does not allow bigger players to post him up fronting the post and getting steals.
Comparisons: Frank Mason, Shabazz Napier
Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s, Junior)
College Stats: 19.7 PTS…4.1 RBS…5.1 AST…45.3 FG%...35.3 3P%...83.6 FT%
Measurements: 6’0.5”(6’3.5”), 180.0 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 45-Undrafted
Shamorie Ponds is a shifty shot creator and playmaker at his best getting steals and deflections and creating easy opportunities in transition. Ponds does well in pick and rolls finding big men and shooters in each corner or using the advantage to score on his own. Ponds lacks blow by speed, high flying athleticism, and brute force strength, but his ability to change speeds and change directions leads to offensive openings. Ponds is a creative finisher and makes smart decisions when attacking big men using floaters, wrong foot layups and up and under moves. His soft touch translates to the foul line and his jump shot but will need to increase his range to make a difference in the NBA. Ponds is small even at the point guard position and often seemed allergic to on ball defense switching at the sight of a screen or rotating before the pass could make it to his man. Ponds will provide a spark off the bench and is capable of a high scoring game or two and will be a perfect fit for a team that runs a lot of high pick and rolls especially with a creative center setting screens.
Comparisons: Jeremy Lin
Jaylen Hands (University of California, Los Angeles, Sophomore)
College Stats: 14.2 PTS…3.7 RBS…6.1 AST…41.3 FG%...37.3 3P%...78.0 FT%
Measurements: 6’3”(6’5.5”), 180.4 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 50-Undrafted
Jaylen Hands is a prototypical point guard in play and size. He is a pass-first player with above average court vision and an array of dribble moves to get to his spots on the floor. Needs to prove he can play man defense after playing zone in college and improve defensively beyond quick hands and speedy feet. Hands needs to improve on his passing ability and strengthen his decision making to reign in turnovers and be a more effective point guard who can capitalize on morphed defenses. Hands has a nice jump shot and will be able to shoot from NBA range. Hands will have to find a niche as a third point guard on a team valuable to head bench units, facilitate, and get teammates involved.
Comparisons: Shelvin Mack, Tyus Jones
Jalen Lecque (Brewster Academy, 2000)
College Stats: N/A
Measurements: 6’4.25”(6’8.5”), 185.2 lbs.
Expected Draft Range: 45-60
Jalen Lecque is a raw point guard prospect that a team will certainly take a swing on late in the second round for his size and athleticism. Lecque is forgoing college for the draft, so he has not played much against high level competition anywhere comparable to that of the NBA. Lecque has burst by speed, explosive leaping ability and a hunger for making posters. Lecque’ s jump shot is questionable with a high release slightly above the line of his hair and a high arc but his soft touch around the basket on layups and floaters are an encouraging sign that his shot making ability can improve. He will need to prove that he can play defense against athletes of his caliber and is a project that will need a few years to frame into an NBA point guard. Lecque will have difficulty finding consistent minutes until he can provide as a playmaker.
Comparisons: Dennis Smith Jr, Trevon Duval