NBA Draft 2011: Ranking the Top 10 Shooting Guards
The NBA Draft tips off Thursday night, and most team's big boards are ready for action.
How many shooting guards are high on those boards? It's a fairly shallow crop, but there are a few prospects at the top that have All-Star potential.
A few draftees will be making the switch from college point guard to NBA shooting guard, which may cause general managers to think twice about selecting a Nolan Smith or E'Twaun Moore too early despite great college careers.
Let's take a look at the top 10 shooting guards in the 2011 class.
10. Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
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Pullen quietly had an incredible senior campaign for the Wildcats. He averaged 20.2 points, 3.7 assists and nearly two steals per game, while making 38 percent of his three-pointers.
His range and ability to attack the basket has undoubtedly caught the eye of scouts, but his lack of size will be of concern at the next level. Pullen stands just 6'0" tall, which is small for NBA point guards, let alone a shooting guard.
Still, Pullen is an experienced and accomplished player, and his offensive prowess will be hard to pass up in the mid-late second round.
9. DeAndre Liggins, Kentucky
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Not many players are drafted for defense first, but Liggins is that good.
DraftExpress scout Evan Daniel noted following Kentucky's Sweet 16 win over West Virginia that, "Liggins is the heart and soul of Kentucky's team. His defense and toughness is off the charts."
The ability to harass his man from start to finish helped the Wildcats reach their first Final Four since 1998. He scored just 8.6 points per game this season, but his offense was sacrificed on a loaded roster.
Liggins finishes well at the rim and made 39 percent from deep, often displaying more offensive skills than his numbers suggest.
8. David Lighty, Ohio State
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Lighty was one of the nation's most versatile and consistent guards for four years but never generated much attention.
Ohio State became a premier program over that span and Lighty was a big reason for that. He averaged 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and 1.5 steals in 2010-11, helping the Buckeyes become the No. 1 overall seed in the 2011 NCAA tournament.
He hit 46 percent of his shots and 43 percent from beyond the arc, numbers that show he can be serviceable in the NBA.
His commitment to defense could help his stock rise, as Lighty received votes for Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year this year, which eventually went to Purdue's JaJuan Johnson.
7. E'Twaun Moore, Purdue
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Moore is one of a few in the top 10 that will be making the switch from point guard to shooting guard.
He doesn't have great size (6'4") or quickness, but does possess a high basketball IQ and a feel for the game. Moore had a knack for knocking down clutch shots for the Boilermakers over the course of his decorated college career, and could do the same for a franchise in need of a spot shooter.
While shooting is his No. 1 asset, you can't average 18 points per game at the college level by simply roaming around the perimeter. With JaJuan Johnson drawing so much attention in the paint, Moore picked his spots well and was efficient when getting to the rim.
The 22-year-old also averaged five rebounds and three assists this season, proving he's more than a one-trick pony.
6. Nolan Smith, Duke
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No one in this class, at any position, had a better college career than Smith, as he had all the statistics and accolades to go along with the 2010 National Championship.
He averaged 20.6 points, five assists and four rebounds last year for the Blue Devils. How many Duke players with those numbers get lost in the draft shuffle the way it seems Smith has?
The skills and intangibles are there to launch a long and prosperous NBA career, but like Moore and Pullen, Smith is expected to make the switch to shooting guard, where he lacks the prototypical size (6'4") and measurements to be considered a lock for success.
5. Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
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Hopson has the game and the body that NBA scouts prefer in a shooting guard. He scored 17 points per game in his junior season for the Volunteers, and stands 6'7" with a 6'11" wingspan.
What has been hurting his stock is his interviews. According to DraftExpress, one NBA general manager was quoted as saying, "(Hopson) is not from the same planet as the rest of us," after sitting down with him. Ouch.
It appears he believes he's a much better player then he really is. It's good to be confident, but not if it borders on self-absorption.
Still, Hopson has the size and athleticism to make a difference at the next level. Don't expect his name to linger once the second round begins.
4. Travis Leslie, Georgia
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Leslie is the first player on this list that has earned a first-round grade from a majority of dependable draftniks.
He measures only 6'4" but possesses freakish athleticism. Leslie has a 6'11" wingspan, a standing reach of almost nine feet, and a 40.5-inch vertical.
Oh, and he's pretty good at basketball, too. The 21-year-old averaged 14.4 points, three assists, 1.2 steals, and was one of the nation's best rebounding guards, averaging 7.2 per game.
Some scouts are comparing him to Memphis' Tony Allen, who is one of the NBA's best players off the bench.
3. Alec Burks, Colorado
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Burks was a star for the Buffaloes in 2010-11, averaging 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and three assists while nearly leading Colorado to its first NCAA tournament since 2003.
He has drawn rave reviews from scouts at the draft combine and, at 19 years of age, possesses a much higher ceiling than most of the aforementioned shooting guards. Burks is a great mid-range shooter and has reportedly added range to his shot, which was needed after hitting just 29 percent of his threes last season.
In terms of athleticism, Burks doesn't stand up to Leslie or Hopson, but what he lacks there, he makes up for with his length and skill level.
2. Marshon Brooks, Providence
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After three years of sitting in the weeds, Brooks exploded on the scene during his senior year for the Friars.
He was the nation's second-leading scorer, averaging 24.6 points on 48 percent shooting. He also averaged seven rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks. Brooks scored in double-figures in all 32 games last season, including 43 against Georgetown and 52 against Notre Dame.
With that said, he has drawn comparisons as great as Kobe Bryant and as poor as Henry Domercant. Some scouts see him as a top-10 pick, while others say he'll fall to the latter stages of the first round.
His commitment to defense has been under fire, but Brooks, equipped with great quickness, agility and a 7'1" wingspan, has all the ingredients to become a great defender if he wants to be.
1. Klay Thompson, Washington State
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Thompson is the cream of shooting guard crop, and it's easy to see why.
He's one of the best shooters in the class, has great court vision, a high understanding of the game and is a solid ball-handler. Did I mention he's the son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson?
Without him, Washington State would've been one of the nation's worst teams, but with him, the Cougars were a fringe NCAA tournament team.
Thompson's scoring, rebounding, assist and steal averages increased over the course of his three-year run at Wazzu, signifying his ability to make necessary adjustments to improve his craft.
Almost all mock drafts have him going in the lottery, but don't be surprised if Thompson sneaks into the top-10.