Ranking the 10 NCAA Basketball Players with Most Complete Offensive Skill Sets
My generation grew up rooting for Jordan to go for 60 every night, and we weren't happy when Tony Kucok decided he should start shooting. It was just more fun to watch Jordan try to shake someone off the dribble or hit one of those patented fadeaway turnaround jumpers or drive baseline and dunk on Patrick Ewing. Watching Jordan with the ball was a clinic.
Few college players make it into the "pass him the ball so we can watch him score" list. The game is more about motion offenses and the coaches are the stars, but a few of these guys exist. Some don't even realize they have the skill set to be dominant scorers.
Here are 10 guys worth watching every time they touch the ball next season. Set your DVRs accordingly.
10. Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Let's a play a game. I'm going to describe some characteristics of a player, and you try to guess how many points per game that player averages.
This guy is a 6'10" power forward who shoots 38.1 percent from three, has the speed of a guard, strength of a power forward and jumps out of the gym. How much does he average?
I'm guessing most of you went A, B or D. No chance a guy with that kind of ability would average 10.5, right?
Meet Michigan State's Adreian Payne. For some reason, Payne shot the ball about as often as a role player this past season even though he might be one of the most talented guys in college basketball.
It was good to see Payne decide to come back to school because it would have felt like we had been cheated from seeing him do something great on the college level. Tom Izzo should spend the offseason telling Payne how gifted he is.
9. Davante Gardner, Marquette
Jim Boeheim had just about the perfect team for his zone defense this year. We saw that in the tournament.
Here's what Davante Gardner did to that zone on Feb 25.—26 points on 7-of-7 shooting, 12-of-13 at the free-throw line, two assists and four offensive rebounds. Gardner was also the only one on Marquette to do anything in the Elite Eight against Syracuse, scoring 14 of his team's 39 points.
No post player in the country is more valuable when going up against that zone. Gardner can sit at the high post and either knock down 17 footers or find open teammates. He also is a space eater on the boards, has great hands and finishes around the rim. And he's not too shabby against a man-to-man either.
Gardner averaged only 11.5 points per game this past year, but that's because he played only 21.5 minutes per game. He's a little on the heavy side, which is why he doesn't play a ton of minutes, but when he gets his touches, he's incredibly efficient.
8. C.J. Fair, Syracuse
DraftExpress.com has C.J. Fair as the 59th pick in its 2014 NBA mock draft and I'm a little confused why.
Finding a small forward in the NBA who can play defense on a LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony and then also score on the other end is not easy, something Zach Lowe at Grantland wrote about recently.
Fair fits the profile. He is one of those lefties who can get to his left every time even though everyone knows he's a lefty. He can shoot the mid-range jumper and after shooting 7-for-27 his first two years in school from beyond the three-point line, he made 30 of his 64 attempts (46.9 percent) this past season.
The one reason I can see as to why he wouldn't be a higher draft pick is his lack of range. I'm not sure he could hit the NBA three, but his improvement this past year from deep suggests there's the potential there. And now that he can hit the college three, he's close to the perfect college wing.
7. Isaiah Austin, Baylor
This feels wrong to say, but Isaiah Austin has so much ability that he reminds me a little, tiny bit of Dirk Nowitzki.
I'm not sure Austin will be any good once he gets to the league unless he gets stronger. He isn't like Kevin Durant, who is not as weak as he looks and has so much ability it doesn't matter that he's as skinny as a toothpick. But if Austin ever gets stronger, he could be a really special scorer.
Similar to Nowitzki, Austin has range to the NBA three-point line, can hit turnarounds from mid-range and he also has some nice moves from the block.
What was frustrating about watching Austin as a freshman was that it felt like he spent too much time trying to show everyone his perimeter game. He didn't spend enough time on the blocks.
Now that he has proven he can hit the three, it would be good to see him try to score more inside the arc next season. He has the potential to average 20-plus if he takes better shots and Baylor gets him the ball in the post more often.
6. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
Sam Dekker's numbers should go way up next season as he will become Wisconsin's go-to guy after coming off the bench on a senior-led team last season.
Dekker averaged 17.2 points per 40 minutes, which is even better than it looks because he plays for the slow-down Badgers.
At 6'7", Dekker is the perfect player for Bo Ryan's offense, which tries to pick out the mismatches and exploit them. Dekker shot 39.1 percent from three last year, and he's probably at his best when he's facing up and attacking. Put a smaller, quicker defender on him and Dekker can go to work in the post.
5. Jahii Carson, Arizona State
If you're looking for a point guard who can take his man one-on-one off the dribble, the best in the country is Arizona State's Jahii Carson.
Carson averaged 18.5 points per game as a freshman, and most of his buckets were created by himself. According to HoopMath.com, 88.5 percent of Carson's two-point field goals were unassisted. He also shot 51.4 percent inside the arc, an impressive number for a 5'10" point guard.
Carson can finish at the rim with either hand and also has the ability to score in the mid-range. He also gets to the line often, shooting a team-high 207 free throws last year. The only area of his game as a scorer that he needs to improve is his three-point stroke, where he shot 32 percent.
4. Jabari Parker, Duke
Jabari Parker is not the most athletic player in the 2013 class and he's not going to provide the best highlights, but his offensive game is the most developed of any of the incoming freshmen.
What sets Parker apart is his footwork and a jumper that he can hit from the mid-range or deep. Parker never seems to do anything too fast. Already, he looks like a pro when he's posting up or sizing up his defender off the dribble.
Parker will be able to play the 3 or 4 spot at Duke, and the expectation is that he'll be an elite scorer right away.
3. Russ Smith, Louisville
His shots aren't always logical and he probably adds to Rick Pitino's stress levels by the unnecessary jack, but when he gets going, Russ Smith is a lot of fun to watch.
Smith loves to score and no one finds more ways to get up a shot than Smith. Usually, his quickness is what allows him to do so whenever he wants. What often goes unappreciated about Smith's game is that he also is pretty good at setting up his teammates by getting his feet in the paint—he averaged 2.9 assists per game last year from the two spot.
What's frustrating about Smith is that he would be better served to use his ability to create for others more often, but that's just not as fun as seeing your own shot go through the hoop.
2. Tyler Haws, Brigham Young
They grow them crafty with beautiful jumpers at BYU.
Tyler Haws doesn't shoot as often as Jimmer Fredette (yet), but he can fill it up just like Fredette.
As a sophomore, Haws averaged 21.7 points per game, which was actually better than Fredette's sophomore season when he averaged 16.2 points per game.
Haws does most of his work in the mid-range. Anyone who says the mid-range jumper is a lost art should watch this man operate. Haws made 45 percent of his two-point jumpers last season and attempted 61 percent of his shots from that range, according to HoopMath.com.
Like Fredette, Haws is also great at getting to the free-throw line. He attempted 211 freebies and shot 87.7 percent at the line.
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton
Defenses are designed every night to stop Doug McDermott. He deals with double-teams and triple-teams and multiple defenders taking their turn to try to slow him.
Yet McDermott still finds a way to get buckets. He averaged 23.2 points per game last season, and the average does not begin to quantify how impressive his junior season was.
McDermott attempted 34.8 percent of Creighton's shots when he was on the floor, according to KenPom.com. Usually a volume shooter like that does not put up the best shooting percentages. McDermott shot 57.3 percent from two, 49 percent from three and 87.5 percent at the free-throw line.
He has great footwork, he has great feel, he has great hands, he has great range and he has great touch. Basically, all you can do with McDermott is try to keep him from touching the ball and hope he passes when he does get it.