2014 NBA Draft: Ranking The Top 5 Shooting Guard Prospects
Unless you’re living under a rock, by now you’ve heard about the 2014 NBA Draft and how it’s projected to be one of the best in history since 2004 (A.K.A the one that featured stars like Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, etc.).
But with all the hype surrounding elite small forward prospects like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, many of the top shooting guard prospects have been nothing more than an afterthought to general NBA fans… That is… UNTIL NOW!
Here’s our take on which two guards are the best of the best, heading into the draft.
P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
Hairston raised his stock dramatically during his short tenure in the D-League, averaging 21.8 points on 45 percent shooting and proving why he was one of the most hyped shooting guard prospects in the nation only four years ago.
One skill that stands out from the get-go is his the ability to drain shots from nearly any spot on the floor (as evident by his 36% shooting clip from downtown), something that’s bound to translate to the next level regardless if he’s a starter or rotational player.
But what’s even more important is how he’s owned up to his past mistakes with the University of North Carolina, addressing his character issues and making it known he’s 100% focused on basketball:
“I deserve all the blame,” Hairston said. “It was totally my fault. I regret everything that happened. They were mistakes I made in life that aren’t going to happen again, because I won’t put myself in that situation. I apologize for what happened… I hope people will accept that apology.” via Bleacher Report.
James Young, Kentucky
Although Young sometimes gets a little too trigger friendly from deep, he still did a great job impressing scouts with his uncanny shooting ability, knocking down 2.1 threes a game on nearly 35 percent shooting.
His 7’0″ wingspan screams defensive potential, allowing him to cover 1’s 2 ‘s and 3’s with ease, plus create nightmares for any opposing players in the backcourt, averaging almost a steal per game.
What’s also impressive about Young is he’s an exceptionally fluid athlete, attacking the rim with reckless abandon and rising up over taller defenders when given the opportunity.
Zach LaVine, UCLA
UCLA’s Zach LaVine was one of the biggest winners of the NBA Draft Combine, showing off his ridiculous athleticism by posting a 41.5″ max vertical leap, which ranked second out of all players participating in the event.
Complimenting his elite athleticism is his unbelievably sweet shooting stroke, converting on 37.5 percent of his shots from three point range and 49.4 percent of his two point field goal attempts, despite playing a meager 24.4 minutes per game.
The biggest knock against LaVine right now has to be his lack of experience, only showing short spurts of his true potential since he was often buried on the bench during his collegiate days.
Garry Harris, Michigan State
While many top prospects vouched to pass up on the NBA Draft Combine (Wiggins, Parker, Embiid and more), Harris chose to take a chance and participate in the event, a decision he surely regrets now.
The Michigan State standout shocked scouts with his underwhelming measurements, coming in at 6’2.5″ in socks and holding 6’6.75″ wingpan- disappointing numbers for a guard that thrives playing off the ball.
There’s no doubt Harris is an elite prospect, possessing great defensive instincts and the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor. You just have to wonder if his lack of size may limit his long term potential.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Leading the pack is Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas, who easily became one of the top shooting guard prospects in the nation following the departure of star floor general Trey Burke last summer.
The 6’6 sharpshooter averaged a team-high 17.5 points on a extraordinarily efficient 54 percent shooting from the floor- an awfully remarkable number for a guy that was asked to carry the offense for much of the season.
What’s more impressive is his improved ball handling skills, which have allowed him to evolve into a slasher, often cutting through lanes and working his way inside for easy finishes when he finds openings.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops