NBA Draft 100 Series: Ranking the Top Point Guards of the 2015 Class
The pool of point guards NBA teams will be looking at for the 2015 NBA draft is a lot stronger than most would have predicted. We've seen a number of breakout performers, three of which make up our top four.
D'Angelo Russell came out of nowhere early on to establish himself as a can't-miss prospect. Murray State's Cameron Payne is another guard who's found the first-round radar, while Notre Dame's Jerian Grant bounced back after missing the last 20 games of his junior season.
Unfortunately, point guard is arguably the most competitive position in the NBA. Many point guard prospects will likely have to spend time in the D-League or overseas before receiving the opportunity to make a roster or rotation.
The NBA Draft 100 metric measures each prospect based on a number of factors that account for everything from athleticism to room for growth. Each position has different criteria related to the traditional responsibilities tied to it. We measured point guards in five separate categories:
- Size for Position/Athleticism
Though some prospects played multiple positions, we assigned each prospect to the position we project them to play most at the next level.
On the next slide, we address how we chose which categories to evaluate for each position, as well as how we came up with each individual score.
Note: Brazil's George de Paula would have been top-20, but he didn't play enough games to qualify.
We used five categories to evaluate the point guards. Each category is also assigned a different weight based on significance.
We created a formula to reflect each prospect's performance in a particularly category. For passing/facilitating, scoring and shooting, the weights are listed below in percentage points.
Size for Position/Athleticism (10 points)
Size and athleticism can certainly give point guards a major advantage. However, we've seen plenty of ball-handlers succeed who are merely average athletes with average size.
Size and athleticism will account for 10 points, five for each.
Being tall allows point guards to see and make plays over the defense. A 6'4"-or-taller ball-handler should have an excellent advantage, whereas a 6'0" ball-handler could struggle getting shots off.
Size for Position (5)
5 = 6'4"+
4 = 6'3"
3 = 6'2"
2 = 6'1"
1 = 6'0"
Athleticism isn't as big for point guards as it might be for wings or bigs, but it certainly helps. Explosive point guards should ultimately have a much easier time separating and finishing, while below-average athletes could struggle scoring at the rim or blowing by defenders.
5 = Elite
4 = Above average
3 = Average
2 = Below average
1 = Poor
Every point guard's primarily responsibility is to run an offense and create high-quality shots. Of the three main skills—passing, scoring and shooting—passing holds the most weight. Given how often they have the ball, efficiency is key. We used assist percentage to get a feel for how often the point guard creates for teammates. We used turnover percentage to make sure prospects were penalized for making poor decisions.
Since most prospects in college turn the ball over at relatively similar rates (two to three times per game), turnover percentage only accounts for 20 percent of the passing/facilitating scorer.
80 percent: assist percentage
20 percent: turnover percentage
The majority of top NBA point guards these days are major scoring threats. The ability to generate offense has become a must for any starter. It's not as important as passing, but point guards who aren't scoring threats typically fall into backup roles.
Points per 40 minutes is a strong indicator of how good of a scorer a player is. But he also must show he's not just picking up points as a volume three-point shooter, which many college scorers are. Scorers must be able to make shots inside the arc, and do so efficiently.
60 percent: points per 40 minutes
20 percent: two-point field-goal percentage
20 percentage: two-pointers made per 40 minutes
There aren't many successful point guards who can't shoot. Given the rim protection in today's NBA, guards must be able to make shots away from the basket to both maximize the threat they pose to defenses and to improve team spacing.
Shooting percentage reflects shooting consistency, which is most important. But some college players' percentages are high because of small sample sizes. A player must show he can make threes regularly as well, which is why we included three-pointers made per game. This is for players like Utah's Delon Wright, who shot an average 35.6 percent from three but only made 26 of them all year.
60 percent: three-point percentage
40 percent: three-pointers made per game
The upside score projects a player's ceiling or best-case possible outlook. The projections were set based on Jonathan Wasserman's scouting and collective opinions from scouts and other draft analysts.
10 = MVP potential
9 = Superstar
8 = Perennial All-Star
7 = All-Star potential
6 = High-End Starter
5 = Low-End Starter
4 = High-End Reserve
3 = Low-End Reserve
2 = High-End bench warmer
1 = Low-End bench warmer
Please note that slight adjustments were made for international and mid-major prospects.
If two players received the same total score, we used "Upside" as the tiebreaker. If there was still a tie, we chose the player higher on Jonathan Wasserman's big board.
