With the 2018 NBA Draft swiftly approaching on June 21st, it’s time to break down the top prospects at each position starting with the top ten point guards.
1. Trae Young, Oklahoma
Young turned heads throughout his freshman season at Oklahoma. He averaged obscene numbers for a freshman in a major conference putting up 27.4 points, 8.7 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. He started off the season extremely well, but fell off a bit, especially in terms of efficiency, as the season continued and teams figured out how to contain him. Because he was by far the best player on his team, he shot more than all but one player last season. He also showed questionable shot selection at times, as he would often force long jump shots, to the tune of 10 three point attempts per game. Now, NBA executives must figure out whether early season Young or late season Young is closer to the one they can expect over his NBA career. Despite his small stature, he is the most skilled point guard available in this draft. While he will have to adjust to playing around more talent, Young should be able to really help a team. He gets compared to Steph Curry because of his creative style of play and penchant for taking, and occasionally making, long, difficult shots. However, don’t expect him to have the same impact on a team as Curry. With that being said, he projects as a starting caliber point guard, and possibly a stand out one.
2. Collin Sexton, Alabama
Sexton is widely considered the second best point guard in this draft class. While he didn’t put up the same caliber of numbers as Young, he brings a blend of all-around skills, intensity, athleticism, and flashiness. Sexton combines high level competitiveness with a desire to put on a show. He works well with teammates and has better size than Young at 6‘2”, 185 pounds. Sexton will likely come into the league with less immediate expectations than a guy like Young, and thus might be able to exceed what’s expected of him despite being a potential top ten pick. He’s an explosive athlete that is also comfortable shooting from the outside. The are a wide array of opinions on him and it’s not out of the question that he could go before Young, or after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky
Gilgeous-Alexander has something those ahead of him on this list don’t: size. SGA stands 6’6” and has a wingspan of nearly seven feet. This allows him to see over defenders on offense and smother opposing guards. He also can defend either guard position. He averaged 14.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game at Kentucky. That balanced stat line shows that he can do a number of things on the court to help his team win. The concern with him however is that he will take time to develop as a point guard. He was way ahead of schedule as a shooter and drew rave reviews from coaches as Kentucky’s hardest worker. While Young and Sexton are clearly point guards, SGA will likely see time at both guard positions throughout his rookie season as he develops his point guard skills further.
4. Elie Okobo, France
Okobo is a player that has caught fire at just the right time to finish out the season, including a 43 point effort. He is a player that can score in a variety of ways and uses his ability to score off the bounce to set up his offense. He can get to the rim and once defenders start to play him for that, can hit them with a pull up. However, despite his scoring prowess, he lacks some of the skills teams want from their point guards. He needs to improve in-game management and picking and choosing where the offense will attack. He needs to further progress in running the pick and roll as well. On the bright side, he can play some shooting guard alongside a traditional point guard and be a scorer for a team. He’s a bit raw, but is a guy that a team could develop over time and is trending in the right direction.
5. Landry Shamet, Wichita State
Unlike the previous four point guards on this list, Shamet spent multiple years in college honing his skills. As a result, while he may lack the explosive scoring, athleticism, or physical tools as Young, Sexton, or SGA, he should come into the league with a more refined skill set. That is even more important as a point guard, where Shamet will be asked to come in and run a team from the get go. Shamet developed very nicely over his three years in college, raising his scoring, rebounding, and assist averages each season. He has good size, standing six foot four, and is a dangerous shooter. He doesn’t get as much publicity as some of the other guys on his list, but he could surprise many casual fans during his rookie season.
6. Aaron Holiday, UCLA
Holiday is a skilled player who averaged over 20 points and just short of 6 assists last season at UCLA, but he is no sure thing. He can shoot from the outside and has some fantastic ball handling ability, but will have to show that he can truly run a team, getting teammates involved at the right time, and initiating offenses. Holiday could certainly develop into a player that could help a team, as a scorer off the bench. He will have to show teams that he’s able to cut down on his tendency to turn the ball over as he averaged nearly 4 turnovers per contest last season.
7. Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Brunson was the National Player of the Year while leading the NCAA champions, yet somehow he’s the most overlooked point guard in the class. He’s just not the flashiest of players and therefore most see him as a future backup and a 2nd round talent at best. He isn’t the biggest or most athletic prospect, and that’s why he gets overlooked a little bit, but he is probably the best point guard in this draft in terms of running his team, implementing a game plan, and he plays an exceptionally smart brand of basketball. He raised his efficiency in nearly every category, becoming a deadly outside shooter as well as a distributor and the overall success of his team is absolutely undeniable.
8. Trevon Duval, Duke
Duval was put in an awkward position. He enrolled in Duke expecting to have one good year and leave for the pros. Instead, he had a decent, albeit uneven, year at Duke which exposed that despite some strong points to his game, his shot was going to make it difficult for him to be picked in the furst round much less be a lottery pick. However, going back to Duke to further develop was a problem as he likely wouldn’t have been the starting point guard and he would have been overshadowed by a star-studded recruiting class. So he decided to declare for the draft and take his chances. He can distribute the ball and handles it well, but his lack of a consistent jumper can lead to him being a liability to his team. To compound matters, there are question marks regarding his overall feel for the game. There’s no guarantee he will land in the first round, but a team will take him hoping that he can develop his game and refine his shot. If he can do that, he’ll have a future in the league.
9. Tony Carr, Penn State
Carr is a player that has good size for the position at 6’4” and 200 pounds. In addition, he is a skilled playmaker that can do a number of things on the court, as he averaged 19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 5 assists last year. He shot 43% from deep last season and was able to draw some first round chatter late in the season. One of the big things holding him back is that he doesn’t possess ideal athleticism. He doesn’t have the explosive athleticism that a team would ideally like from its guards. Because of this, he struggles to finish amongst the big men inside, which is evident in his shooting a higher percentage from outside than inside the 3-point arch. He’s able to draw contact and get himself to the free throw line and often punishes smaller, weaker guards. However, he’ll have to develop an ability to get to advantageous positions on the court in order to benefit an NBA team.
10. Devonte Graham, Kansas
Graham was a winner at Kansas, and was a very good college player. During his senior campaign, he averaged 17 and 7 while winning Big 12 Player of the Year. Graham was able to lead the Jayhawks past Duke and into the Final Four, and shows a lot of big game confidence. However, he doesn’t project as a standout NBA player. Having spent four years in college, teams won’t view him as a player with a high ceiling, and he’s more of a “what you see is what you get” prospect. He isn’t a player that creates great opportunities for others, but his ability to create offense could be of value to certain teams coming off the bench as he develops.
Honorable Mention: Joel Berry 6-0 195 PG North Carolina Sr., Khadeen Carrington 6-3 195 SG Seton Hall Sr., Jevon Carter 6-1 195 PG West Virginia Sr., Chris Chiozza 6-0 175 PG Florida Sr., Eric Davis 6-3 195 PG/SG Texas Jr., Shannon Evans 6-0 165 PG Arizona St. Sr., Matt Farrell 6-1 175 PG Notre Dame Sr., Diego Flaccadori 6-4 175 PG/SG Aquila Basket Trento 1996, Conner Frankamp 6-1 170 PG Wichita State Sr., Ludde Hakanson 6-3 195 PG/SG Fuenlabrada 1996, Tra Holder 6-1 180 PG Arizona St. Sr., Manu Lecomte 5-11 175 PG Baylor Sr., Nate Mason 6-1 185 PG Minnesota Sr., Bryant McIntosh 6-3 185 PG Northwestern Sr., Jordan McLaughlin 6-0 175 PG USC Sr., JaQuan Newton 6-2 185 PG Miami Sr., Andrew Rowsey 5-11 180 PG Marquette Sr., Corey Sanders 6-1 185 PG Rutgers Jr., Quentin Snider 6-2 180 PG Louisville Sr., Issuf Sanon 6-4 190 PG/SG Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 1999, Thomas Wilder 6-3 190 PG Western Michigan Sr.