Next up on our positional rankings for 2016 NBA Draft prospects, we stay in the backcourt and take a look at the off guard position. And as the case was with this year’s point guard crop, the shooting guard list is a little top heavy and light with regards to star power, but has some depth and should be a particularly interesting draft for this position in the second round as there could be a potential steal or two that a team could have in the 30’s and 40’s. There (likely) aren’t any Kobe Bryant’s or Klay Thompson’s in this draft, but there is plenty of talent and intrigue in this group and all on this list could and should crack an NBA roster at some point in the next few years.
1. Buddy Hield – Oklahoma
I can’t remember the last time that a senior was the #1 overall player at his position at the time of the draft. It just doesn’t happen anymore as players who are guaranteed lottery picks bolt for the league after one or two seasons. Hield is breaking that mold and tops this list as the player who improved his draft stock from one season to the next more than any other player in this class. And to do that as a senior in this day in age of one and done players is remarkable and he should be commended for sticking with the Sooners, perfecting his craft and taking that proverbial next step at the right time. To say that Buddy is a dominant scorer at the college level would be an understatement. He’s the best all around shooter in this draft and he has really improved on his game from inside the arc as well. The casual basketball fans will talk about his shooting ability and leave it at that, but he’s developed into a complete offensive player. He can shoot, slash and get to the free throw line. He was an above average college defender in the college ranks, which should translate to the next level. He’s never going to be a lock down defender, due to his lack of elite athleticism and foot speed, but he’s more than capable of matching up with two guards at the next level. There were questions surrounding his size but those were quickly put to rest at the combine as he measured a legit 6’5 in shoes, with a very solid 6’9 wingspan and 8’5 standing reach as well. That’s prototypical size for a two guard at the next level. I liken him to a more athletic JJ Redick with with more ability to create his own shot at this point in his career.
2. Jamal Murray – Kentucky
Murray is the clear cut #2 on this list and it isn’t even close. Once you move past the top two, there is a clear drop off in this particular group. Some have Murray #1 based on the fact that he’s this good at 19 years of age, three years the junior of Hield. Hield is your more prototypical two guard that is more prepared to come in and make an impact next season as opposed to Murray who is younger, will need some development and is a bit more versatile in that he can handle the ball and slide over to the point in a pinch. Murray was everything that John Calipari had hoped for when he reclassed to the 2015 class and chose Lexington as his college home. Murray averaged 20 points per in his lone collegiate season, something no other Calipari coached freshman has ever done. His 45/41/78 shooting line is worth noting and if it not for the player ahead of him on this list’s staggering offensive efficiency numbers then Murray’s line would be that much more eye popping and it might still even be since he was doing this as a freshman. Murray is still a big work in progress defensively and a notch below Hield at this point, but should improve with effort put into it. Murray played a lot of point in high school, something he didn’t have to do very often with Tyler Ulis at his side last season so whether or not he can develop into an off guard or whether he will always have that "combo" guard title remains to be seen.
3. Furkan Korkmaz – International
Korkmaz is well liked by many European scouts for his maturity and basketball acumen at a young age. He already has two years of experience playing at a high level in Europe. He’s comparable to a Rudy Fernandez without the attitude problems or a more explosive Evan Fournier. Considered a natural, his feel for the game is one of his real strengths. Korkmaz needs to add weight and struggled to gain playing time this year, so there are some question marks surrounding him. Reports have surfaced that he likely will return for another season in Europe, but scouts believe his upside is enough to draw looks in the lottery despite this. Turkey does not have a good reputation for developing and playing younger players, so how much this affects him remains to be seen. But there is no questioning the skilled and athletic Korkmaz as one of the top off-guard prospects available.