20. Kenneth Smith, Louisiana Tech, 6'3", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 6/10
At 6'3", 180 pounds, Kenneth "Speedy" Smith has a solid frame and size for a point guard. His physical profile comes into play mostly on defense, where his long arms, quick hands and feet translated to 258 steals in 140 career games. However, despite the nickname, Speedy isn't the quickest off the bounce, nor is he explosive. In 1,190 minutes as a senior, he made just 22 shots at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com.
Smith's 7.1 pure point rating, which measures his assists (7.4 per game) to turnovers (2.5 per game) relative to each other, ranked No. 2 in the country, per RealGM.com. He's a natural facilitator and true pass-first ball-handler. Smith's bread and butter is ultimately his ability to run an offense and set the table for teammates.
Though an excellent passer, Smith offers little as a scorer, having averaged just 7.8 points per 40 minutes. He only shot 37.9 percent from the floor, and outside the floater, he has little ability to create his own shot. Point guards who can't score have not fared well in the pros lately. Kendall Marshall would likely be his best NBA comparison offensively.
He's become a decent shooter, having made 35 of 96 threes (36.5 percent) and raised his free-throw mark as a senior to 77.0 percent from 65.5 percent.
Smith offers minimal upside without the ability to score. Best-case scenario: He finds a roster spot because of his feistiness as a third ball-handler.
He's getting workouts, but Smith just doesn't look the part for a player at the game's most competitive position. He'll go undrafted and hope to make a name for himself in the D-League or overseas.
19. Shannon Scott, Ohio State, 6'1", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 6/10
Standing 6'1", 185 pounds, Shannon Scott has average size to go with good—not great—athleticism. His best attribute in this department is his lateral quickness. He's a solid on-ball defender who can stay in front of ball-handlers.
Despite sharing a backcourt with D'Angelo Russell, Scott averaged 5.9 assists, showing a good feel out of pick-and-rolls and a generally strong comfort level facilitating in the half court. Scott also has sharp vision in transition, where he picked up 39.2 percent of his dimes, per Hoop-Math. On the downside, he turned the ball over too much (21.2 percent turnover percentage).
His 11.2 points per 40 minutes was sadly a career high. After four years, Scott hasn't developed much as a scorer or shooter.
He did look capable of pulling up off the dribble but shot just 41.2 percent from the floor and 28.4 percent from downtown. Scott's lack of range really hurt his outlook.
Because he can rise above the rim, manage an offense and defend opposing point guards, he'll get some looks, even if he goes undrafted this June. But no shooting range or scoring ability will make it tough for him to stick.
Scott didn't receive an invite to the combine and remains unlikely to get drafted this year. He'll have a chance to generate buzz in the D-League if he doesn't receive any appealing offers overseas.
18. Nikola Radicevic, Serbia, 6'5", 1994
Size for Position/Athleticism 6/10
At 6'5", Nikola Radicevic has strong size for the position, but a lack of athleticism and explosiveness are red flags. He could have a tough time turning the corner, finishing and defending.
The most appealing aspect of Radicevic's game is his ability to create shots for teammates off ball screens. His numbers weren't overwhelming—Radicevic put up a 27.5 percent assist percentage. But he's clearly a crafty playmaker off the dribble.
Radicevic only averaged 13.6 points per 40 minutes. He picks up most of his buckets off sneaky drives and floaters, but finishing in traffic looks like a real weakness.
He only shot 31.2 percent from three and made 1.3 triples per 40 minutes. He also shot just 64.6 percent from the line. To have a realistic shot at finding the NBA, Radicevic will need to improve his jumper.
His size and facilitating ability are both intriguing, but limited burst will make it tough on him. Backup point guard looks like his best-case outlook as a pro.
He received valuable exposure playing in a lineup with Kristaps Porzingis and Guillermo Hernangomez in Spain. Most international scouts should be fully aware of Radicevic, who'll be a second-round draft-and-stash option.
17. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, 6'2", Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 4/10
Kevin Pangos' underwhelming physical tools and limited athleticism will be tough for him to overcome. He actually has decent size at 6'2" but isn't particularly strong, while a severe lack of quickness and explosiveness could make it tough to beat defenders off the dribble at the next level, wherever that may be.
