Today we will look at the Early Entry candidates at the Point Guard Position. Check the links here and here for the 2 part look at big men who have declared for the draft.
This year’s group is headlined by a pair of Freshmen Kentucky point guards – John Wall and Eric Bledsoe - and a few players testing the draft waters but not ready for the NBA – Jimmer Fredette and Tommy Mason-Griffin.
John Wall - Kentucky (6’4, 195) – Freshman – Arguably the best player in the country, and more than likely the No. 1 pick in the draft, Wall provided an exciting season for basketball fans everywhere. One of the fastest players I have ever seen, combined with great body control and leaping ability, Wall has the potential to be the an elite NBA player. His biggest weakness is his outside shot, which should improve over time. Defensively, he has the quickness to gamble often, which leads to his biggest strength – the transition game. While he may not be able to be gamble as much at the NBA level, he will keep offensive players honest with his quick hands. He will most likely be the #1 pick, so good decision coming out.
Eric Bledsoe - Kentucky – (6’1, 190) – Freshman – The less-heralded of the Kentucky point guard duo, Bledsoe showed enough skill and potential to make the jump to the NBA after 1 year as well. Bledsoe is a better perimeter shooter than Wall, though there is still room for improvement. He has good court vision and does a good job penetrating, though he often finds himself caught in the lane. Defensively, he is a good on-ball defender and can be disruptive with his speed. While it would have been nice to see him run the team next year in Wall’s absence, he will be a 1st round pick, so good decision. 1st Round, 15-25.
Jimmer Fredette - BYU – (6’2, 195) – Junior – Fredette was little known outside of hardcore fans and scouts when the season started. Then came a 49 point explosion against Arizona in late December; all of a sudden everyone wanted to see Fredette. There is no doubt that the man can score in many ways – he penetrates easily, goes strong to the basket and draws fouls, and has good range on his jump shot. More of a combo guard than a point guard, Fredette needs to work on his point guard skills. He sees the court well, though he often is thinking shot first and misses open men. At the NBA level, he may have difficulty getting his shot off against larger guards. Defensively, he needs a lot of work and would have a tough time defending NBA level point guards. He needs to improve his foot speed and lateral quickness to at least show a semblance of guarding pro-level guards. Should come back for his senior year and work on these things and he can be a potential late-first round pick. For now, Late 2nd Round – Undrafted.
Tommy Mason-Griffin - Oklahoma – (5’11, 203) – Freshman – Mason-Griffin was a surprise entry into this year’s draft, though a lot may have had to do with the dysfunction of the Oklahoma program. While he did step up his production once Willie Warren injured himself, he was far from efficient. He relied mainly on 3 point shots and transition baskets, rarely venturing below the foul line in a half-court set. He is solidly built, so he should be able to withstand punishment when he penetrates. Because of his lack of height, his court vision is not great, and often has to rely on screens to get the ability to see his teammates. His decision-making on pick and rolls needs work, though he did improve over the season. Defensively, he is a good on ball defender, and does a good job harassing opponents on the perimeter. His height can be a problem, as he often can be shot over, or he gets caught in screens. Is not ready for the next level. Late 2nd round – Undrafted.
Armon Johnson - Nevada – (6’3, 195) – Junior – Johnson has proved to be a steady, efficient point guard, keeping the Nevada offense moving and making his teammates look good. He runs the pick and roll well, and has a good first step to the basket. He needs to work on his perimeter shooting, especially his range from 17 feet out. Johnson is an average defender, doing a good job staying between his man and the basket, though he doesn’t have outstanding foot speed. Hopefully he will go back to Nevada next year and improve on these issues, because he has late first round potential. For now, Early to Mid-Second round, 35-50.
I am leaving Evan Turner and Darington Hobson out of this group, and I will review them in tomorrow’s group - Shooting/Combo Guards.