4. Malik Beasley – Florida State
Not many saw Beasley here a few months ago. Put me down as one of those people. I wasn’t overly impressed with Beasley in High School and thought he was a bit overrated but he burst on the scene at FSU and took the ACC by storm. I thought he needed another year in college to work on his handles and defensive ability, but he’s taking advantage of a somewhat weak draft class overall and he’s going to be a first round pick because of it. He’s not the shooter that the others on this list are but he’s got good form and hit close to 39% from distance during his freshman season. He’s the best athlete so far on this list and has an extremely quick first step. He’s more of your slashing two guard as opposed to a guy who is going to rely on his jump shot like the aforementioned Hield and Murray. He has an extremely quick first step and is explosive around the rim. Rumors have surfaced from NBA teams that Beasley has a rod in his leg, which could impact his draft stock. My biggest knock on him is his tendency to force things that aren’t there. He’s a bit turnover prone but that will improve over time as he works on developing his handles.
5. Malachi Richardson – Syracuse
I’m always wary of players who burst on the scene during the NCAA Tournament and their draft stock soars because of a few really solid performances. I was skeptical when it happened to Tyrus Thomas and I don’t like it now. That’s not to say that Richardson was some sort of slouch until a few games in March, just that he was more of an afterthought in draft conversations until the Orange made their run. He’s got great length for the position, something I can’t say about any other player on this list thus far, but I have questions about his ability to consistently hit jump shots. You saw flashes of what he can do against Virginia but even in that game he was extremely streaky which was something he dealt with all season. His 37/35/72 shooting line leaves a lot to be desired and most scouts would have loved to see him go back to school for at least another season. But in true draft fashion, he is striking while the iron is hot. He’s likely going to be taken in the mid-first round and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had some sort of promise from a team with multiple first rounders as he is going to need a year or two to really find his stride and make an impact at the next level.
6. Patrick McCaw – UNLV
McCaw appears to be one of the draft’s bigger sleepers as he’s not on a lot of team’s first rounds. He was a prospect that flew under the radar for many as it was a bit of a surprise that he elected to enter and keep his name in the draft. But reports from teams that have studied him and done background checks have produced glowing reviews. He’s a shy kid who just needs to mature and become more assertive and confident, which should happen in time. His shooting efficiency could have been better, but he was playing a team without a strong PG setting him up. He didn’t have a great shooting performance in his pro day working out in front of numerous teams, however he does show a pretty solid shooting form both off the dribble and catch and shoot. McCaw’s ability to attack the rim and his tremendous speed off the dribble and in the open floor is what gives him such great intrigue. He obviously needs to get stronger, and develop a better work ethic. But McCaw is a player that should find a spot in the late first or early second round, and has the physical tools and talent to surprise in a few seasons.
7. Caris LeVert – Michigan
It seems like only yesterday we were watching LeVert burst onto the scene during Michigan’s Final Four run back in 2013. He was a little known reserve at that point who played around 10 minutes per game at that time but he became "the man" for the Wolverines the subsequent season and he had a bright future ahead of him. Three short years later and LeVert has gone from potential lottery pick to a bubble first rounder. Injuries during his junior and senior seasons have derailed any chance of him getting back to that lottery pick status. After three surgeries to the same bone in his foot in 22 months, he’s only played in 33 games over the last two seasons which is sad because he shows so much promise on the court. At 6’7 he has great size and length for the off guard position but he’s still a skinny kid even as he has gotten older and filled out. He’s a good shooter with sneaky good athleticism, which is amazing, considering the injury woes. He keeps bouncing back and I see no reason why he won’t do the same now that he’s moving to the next level. He’s a versatile player that has great vision for the position and rebounds the ball well for his size. He may ultimately slip to the second round but a team could wind up being a huge steal if he can stay healthy moving forward.
8. Michael Gbinije – Syracuse
I find it so hard to project Syracuse guard/forward combo players due in large part because that 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs can mask defensive ability for players and because he has a knack for turning guys with a versatile skill sets into these hybrid players that really don’t have a position at the next level. And while Gbinije won’t be the next Michael Carter-Williams in the NBA, he won’t be the next Carmelo Anthony either. After transferring from Duke after his freshman season, ‘Silent G’ transformed his game and really became a reliable shooter and ball handler in the Syracuse offense. His usage rate and numbers sky rocketed during his final two seasons as he was relied upon so much more on the offensive end. He’s a good athlete that can really play either wing position and even some point forward if he chooses to. I love his vision and his ability to make clutch shots, but he doesn’t have a ton of upside and is a guy who does many things on the basketball court, just none of them exceptionally well. Call me crazy, but I love players like this as they are low risk type of guys with the ability to bring in a high return at this point in the draft. As with most of the guys on the bottom half of this list, he could end up being a steal if he falls to the right team (Warriors?) that can utilize him for what he is.