Pangos' 23.4 percent assist percentage was below-average compared to other point guards. He did register an impressive 5.4 pure point rating, per RealGM.com, after averaging 5.7 assists to just 1.6 turnovers per 40 minutes. He's a smart passer—just not a dynamic playmaker.
Pangos' scoring average per 40 minutes has gradually declined since his freshman year. He's more of a shooter than a scorer, having made just 1.4 two-point field goals and averaged 11.6 points per game.
Pangos' ability to shoot is what might ultimately give him a chance. He nailed 2.5 threes per 40 minutes at a lights-out 43.1 percent clip. It marked the fourth consecutive year Pangos has finished at least 40 percent from deep.
He could have a tough time earning an NBA roster spot, given the questions surrounding his ability to hold up physically at each end of the floor. Still, he has adequate size, a convincing jumper and sharp passing skills. Pangos might be able to earn some attention in the D-League, the way former teammate David Stockton did before signing with the Sacramento Kings.
He's likable for his underdog athletic limitations, competitiveness and consistency. But Pangos doesn't offer upside or an immediate solution. Don't count on his getting drafted. He'll spend next year in the D-League or Europe.
16. Quinn Cook, Duke, 6'2", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism3/10
Quinn Cook has average 6'2" size for a point guard, but he isn't particularly quick, athletic or explosive.
Alongside freshman Tyus Jones, Cook played off the ball in a spot that didn't ask him to create much. Forced to share a backcourt, Cook finished with 50 fewer assists this year compared to last—despite playing 354 more minutes. He can pass it around, but Cook isn't your typical breakdown, drive-and-kick, pick-and-roll point guard.
Cook averaged an impressive 15.3 points per game on 53.6 percent inside the arc. He thrives in transition and is always a threat from outside or with the floater in between. However, Cook may have a much tougher time finishing at the next level.
He knocked down 2.9 threes per 40 minutes, showing excellent shot-making ability and shooting range.
Without blow-by burst or the size to play shooting guard, Cook, 22 years old, doesn't offer any upside. Maybe his shooting stroke and handle will allow him to compete for a roster spot, but poor physical tools, below-average athleticism and questionable playmaking ability cloud his outlook.
He'll have a shot at going in the second round to a team that values his experience, jumper and open-floor instincts. But Cook should find himself in the D-League or Europe next season.
15. T.J. McConnell, Arizona, 6'1", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 3/10
T.J. McConnell doesn't have great size, athleticism or explosiveness, which in his case, limits his offensive ceiling. But McConnell shows good strength and a willingness to play through contact. He also moves well laterally, something that shows up on defense.
McConnell's 6.8 pure point rating ranked No. 4 in the country, per RealGM.com, after he averaged 8.2 assists to just 2.7 turnovers per 40 minutes. McConnell is an excellent decision-maker, and though he's not the most threatening playmaker, he always seems to make the right pass and find the open man.
McConnell is a facilitator—not a scorer. He averaged just 13.6 points per 40 minutes. On the bright side, he made 55.7 percent of his two-pointers this year, showing the ability to finish and make shots on the move despite lacking above-the-rim burst.
His three-point percentage declined in three consecutive years (shot just 32.1 percent from three as a senior). Shooting is a weakness that could ultimately keep him from cracking a rotation.
As a non-scoring, below-average athlete at 6'1", McConnell's upside is obviously limited. However, with great toughness, intangibles and passing instincts, he'll have a chance to compete for a backup gig if he proves he can make enough open jumpers.
It might ultimately be better for McConnell if he actually goes undrafted, which would allow him to pick from summer league offers he's likely to receive. He won't start off in the NBA but will certainly have the chance to get there eventually.
14. Chasson Randle, Stanford, 6'2", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism3/10
Chasson Randle has adequate size for a point guard—just not blow-by speed, athleticism or explosiveness. He shot a poor 52.2 percent at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com.
He isn't much of a distributor, given his 3.3 assists per 40 minutes and 18.8 assists percentage, per Sports-Reference.com. Stanford relied on Randle to score, and though that will be his role at whatever level he ends up playing at, his size will likely force him to play the point.
If Randle gets drafted, it will be due to his scoring and shot-making ability. He averaged 21.5 points per 40 minutes. Randle is dangerous around the perimeter, and though he doesn't get very high off the floor, he's shown the ability to hit off-balance looks. Still, he shot just 40.3 percent on 16 shots per 40 minutes. Inefficiency has really clouded his production.
