It comes as no surprise that the teams with the worst records (and therefore the highest draft picks) in the NBA often look towards the PG position to help improve their team through the draft. These teams usually suffer from poor leadership, team cohesiveness, ability to control tempo and the unselfish play that goes hand in hand with losing and stat-padding. The point guard position is very often called the most important in basketball, and for good reason. What is alarming is the fact that the majority of the teams with the worst records in the NBA this year are once again teams that are clearly lacking a confident playmaker that is capable of making teammates better. Atlanta, New York, Toronto, Boston, Orlando, Houston, Washington, Sacramento, Seattle and the Lakers are ten teams that all look like early candidates for the lottery this upcoming draft, and all (except the Knicks who traded their pick away) will at least be considering drafting a point guard to help fix one of their major weaknesses.
The only problem is, very few point guards have stepped up to the plate to establish themselves so far as clear lottery prospects. So with the NCAA season entering the in-conference portion of their schedules, we take a look at how ten point guard prospects have fared so far, while examining what they will be expected to show in the next three months to up their stock.
Randy Foye, 6-4, senior, Villanova
20.7 points, 6.1 rebs, 3.9 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 1.3 steals, 48% FG, 41% 3P, 1.7 ass/to ratio
Being the best player on possibly the best team in the country, getting attention from NBA scouts is not going to be difficult. Foye has been the catalyst behind his teams undefeated record and excellent victories over previously ranked top-10 teams such as Oklahoma and Louisville.
Playing the point guard position a lot more than weve been accustomed to seeing him doing in the past, Foye has racked up the best numbers of any player on this list almost across the board. And although he is still a combo guard-type, his assist to turnover ratio is 2nd best on this list.
Despite being from Newark, New Jersey, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Foye epitomizes your typical New York City point guard. He is tough as nails, fearless going to the rim, a good ball-hander, excellent defender and superb finisher in the toughest of situations. You would think that playing a 4-guard offense would hurt Villanovas rebounding numbers, but they still crash the boards at an above-average rate. Foye is a big reason why with a solid 6+ rebounds per game.
In terms of his point guard skills, he has shown vast improvement this year but still has room to grow. He is excellent at creating his own shot and finding teammates off the dribble, but can struggle at times with his decision making in half-court sets. He projects as more of a sparkplug type to bring off the bench and put up points with the second unit, as hes a bit of a streaky shooter and scorer who can erupt for huge offensive outbursts and then disappear for stretches. His first step is not off the charts, but he changes gears wonderfully and overpowers defenders on his way to the basket thanks to his strength and heart.
Foye will be under the microscope from here on out in every game he plays in the Big East conference. Leading his team to the final four combined with the weak all-around point guard class could see him land in the lottery when its all said and done.
Daniel Gibson, 6-2, sophomore, Texas:
13 points, 3.5 rebs, 3.4 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 1.5 stls, 41% FG, 35% 3P, 1.19 ast/to ratio
Widely considered to be one of the top point guard prospects in the NCAA by most college basketball analysts in the preseason, Gibson might be the biggest disappointment in the country early on. Despite playing for an extremely talented Texas squad that received many first place votes in the various national polls, his team has struggled badly in their out of conference schedule and was embarrassed two weeks in a row on national television. It started with a poor outing in the Guardians Classic, low-lighted with a 1 assist, 9 turnover effort against West Virginia that saw his team narrowly escape with a victory thanks to extremely poor free throw shooting by the Mountaineers down the stretch. Then came another anemic performance in an embarrassing blowout against Duke that made many question his leadership and decision making skills under pressure. Texas then proceeded to be blown out on their home floor by an inferior Tennessee team that took note of Gibsons inability to handle full-court pressure or defend the perimeter and exploited this weakness perfectly. Gibson left the game mid-way through the first half with a concussion and his team down by 19 points, and did not return to the lineup. His team recently went on the road and defeated Memphis, but by that point Gibson had already replaced as his teams starting point guard and had instead been moved off the ball to a role similar to the one J.J. Redick plays for Duke. Gibson was not trusted to help his team break the full-court press, and when he did have the ball in his hands did little to quell the concerns about his ability to run a half-court offense or make teammates better.