9. Malcolm Brogdon – Virginia
Hard to believe that the current ACC POY would be so far down on a list like this. Brogdon was part of a recruiting class that helped completely turn around the Virginia basketball program under Tony Bennett. In each year he was active for the Cavaliers, his team made the NCAA Tournament. And while the team underachieved in the NCAA’s during his final three years, Brogdon was the biggest reason for the team’s success. He’s a tough nosed player that is really every coach’s dream. He’s not the best athlete and he’s going to be 24 early during his rookie season which limits his upside and potential. But there is no doubt that he is one of the best all around basketball players in this draft class. He also is a very impressive person off the floor and a guy that a team will have 100% certainty as a strong character kid and leader. He doesn’t have great measurables and doesn’t do anything that is really going to jump out at scouts when watching him play, but he has a high basketball IQ, knows how to win and plays the game the right way. He still has work to do on the offensive end of the floor, but his defense gives him a lot of intrigue.
10. Gary Payton II – Oregon State
I did a piece on ‘The Thief’ earlier during his senior season and I will stand by what I thought back then, that he would be the steal of the draft if he were to fall to the second round. His ‘tweener’ status between the PG/SG positions really hurts him as it does with most prospects who don’t have a clear cut position at the next level but he’s a gifted athlete with special tools on the defensive side of the ball. I see him turning into the next Avery Bradley once he gets acclimated with the league. He’s older and he only spent two seasons playing against D1 competition but during those two seasons he became every bit the player anyone else is on this list outside of the top two. He’s an improving shooter which is something he will have to continue to work on before he sees consistent playing time at the next level and his free throw percentage (64%) is something that teams won’t love. I just really like his intangibles, athleticism and his high basketball IQ. He’s obviously got a great mentor in his Father and someone to help keep him on track once he gets to the next level.
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Andrew Andrews 6-2 205 SG Washington Sr., Ron Baker 6-4 215 SG Wichita State Sr., Isaia Cordinier 6-5 180 SG Denain 1996, Boris Dallo 6-5 180 PG/SG Antibes 1994, Tre Demps 6-3 195 PG/SG Northwestern Sr., Tomas Dimsa 6-6 190 SG Zalgiris Kaunas 1994, Kellen Dunham 6-6 205 SG Butler Sr., AJ English 6-3 180 PG/SG Iona Sr., Nick Faust 6-6 210 SG Long Beach State Sr., Diego Flaccadori 6-4 175 PG/SG Aquila Basket Trento 1996, Bryn Forbes 6-3 190 SG Michigan St. Sr., Marcus Georges-Hunt 6-5 220 SG/SF Georgia Tech Sr., Brannen Greene 6-7 215 SG/SF Kansas Jr., Marko Guduric 6-6 200 SG Crvena Zvezda 1995, Kevin Harley 6-6 190 SG Poitiers 1994, Marvelle Harris 6-4 225 SG Fresno St. Sr., Roosevelt Jones 6-4 245 SF Butler Sr., Mikhail Kulagin 6-3 200 PG/SG CSKA Moscow 1994, Damion Lee 6-6 210 SG Louisville Sr., Luc Loubaki 6-3 185 PG/SG Orleans Loiret 1997, Sheldon McClellan 6-6 200 SG Miami Sr., Blaz Mesicek] 6-5 170 SG Union Olimpija 1997, Dyshawn Pierre 6-7 225 SF Dayton Sr., Tim Quarterman 6-6 190 SG LSU Jr., Wayne Selden 6-5 230 SG Kansas Jr.