He knocked down 2.7 threes per 40 minutes at a 36.3 percent clip. In four years, Randle nailed 304 threes. Shooting is his most promising offensive skill.
Maybe Randle can pull a Langston Galloway, but it's a long shot. His best-case scenario is as a shot-maker off the end of a bench. He'll need the right team and fit for it to happen.
Randle's production is likely to be overlooked in the draft, given his physical limitations. He looks poised for the D-League or Europe.
13. Juwan Staten, West Virginia, 6'1", Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 5/10
Though West Virginia lists Juwan Staten at 6'1", he measured under 6'0" this past summer at the LeBron James Nike Skills Academy, per DraftExpress. However, Staten makes up for that inch or two with explosive athleticism and blurry quickness.
Staten's numbers as a distributor took a hit this year, though his 31.8 assist percentage is still good for a player who's leaned on heavily to score. Staten has shown he can run an offense, set the table and take care of the ball (12.6 percent turnover percentage).
Staten scored 18.2 points per 40 minutes, having done the most damage as an attacker and pull-up shooter (40.5 percent on two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math). He blends speed and shiftiness with hops and body control.
The big question with Staten is his shooting range. He made just 21 threes in 30 games his senior year, which was actually an improvement from the six he hit in 33 games as a junior.
He'll be entering next season at 23 years old, so the questions regarding his jumper and three-ball are a little more serious. His size will also be a significant obstacle to overcome. However, Staten's athletic ability is the real deal. He's going to be tough to stay in front of at any level. We're still talking about end-of-the-bench potential, but Staten does possess some intriguing NBA qualities. Becoming a bigger threat from behind the arc will be a must.
Staten wasn't at the combine but has been working out for teams. He'll need to impress in these workouts to get one to bite in the second round.
12. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", PG, Sophomore
Size for Position/Athleticism 7/10
Andrew Harrison offers a mixed bag in the physical-tools-and-athleticism department. At 6'6", he has mismatch size for a ball-handler, as well as an NBA body. However, he lacks athleticism, quickness off the dribble and explosiveness around the basket. Harrison shot a poor 53 percent at the rim this season, thanks to an inability to elevate high above it. Separating against NBA defenders, both on the perimeter and inside, may be a challenge for him moving forward.
Harrison improved as a decision-maker in 2014-15, having lowered his turnover percentage to 15.7 percent from 20.3 percent. His 5.6 assists per 40 minutes were nothing to write home about. Harrison has good vision on the move within the offense but is not a dynamic playmaker one-on-one.
That lack of athleticism shows up in the scoring department for Harrison, who struggles to create high-percentage shots for himself. He averaged 14.6 points per 40 minutes but shot an ugly 37.8 percent from the floor—the second straight year he failed to crack 40 percent.
Harrison was more accurate as a shooter in 2014-15. He made 38.3 percent of his threes and a promising 79.2 percent of his free throws. His mechanics are also promising. There is no reason Harrison can't become an above-average shooter by the time he peaks.
Harrison doesn't have nearly as much upside as many once thought he did out of high school. Still, with excellent size for the position as well as a high skill level, his lack of athleticism may not completely destroy his outlook. If he can become consistent on the perimeter and continue improving his decision-making, he'll have a chance at landing a backup gig in the pros.
Harrison looked sharp at the combine and won a ton of big games in two years at Kentucky. He's not the lottery pick most thought he was out of high school, but as a 6'6" point guard with a high skill level and terrific track record, he'll still go somewhere in the 25-50 range.
11. Terry Rozier, Louisville, 6'2", PG, Sophomore
Size for Position/Athleticism7/10
Terry Rozier's skill set and strengths suggest he's a shooting guard, but unless he's the next Eric Bledsoe, his 6'2" size will make it tough for him off the ball. For a point guard, he's an excellent athlete with great quickness off the bounce and explosiveness around the basket.
Despite playing a big role in Louisville's offense, Rozier didn't show much as a playmaker, nor did he have many opportunities to do so. Having shared a backcourt with Chris Jones for most of the year, Rozier played a lot of 2-guard. Still, Rozier's 19.7 percent assist percentage and 3-2 assist-to-turnover ratio are pretty scary numbers. He finished the year with a negative pure point rating of minus-0.55, per RealGM.com.
Rozier, who averaged 19.5 points per 40 minutes, was Louisville's go-to and leading scorer. He showed he can knock down pull-ups and floaters. And Rozier was tough to stop in transition, where he made 63 field goals within the first 10 seconds of a possession, via Hoop-Math.com. However, Rozier took 14.5 shots per game and shot 41.1 percent from the floor. He struggles with shot selection and shooting consistency—bad signs for a point guard who also lacks facilitating and passing instincts.
Rozier made 48 threes, but his 30.6 percent three-point mark wasn't very convincing.
Rozier's ceiling reaches a new level if he can convert into a full-time point guard. Otherwise, he's an undersized scorer, which can work in a combo guard role off the bench, but usually nothing more. However, if Rozier proves that his weak assist percentage was a result of his role in Louisville's offense, he's athletic and tough enough to play regular minutes.
A team who believes it can morph Rozier into a facilitator could take the chance on him late in the first round. But most teams would likely feel a lot safer grabbing him in the second.
10. Ryan Boatright, Connecticut, 6'0", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 5/10
At 6'0", 175 pounds, Ryan Boatright doesn't possess the explosiveness to fully make up for his lack of size. He shot just 52.3 percent at the rim in the half court, per Hoop-Math.com. However, he's quick and shifty off the dribble, which allows him to break down defenses and create his own shots.
Boatright is more of a shoot-first point guard. His 0.43 pure point rating, 25.3 assist percentage and 3.8-2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio are each fairly underwhelming. To his credit, Boatright's role has been to score, but after four years at Connecticut, his facilitating instincts have never made a strong impression.
With Shabazz Napier off to the pros, Boatright stepped in to average 19.5 points per 40 minutes as Connecticut's lead guard. He was more efficient on the perimeter than he was within the teeth of the defense. Boatright struggles to finish inside and connect in the mid-range, having made just 30.4 percent of his two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.com.
Boatright has tremendous confidence as a shooter. He made 41.1 percent of his threes and 2.8 triples per 40 minutes.
Boatright doesn't offer any upside, given his unconvincing physical tools and track record as a facilitator. However, between his ball-handling skills and shooting stroke, he could have a chance to emerge deep off a bench as a scoring spark.
Boatright stood out at the combine, and given his production and experience at Connecticut, it wouldn't be crazy if a team picked him in the second round. Either way, he'll likely start his career in the D-League or overseas.
9. Keifer Sykes, Green Bay, 6'0", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 5/10
Keifer Sykes always had size working against him. But at 6'0", he's likely one of the top athletes and leapers among the eligible point guards. Sykes is quick, elusive and bouncy around the rim. If only he were a few inches taller, he'd likely have generated a little more NBA buzz.
Sykes is a scorer in a point guard's body. He averaged just 4.5 assists per 40 minutes despite being used in 28.4 percent of Green Bay's possessions, per Sports-Reference.com. But he does a good job taking care of the ball. Despite carrying such a heavy offensive load, he only turned the ball over 2.5 times per 40 minutes.
A microwave scorer, Sykes put up 18.6 points per game or 21.2 points per 40 minutes. He's at his best attacking and weaving through traffic. Sykes gets to the line at a good rate (6.3 times per 40 minutes), and he's comfortable with the floater and pulling up off the dribble (40.1 percent on two-point jumpers, per Hoop-Math.com), where he gets excellent elevation and separation.
Unfortunately, he shot just 31.1 percent from three—the second year in a row he's finished below 32 percent. At his size, he'll need that three-ball to start working if he wants a crack at the NBA.
Sykes certainly packs the athleticism and burst to play at the NBA level. The question is whether he can make enough shots outside and hold his own running an offense. If he does, Sykes' spark-plug potential could land him a roster spot. I'd imagine he'll put up a lot of points in the D-League in 2015-16, if that's where his career path takes him.
Sykes might have hurt himself at the combine after struggling in five-on-fives. He could go undrafted, though it shouldn't completely kill his chances of ever playing in the NBA. He'll start off his career in the D-League or overseas.
8. Travis Trice, Michigan State, 6'0", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 2/10
At 6'0" without much burst or above-the-rim springs, Travis Trice doesn't score well in physical tools and athleticism. He plays a nice, balanced game but ultimately lacks the blow-by speed and explosiveness of most NBA point guards.
Trice registered a strong 31.2 assist percentage as one of a few guards in Michigan State's starting lineup. His 10.8 turnover percentage and 4.9 pure point rating were also solid numbers. Trice doesn't wow you with playmaking ability, but his passing skills are sharp.
