2011 NBA Draft: Kyrie Irving and 10 Best Passers in Draft
Duke point guard Kyrie Irving sits at the top of most draft boards and will likely be the number one pick in this month's NBA Draft.
He's considered the best player, and point guard, in the Draft.
Perhaps the most important aspect of playing the point guard position is the ability to be a floor leader, generating the best possible shots for your teammates.
The best and most creative passers are the ones who are able to do that, so what follows is a list of this year's 10 best passers; the guys who will likely see the most success at the point guard position in the NBA.
10. Iman Shumpert: Georgia Tech
Shumpert's assists per game actually went down in each of his three years at Georgia Tech as he had to progressively shoulder more of the scoring load, but the pure passing talent was evident.
Currently projected as a late first or second round pick, Shumpert is a versatile player who does a lot of things well. His intensity on defense will land him a spot in the league, but his ability to find players for open shots will keep him in it.
9. Charles Jenkins: Hofstra
Jenkins is mostly known for his explosive scoring ability, but he also averaged 4.8 assists per game to just 2.2 turnovers in his senior season, good for a career high 2.16 assist to turnover ratio.
Playing in relative obscurity as Hofstra University, it took Jenkins a while to get noticed, but now he's quickly rising up draft boards.
Photo courtesy of Hofstra
8. Reggie Jackson: Boston College
Jackson is another player whose stock has been rising of late. His scoring abilities from the point guard spot are a big asset, but if he wants to succeed in the NBA he'll have to be more of a distributor.
His assist numbers stayed steady at 4.5 per game in his sophomore and junior seasons at BC while he raised his scoring average from 12.9 to 18.2 points per contest. Even while shouldering more of the scoring load, he did not lose sight of his responsibilities as point guard.
Jackson has great court vision and that will help him at the next level.
7. Malcolm Lee: UCLA
Lee, like a few other UCLA guards who have come out of school in the last few years, didn't exactly light the world on fire in Los Angeles.
However, like Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday, Lee does have the skills to succeed at the next level.
He's a first round bubble pick right now, but if he can learn the ropes of the point guard position by being an apprentice under a seasoned veteran on a team that takes him late in the first round.
6. Josh Selby: Kansas
I firmly believe that Selby will be a better player in the pros than he was in college. He was the highest ranked point guard in his class coming into his freshman season at Kansas, but an NCAA-mandated suspension and a stress reaction in his foot slowed him this year.
He's not really a pure point guard, more of a combo, but he flashed the ability to make the right decisions throughout his high school tenure, and even some in limited minutes in college.
5. Jimmer Fredette: Brigham Young
The Jimmer's scoring is obviously his best skill, as evidenced by his 28.9 points per game scoring average.
Because of his mid-major school, explosive scoring and underrated court vision, he's been compared to Golden State Warriors standout Stephen Curry. Curry is a better passer than Fredette is, but Jimmer's passing is extremely overlooked.
He can play the point guard or shooting guard position in the pros, and will be able to score out of either spot. Most of the questions surrounding his potential pro prospects are related to his defense, but if he proves himself a capable distributor, he will have a place in the league for a long time.
4. Darius Morris: Michigan
Morris is as pure as it gets at the point guard position, even if he could have used another year of seasoning to move up further in the draft.
He averaged 6.7 assists in his sophomore season at Michigan, and was probably the best point guard in the Big Ten. Nearly every scouting report on Morris raves about his court vision and floor leadership, so he could very well be a steal late in the first or early in the second round.
3. Kemba Walker: UCONN
Kemba elevated himself to a potential top-five selection by having a huge run in both the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
He was more scorer than passer in his junior season at Connecticut, but NBA execs seem convinced he can be a point guard at the next level.
Even though he's a score-first player, his leadership ability and basketball instincts will allow him to succeed there.
2. Brandon Knight: Kentucky
If Kyrie Irving is the most sure thing in this year's draft, I believe Knight is a close second.
In the NCAA Tournament, he demonstrated his ability to make big shots, by making game winners in the first two rounds.
He had a horrible shooting performance in Kentucky's national semifinal loss to UConn, but along the way in the tournament he proved he's a good leader and distributor.
He's a projected top-three selection, and his skills justify that lofty status.
1. Kyrie Irving
Irving played in just 11 games in his first and only season at Duke, but when he was on the floor he was possibly the best player in the country.
His pure point guard instincts are among the best in the last few years, comparable to John Wall and Derrick Rose. He's not as good of an athlete as those two players, but he might be a better passer.
He also averaged 17.5 points per game and that is why he is the presumptive number one pick in this month's draft.
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