It might be too early in the year to write him off, though, as hes an extremely talented scorer who can knock down shots and get into the lane with the best of them, something that NBA scouts clearly value. Still, there is little doubt that Gibsons stock has taken a major hit as his numbers have tailed off from a year ago, the turnovers pile up, and his team loses in embarrassing fashion. The thing that might be most concerning about the way hes played is that when he does try to make a conceited effort to look like a point guard and get his extremely talented frontcourt involved, he clearly just does not have the ability to do so effectively at this time. Gibson has to cut down on the careless turnovers, show more poise running his teams offense, and do a much better job defending the perimeter. These three things have unsurprisingly been his teams biggest problems early on in the season.
The NBA game appears to suit his strengths as a player a bit better as there is more of an emphasis on scoring along with very little zone defense or full-court press being played, but the concerns about his inability to run an effective half-court offense, defend the perimeter and get his teammates involved will undoubtedly plague him going into June until he starts to show scouts otherwise.
Rajon Rondo, 6-2, sophomore, Kentucky
15.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.9 turnovers, 2.0 steals, 53% FG, 32% 3P, 1.8 ass/to ratio
Its been an up and down season both for the Wildcats and their extremely long and athletic point guard. Three surprising losses to Iowa, North Carolina and Indiana exploited major flaws in the make-up of Kentuckys roster, but an emphatic win over arch-rivals Louisville and Rick Pitino showed that Tubby Smiths gang can still be a force to be reckoned with when they are playing his trademark defense and knocking down shots. Theyve since struggled to beat clearly inferior mid-major foes in Iona, Central Florida and Ohio, and appear to be biding their time until Randolph Morris returns to the team next week.
Kentuckys extremely talented point guard Rajon Rondo has had both his strengths and weaknesses on full display throughout this run. When at his best, Rondo is electric in the open floor, taking the ball strong to the basket and finishing with a tremendous first step, finding open teammates from both static positions and off the dribble, playing fantastic defense and controlling the tempo of the game. When at his worst, he can be too tentative attacking defenses, deferring too much to his extremely unpolished teammates, and looking like hes heaving a bowling ball at the rim when trying to knock down open looks from the perimeter. He does not appear comfortable in his role as Kentuckys go-to guy, and despite being the only player on Kentuckys roster who can effectively create his own shot, he hesitates to do so.
Its tough to be too tough on a player this young with so much weight on his shoulders, as hes clearly a pass-first PG who needs talented players around him to succeed. His effort on the glass (padded by an incredible 19 rebound game against Iowa) tell us a lot about the type of player Rondo is; tough, ridiculously athletic, freakishly long with incredibly big hands, smart and willing to do whatever is asked of him to help his team wins. That and the presence of one of the best coaches in America in Tubby Smith make Kentucky a team to be reckoned with come tournament time and Rondo possibly the top point guard prospect in the draft this year. Considering Rondos awful shooting mechanics, diminutive size and lack of leadership skills, though that might tell you more about the weakness of this point guard class than anything.
Jordan Farmar, 6-2, sophomore, UCLA
13.8 points, 3.3 rebs, 5.8 assists, 3.8 turnovers, 1.2 stls, 43% FG, 31% 3P, 1.6 ass/to ratio
Farmar was probably the best pure point guard in college basketball in the out of conference portion of the NCAA season, and therefore is definitely deserving of a mention on this list. Hes led his team to an outstanding 12-2 record so far and has been the engine that makes his teams dynamic half-court offense go. Farmar has consistently shown the type of court vision and passing ability in the last two years that draw comparisons to #3 pick in last years draft, Utah Jazz PG Deron Williams. He isnt anywhere near as good of a defender at this point in his career, but is just as natural of a floor general and is an even better scorer. Its not rare to see Farmar create an easy basket for a teammate out of absolutely nothing late in a possession. This has become a double edged sword for UCLA, though, as his teammates seem to expect him to do this every time down the floor and the offense in turn becomes stagnant.