Trice has improved dramatically as a scorer over the past three years, having gone from 10.3 points per 40 minutes as a sophomore to 13.1 points as a junior and 18.3 points per 40 minutes as a senior. He really struggles at the rim, where he shot a dreadful 42.9 percent in the half court, per Hoop-Math. A 39.7 percent field-goal clip reflects Trice's inability to create good looks for himself.
He nailed a career-high 2.8 triples per 40 minutes at a respectable 36.9 percent clip. His jumper will be huge for him moving forward, even if it's in the D-League or overseas.
There isn't any upside tied to Trice, given his athletic limitations and age (22 years old). However, he can handle the ball, pass and shoot. If he can hold his own defensively, he has some low-end potential as a ball-mover and shot-maker.
Trice's lack of size and athleticism has kept him out of the NBA draft conversation. He's worked out for teams, though his odds of getting picked are slim. Look for him to start his career in Europe or the D-League.
7. Tyus Jones, Duke, 6'2", PG, Freshman
Size for Position/Athleticism5/10
Though Tyus Jones is one of the most skilled point guards in our top 20, his lack of athleticism and standout quickness is really working against him. His first step off the bounce isn't explosive. And neither is his last one up toward the rim, where he shot just 55.6 percent, per Hoop-Math.com. Jones also struggled regularly defending the perimeter, particularly fighting through screens and containing dribble penetration.
His numbers would have likely been better had he not shared a backcourt with senior Quinn Cook. Jones' 27.5 percent assist percentage didn't stack up very well with the other top point guards. However, he's an excellent passer and decision-maker out of pick-and-rolls and has flashed terrific vision in the open floor. His 5.1 pure point rating also ranked No. 16 in the country, per RealGM.com. If we were using the eye test to assess Jones' passing and facilitating, he'd have scored higher. But his numbers just weren't very impressive.
As a scorer, Jones' best attribute from an NBA standpoint is the pull-up jumper, which he made 43 percent of the time, per DraftExpress' Jonathan Givony. Unfortunately, his 13.9 points per 40 minutes was low compared to most point guards. Jones didn't finish well at the rim, shot just 44 percent on twos and was erratic from outside.
Jones hit 47 threes in 39 games at a 37.9 percent clip. Though he's inconsistent, his outlook as a shooter appears promising. Jones' mechanics' and shot-making ability are both encouraging.
Jones' skill level is exceptionally high, but his athletic limitations will make it difficult for him to defend and separate as a scorer. However, Jones' high basketball IQ and feel for the game are too strong to ignore. He's a sharp enough ball-handler and passer to back up an NBA starter. To become a starter himself, Jones must continue improving his jumper, as it's a shot he'll have to rely on heavily without above-the-rim burst.
Jones' numbers weren't reflective of his impact and promise. He's going to get looks in the mid-first-to-late-first round, even if his upside isn't that enticing. Expect the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers to take a look.
6. Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 8/10
At 6'5", Delon Wright has the size to operate over the defense. He's also quick and instinctive moving laterally, which shows up on defense. However, Wright is an average athlete, from his explosiveness to his length and strength.
Wright managed Utah's offense efficiently. He shows great poise and the patience to wait for plays to develop. Wright does most of his damage off ball screens, where he can slow the game down with the hesitation dribble and pick apart defenses. Wright registered a solid 33 percent assist percentage while turning it over just 2.3 times per 40 minutes. On the downside, he isn't a breakdown guard who's going to create easy shots for teammates off blow-by drive-and-kicks. Wright picks up his dimes within his team's offense.
Wright averaged 17.5 points per 40 minutes on 50.9 percent shooting. He takes quality shots which mostly come within 15 feet. Wright has a strong runner-and-floater game but is not an adept scorer off two feet.
Wright only hit 26 threes in 35 games his senior year, which was actually an improvement from his junior season, when he made just 12 triples. He also shows little ability to stop and pop off two feet, a shot NBA point guards traditionally lean on. Instead, Wright opts for floaters or runners—tougher shots to hit over rim protection.
At 23 years old, Wright only seems to be have so much room to improve. Plus, he isn't the greatest athlete, and his shooting stroke remains a question. His best NBA attribute could be his defense against a ball-handler. Chances are Wright can step into a game and contribute as a rookie, but it's tough to envision him developing into anything more than a high-end backup.
Wright should get looks in the mid-to-late first round. Chicago, Cleveland, Memphis and San Antonio all seem like sensible destinations. If Wright slips to the second round, he won't last long.
