Top 5 Point Guards Prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft
In this years NBA draft, the point guard prospects offer plenty of first round talent. It’s pretty unique that each of the top point guards all have different styles of play and they all bring different strengths to the table. Teams in need of a point guard have plenty of great options early in the draft, as well as late in the first round. Here are my top five point guards:
5. Shabazz Napier – UConn
Weight – 175
Age – 22
Shabazz Napier, the star point guard of the Cinderella story National Champions, as well as the recipient of the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament award. Sounds like someone you want on your team, right? Shabazz is an extremely crafty scorer who is simply a winner, who plays with tons of energy and heart. His height as well as defensive struggles turn teams off a bit, but Mr. Napier can flat out score. He scores in a variety ways: off the dribble, catch and shoots, off screens, isos, and he can do it from just about anywhere on the court. Shabazz is a very smart player who always looks down court to for the open man when pushing the ball to get those easy baskets before the defense gets set. Napier can get to the rim and knows when to kick it out to the open shooter when necessary. Shabazz is such a good shooter that in pick in roll situations, many times both defenders close on him, leaving the roll man open for an easy lay-up. Shabazz can come in and contribute to any team right away, he is NBA ready now.
4. Tyler Ennis – Syracuse
Height – 6′ 2.5″
Weight – 182
Age – 19
Tyler Ennis is a pure, traditional point guard that can really orchestrate an offense. Ennis is a very unselfish player who always looks to get his teammates involved early in the game. For being only 19 years old, Ennis is matured beyond his years and you can see that on the court because he is extremely poised while running the point and he hardly ever turns the ball over. He has the passing skills that teams want and he rarely ever misses the open man. Ennis is also a decent shooter, he shot 35% from 3 this past year. Ennis likes to drive and get to the basket, but often struggles doing so against athletic guards; this makes him pull up early for bad angled shots or floaters. He really does not have a quick first step and in games he doesn’t seem to get too high off the ground when jumping. Even though I am not as high on Ennis as others are, overall, Tyler Ennis is a very quality prospect who can become something great. At worst he will be a backup point guard in this league for years, like Steve Blake or the “new” D.J. Augustin. I can see Ennis being selected in late lottery to mid first round.
3. Elfrid Payton – Louisiana Lafayette
Height – 6’4
Weight – 185
Age – 20
Right now you might be asking yourself “Who is this guy and why is he ranked above the NCAA Tournament MVP and Tyler Ennis??” Trust me on this one, I can explain. Let me start off by saying he is a big, lock down defender at 6’4 with a very impressive and even scary 6’8 wingspan. He has longer arms than Rookie of The Year MCW! Back to basketball, Payton was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of The Year this past season, the award speaks for itself, he’s a great defender. Payton excels in transition with or without the ball, mainly because of his excellent speed, quick first step, and his length. He can finish over taller defenders as well as draw fouls at the rim. Payton is also a very unselfish player and great passer, he averaged 6.7 assists per 40 last season. Payton is also one of the best rebounding guards in this draft.
The biggest weakness is his shooting ability, his college shooting numbers might make you cringe. 25% from three, 25% on all jumpers, and 59% from the line. Payton is working very hard to correct his shot though. He has changed his release slightly and he now has more arc on his shots; his shot looked much, much better in his draft workouts. If Payton played for a major program, we would be talking about how he is a definite lottery pick. I think he gets picked anywhere from 12-20 on June 26th.
2. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State
Height – 6’3
Weight – 227
Age – 20
Marcus Smart could have possibly been a top 3 pick last year, but he decided to stay in school for one more year to try and improve his skills. Smart is a big, strong, and powerful point guard who has an NBA ready body. Smart plays with tons of heart and you can really see that he is out there playing to win and he absolutely hates losing. Smart gets to the rim and is able to finish with contact because of his great strength. He is great at using his body to box out and grab rebounds as well. When Smart gets the ball in his hands he likes to go; he pushes the ball whenever possible and tries to drive before the defense gets set. He can post up guards and is a great passer out of the post, and just a good passer in general as well. Smart is also a very good defender and he is phenomenal with help and team defense.
Marcus Smart needs to improve on his shooting as well as his shooting mechanics. He does this strange thing where lowers the ball to his knees before beginning his shooting motion, and he needs to correct this. He also lands with his feet pointing sideways after shooting. Smart’s shot selection is also a bit questionable and he honestly shot too much at times during the season. In college, Smart relied on his strength to bully opposing guards, so he will need to add a few moves to his arsenal to help himself get by defenders in the NBA. Of course we all know about the incident with the Texas Tech fan, it will definitely be in the back of teams minds when considering him, but I do not think it really hurt his stock. Smart could be selected anywhere from 4-10 on draft night.
1. Dante Exum – Australia
Height – 6’6
Weight – 196
Age – 18
Dante Exum is still sort a mystery at this point, even though fans are starting to learn more and more about him. He is from Australia and does not always go up against the greatest competition, although he has played in the FIBA championships and the Nike Hoop Summit as well. Exum is a combo guard, in my opinion I think he is best suited to play the point because I think he can absolutely dominate opposing guards, offensively and defensively. With his size and 6’9 wingspan he can see over defenses and find the open man. He excels at driving and kicking simply because of his great length. Exum averaged 5.1 assists per 40 at the FIBA U-19′s, and he was playing with some pretty low skilled teammates. He has a very high basketball IQ for only being 18 years old.
Where Exum excels is scoring, he gets to the basket whenever he wants and can finish over much taller defenders. Exum has an extremely quick first step, if he sees an opening to the hoop he just explodes to the basket immediately. He averaged just under 25 PPG at the FIBA’s and scored 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting at the hoop summit as well. He is also great defensively; he has the length, size, and quickness to shut down almost any point guard. There are so many good things that he does, that it is impossible to list them all. If you haven’t already watched him play, check out his highlights.
Exum’s weaknesses are his shooting consistency and his lack of strength. Exum is a very capable shooter but he isn’t as consistent as teams would like, although he is improving greatly. I have watched a ton of film on Exum and he used to have a very flat shot, but now it has a nice arc and it is honestly much more consistent. He simply needs to get stronger, at only 18 years old this is not a red flag and can easily be corrected by hard work in the weight room.
On draft night Exum could go anywhere from 2-6 in the draft, although if he is left at 4 I can see the Magic selecting him.
Let me know your thoughts, as well as your own top 5 point guards.
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