Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Draft Preview Part 3: Pointing the Way

It’s no secret that here at FBB headquarters, we are obsessed with point guards. And this year just happens to be a pretty deep year for point guards in the draft. We’ve already discussed Chris Paul, but there are a couple of other PG’s who are getting mid-to-high-lottery consideration, so let’s use part three of our Draft Preview to see what’s out there. But first, a history lesson:

Dwyane Wade - 16.2/4/4.5, 1.4 steals, .3 3PM in 34.9 mpg
Kirk Hinrich – 12/3.4/6.8, 1.3 steals, 1.9 3PM in 35.6 mpg
TJ Ford – 7.1/3.2/6.5, 1.1 steals, 0.1 3PM in 26.8 mpg
Marcus Banks – 5.9/1.6/2.2, 1.1 steals, 0.3 3PM in 17.1 mpg
Luke Ridnour – 5.5/1.6/2.4, 0.8 steals, 0.4 3PM in 16.1 mpg
Reece Gaines – 1.8/1/1.1, 0.3 steals, 0.1 3PM in 9.6 mpg
Troy Bell – his career lasted six games.

As you can see, I’ve listed the six PG’s who went top-16 in the 2003 draft, along with their corresponding statistics in their rookie year. If anything, this should prove to you that more often than not, highly drafted point guards will be ready to play, as opposed to a lot of big men who are simply drafted for their size more than their ability to contribute right away. In fact, until last year’s picks of Shaun Livingston and Sebastian Telfair, you rarely saw a PG taken early as a "project". While Banks and Ridnour didn’t put up major numbers, if you prorate their stats out to 40 mpg, they were pretty similar to Hinrich. TJ Ford was a health risk coming out of school and live up to those fears. As for Gaines and Bell, well, bad picks are bad picks.

Anyways, the point is (get it?), that put into the right situations, these guards listed below will be able to produce. Seeing as how they all play the same position, their best and worst case scenarios will be the same. So we’ll just take care of that first:

Best Case Scenario: Charlotte with the 5th pick. They might not stay there, but if they do, they can’t go wrong with a point guard. This team is desperate for a point and whoever (whomever?) they draft will be allowed to have some freedom in the offense as the #2 option behind Okafor.

Worst Case Scenario: Utah. Jerry Sloan showed us last year that he can sour on point guards pretty quickly. That’s what happens when you have John Stockton on your team for like 58 years – you expect every point guard to be like him. This is a situation that one of these players will likely be faced with, but it’s an unfortunate spot for them to land.

Raymond Felton

There are two ways to look at a guy like Felton. One way is to say that well, with all that talent around him at North Carolina, it made things so easy for him! Just about anybody could have had nice assist numbers, surrounded by at least 3, if not 4 future NBA players. The other way to look at it is that it’s a point guard’s responsibility to bring out the best in him teammates – and that he certainly did. He got 4 players other than himself to average double-digit points, while finding enough shots to knock down 1.9 3’s and chip in 12.9 ppg himself.

I tend to look at things the second way. He’s put in three years in the ACC, and he played well against tough competition in leading the Heels to the national championship, so he knows what it’s like to be on the big stage. People might worry about the last ACC PG to come out in the draft after winning a title surrounded by a strong team – Jay Williams – but that was a much different scenario. I like Felton to be very effective very quickly.

Deron Williams

Williams and Felton have been pretty much ranked right next to each other all offseason, and there’s a reason for that. They’re pretty damn similar, from their experience to their stats to their success in college. Everything that was said about Felton could be said about Williams. The only thing that makes me bump Williams down just a little bit is that he’s already trying to reshape himself by losing some weight. I get a little worried about guys trying to change themselves when what they’ve been doing has worked pretty well. It’s not a huge concern, but when you’re as neck-and-neck with a guy as Williams is with Felton, it’s enough to place you at number two.

Jarrett Jack

The only other point guard who is near-lock for the first round, Jack could end up going anywhere from the middle to the end of the round. He’s a clear step down from the other two names on this list, but remember, other PGs taken recently at the end of the first round include guys like Tony Parker and Dan Dickau, who didn’t exactly light it up their rookie years, but have developed. Last year, Jameer Nelson went 20 and Delonte West went 24, and both showed signs of being fantasy worthy, with Nelson even getting onto a number of fantasy rosters last year as he progressed.

The issue for Jack isn’t really his talent level as much as where he would find a starting gig in the second half of the round. Miami, Utah, and Houston are the only ones who don’t have a lock starter at PG, and he might start but not get more than 25 mins in Miami or Houston, while Utah should take a PG with their first pick. Don’t expect much out of Jack this year, but he’ll be somebody we’ll be watching should he step in for an injured starter this year.

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