5. Olivier Hanlan, Boston College, 6'4", PG, Junior
Size for Position/Athleticism 6/10
At 6'4", Olivier Hanlan is a bit undersized for a 2-guard, but at the point, where he's improved, he can pose some problems. Though not an explosive athlete, he's quick enough to get to his spots on the floor and strong enough to take contact.
Hanlan was Boston College's go-to scorer as well as its primary playmaker. As a junior, he raised his assist percentage to 29.1 percent from 20.1 percent as a sophomore. With the ability to handle the ball, change direction and lose defenders, he can draw help and find open finishers and shooters on the move. Hanlan is still more of a scorer than a distributor, but he's threatening enough off the dribble to bring the ball up and initiate the offense.
A scoring machine in the ACC, Hanlan averaged over 20 points (20.8) per for 40 minutes for the second consecutive year. He's a tough cover attacking the basket and over ball screens, where he can drive, pull up or step back into a makeable jumper.
Hanlan nailed 2.2 threes per 40 minutes at a 35.3 percent clip. He's threatening from outside, though his mechanics are suspect. He might need to make some adjustments to improve his range and consistency.
He isn't a pure facilitator, while a lack of explosiveness may limit his effectiveness offensively. But Hanlan is skilled enough with the ball to make a case for himself as a potential playmaking reserve.
Hanlan struggled at the combine and hasn't generated much buzz since. He should still be considered a second-round option in the 45-60 range. Plenty of teams could use guards who can score and create, even if it's in a 10-minute-per-game role.
4. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame, 6'5", Senior
Size for Position/Athleticism 9/10
Jerian Grant has excellent 6'5" size and good quickness. He can climb the ladder and get up above the rim, though calling him explosive would be a stretch. Grant ultimately has the size and skill set to play off the ball at the 2, but he's a bigger mismatch at the point, a position he's become qualified to play full time.
Grant's facilitation stood out more than anything this past year. He averaged 6.7 assists to just 2.2 turnovers in 37.1 minutes per game, which translated to the No. 8 pure point rating (6.2) in the country, per RealGM.com. Grant was a playmaking machine off ball screens, where he flashed terrific vision and passing instincts on the move.
His scoring attack is behind his passing game, but Grant can still put up points. He averaged 17.8 of them per 40 minutes, showing the ability to make shots from all three levels within the defense. Grant's 59.2 percent true shooting percentage, per Sports-Reference.com, is very strong for a guard. He finished at the rim at a 73.1 percent clip, per Hoop-Math.com, and flashed the ability to separate one-on-one into mid-range jumpers (40.3 percent on two-point jumpers).
Grant wasn't as accurate from downtown (31.6 percent) but did make 50 threes in 38 games. At this point, he's capable from outside, but don't consider Grant a shooter just yet.
Grant will be 23 years old by the start of next season, so it's fair to question how much he'll improve from here. Without any major holes in his game, it's certainly possible his strengths continue to strengthen. Even if they don't, his size, ball-handling and passing skills should lead to a backup gig at the very least. But having the versatility to play either backcourt position improves his odds of finding a full-time role. Grant has starting NBA potential if he can land on a team with an opening in the backcourt.
Grant could go anywhere from the late lottery to the late-first round. He's one of the rookies you'd expect can help a team right away. Look out for the Thunder and Houston Rockets, contenders that may be looking for additional ball-handlers for 2015-16.
3. Emmanuel Mudiay, China, 6'5", 1996
Size for Position/Athleticism 10/10
Emmanuel Mudiay aces the NBA eye test with a terrific 6'5", 200-pound frame, a 6'8" wingspan and above-the-rim athleticism. He packs great burst, lightning quickness, strength and mismatch size.
Mudiay is a true point guard who can set the table and create shots for teammates off the dribble. He's at his best out of pick-and-rolls, where he can hit the roll man or pop, while his speed and vision in the open floor leads to easy buckets. In 12 games overseas, Mudiay registered a 31.8 percent assist percentage (7.5 assists per 40 minutes). However, decision-making has been a well-documented weakness since his days in high school. And it's still the case today, as he turned the ball over 3.3 times in 31.5 minutes a game overseas.
Mudiay is at his best attacking the rim off ball screens and transition opportunities. He can make shots in a variety of different ways around the basket and key. He's also a capable mid-range shooter and scorer in the runner-and-floater game. There isn't much defense played in China, but Mudiay's 22.8 points per 40 minutes were still impressive.
His jumper remains a major question mark. He hit just 13-of-38 threes and only 27-of-47 free throws. Last spring, Mudiay shot a combined 1-of-11 from downtown in the McDonald's All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit. He'll need to work on his mechanics to eventually take that next step as a shooter.
Mudiay has plenty of upside because of his physical tools and athleticism. His ceiling reaches All-Star heights, though his ability to hit it will come down to just how much he can improve as a decision-maker and shooter. Jrue Holiday, Michael Carter-Williams and Tyreke Evans are comparable names that come to mind.
Mudiay will get looks from every team drafting in the top six. His upside is just too big. Mudiay would seemingly fit best with the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, given the lack of talent he'd have to play off in Philadelphia and the triangle offense in New York. If he slides, it won't be past the Kings.
2. Cameron Payne, Murray State, 6'2", Sophomore
Size for Position/Athleticism 6/10
Cameron Payne has average 6'2", 180-pound size. He's quick off the bounce and getting out in the open floor, though he won't blow anyone away with explosiveness. Overall, Payne looks the part of an NBA point guard, but it's his skill level that drives his potential—not his physical tools or athleticism.
Payne proved himself to be a terrific orchestrator at the point, where he can create shots for teammates off dribble penetration, ball screens and secondary-break opportunities. He's excellent in pick-and-rolls, showing a great feel for freezing the defense with hesitation and threading the needle as a passer. Payne registered an elite 40 percent assist percentage (No. 6 in the country), which translated to 7.4 assists per 40 minutes. His vision in the open floor is also strong. Payne often likes to push the tempo and find his teammates before the defense can set (45 percent of his assists come within the first 10 seconds of a possession, per Hoop-Math.com).
Nobody had an answer for Payne in the scoring department. He put up 25.1 points per 40 minutes (20.2 points per game) and ranked first in the country in points produced per game, per Sports-Reference.com (a stat that also accounts for assists). Payne proved to be incredibly dangerous making shots off the dribble, from pull-ups to floaters and runners. He made a whopping 99 two-point jumpers at a red-hot 45.6 percent clip, per Hoop-Math.com.
Payne has a good-looking stroke that connected on 37.7 percent of his threes. It's not an overwhelming number, but he did nail 2.4 triples per game. With deep range and pull-up shot-making ability, Payne's jumper could be a big weapon for him as a pro.
Payne isn't a freak athlete, but point guards don't have to be (Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Steve Nash). His skill level could eventually carry him to a starting gig or All-Star game. The fact that he continues to improve makes you wonder just how good he'll actually become.
His stock hasn't stopped rising since February. There is a good chance Payne hears his named called in the lottery, with the Indiana Pacers, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder all real possibilities.
1. D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State, 6'5", Freshman
Size for Position/Athleticism 8/10
Though he's likely to spend time playing both on and off the ball, D'Angelo Russell's 6'5" size should work quite well at the point. His 6'9.5" wingspan is also a big plus. Russell is a good athlete—not an explosive one. He's quick and shifty moving east and west, and when given room to build momentum, he can get up above the rim attacking north and south.
Russell is a fantastic passer with exceptional vision, timing and accuracy. He managed to register a 30.1 percent assist percentage (5.9 assists per 40 minutes) as Ohio State's go-to option while sharing a backcourt with Shannon Scott. If he wasn't relied on so heavily to score, you get the impression he could have dished out a lot more dimes. Facilitating wasn't exactly Russell's primary job, but with a high basketball IQ and terrific feel for the game, he still has promising game-management ability.
Arguably the most skilled freshman guard in the country, Russell can create and make shots from every spot on the floor. Having averaged 22.7 points per 40 minutes, Russell showed everything from step-backs and pull-ups to post-ups, nifty drives and floaters.
With the size to play both backcourt positions as well as spectacular passing instincts and an advanced, polished scoring arsenal, Russell has the potential to develop into one of the game's most dynamic offensive weapons. He looks like a mix between Goran Dragic and James Harden. If Russell hits his ceiling, we could be talking about a routine All-Star and franchise lead guard.
He'll get consideration at No. 1 or No. 2 overall, but assuming the Minnesota Timberwolves and L.A. Lakers go big, look for Russell to go No. 3 to Philadelphia or No. 4 to New York. He'd be ideal for the Sixers and Knicks.