His assist numbers can be misleading at times as hes been asked to play off the ball a lot more than last year, due to the emergence of extremely talented freshman PG Darren Collison. Coach Howland likes him a lot (for good reason) and tries to get him on the floor as much as possible. Farmar has been doing what hes asked and contributing to his team however possible, whether its scoring, setting up his teammates or providing outstanding leadership on the floor. Where as last year he dominated the ball exclusively and showed inconsistent scoring ability, he has added some new wrinkles to his offensive game that make him a much more dangerous all-around player. He still uses a wide array of head and body fakes to compliment his outstanding ball-handling skills and extra gear getting into the lane, but is now showing a wider arsenal finishing around the basket, including floaters, short pull-up jumpers and a soft touch using the glass. His outside shot has been hit or miss after getting off to a very slow start, shooting well over 50% on the month from behind the arc until he got injured late in December, but tailing off recently once his ankle problems hampered him again. Farmars biggest weakness remains his defensive ability. Its not rare to see opposing guards blow right by him, as this is the part of his game where his lack of incredible athletic ability really comes to play.
Despite being an established college player already who is well known in basketball circles, Farmar only turned 19 a few weeks ago and clearly has a bright future ahead of him. If he continues to play the way he has so far this year and takes his team deep into the tournament, he could have a tough decision ahead of him this May. The fact that UCLA has a young, but incredibly deep and talented team that could be in position to make a national championship run next year might make him want to stick around for another season. At the same time, Farmar could look at this years weak crop of point guards and see a good opportunity for himself to land himself a guaranteed contract in June.
Its been difficult to assess Farmars play in the Pac-10 as he is suffering from a nagging ankle sprain that just isnt being given the proper time to heal. He is barely practicing and is forcing himself onto the court to help his team when they desperately need him (like late in a huge road win against Arizona just the other day) despite the fact that he definitely should not be out there.
Darius Washington, 6-2, sophomore, Memphis
13 points, 3 rebs, 4.3 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 0.9 steals, 46% FG, 36% 3P, 1.5 ass/to ratio
If Raymond Felton, Deron Williams and last years draft taught us anything, its that winning games catches the eyes of NBA scouts. Therefore you need to look no further than the heart of Memphis surge into the top 5 of the national polls to understand that Washington has to chance to help himself tremendously if he continues to play the way he has so far and continues to win big games.
Although Memphis style of offense and the number of terrific ball-handlers who are capable of making plays on their roster isnt the most stat-friendly situation assist-wise for him to be in, anyone who has actually bothered to watch them play will tell you that Washington has John Caliparis half-court offense purring like a well-oiled machine. The strides he has made as a playmaker in terms of his understanding of the game and unselfishness leave a lot of room for optimism regarding his future at the position. This is in stark contrast to the reputation he had as a prep, which is still following him today to some extent.
A nagging deep thigh bruise he suffered over six weeks ago is clearly still bothering him and limited him to spot-play besides Memphis biggest games. Washingtons biggest advantage on the court is his lethal combination of strength and quickness, but the thigh injury has noticeably taken away much of that. This is probably the only thing holding Washington back from getting the recognition he deserves for his teams success in the national media. When healthy, Washington will establish himself as a strong a candidate as any for being the top point guard prospect in this upcoming draft.
His defense and outside shooting still leave something to be desired at times, but most of his flaws look highly correctable considering his youth.
Sergio Rodriguez, 6-3, 1986 International, Estudiantes (Spain)
Rodriguez was flying high just a few months ago, coming off an outstanding rookie season in the ACB, starting a number of games for a Euroleague team, winning the revelation award (top youth player in Spain), being invited to the Spanish National team for the Eurobasket tournament and being touted as one of the best point guards to come out of Europe in quite some time. Projected as a potential top 10 draft pick before the summer, the Spanish Magician has been taking some serious lumps ever since, to the point that he might be better off staying in Europe for another season to continue to polish his game. It started in the Under-20 European Championships this summer in Moscow, playing with many players two years older than him granted, but still amongst the type of competition that he should have dominated. Rodriguez averaged 6 turnovers per game compared with only 4 assists, scoring 12 points a game but only shooting 27% from behind the arc. No one would have minded had he helped his team advance deep into the tournament once again (he won the gold medal and took MVP honors the summer before in the U-18s), but Spain disappointed by only finishing 9th in the tournament. Its continued through the early part of the season as well, where Rodriguez has not shot the ball particularly well, has been turnover prone, and worst of all seen his team struggle badly in both the ULEB Cup (with a 2-4 record) and the ACB League (5-7).
His play has picked up a bit lately, though, so its possible that Rodriguez is coming out of his early season funk. Hes seeing starting type minutes again and is making the most of them, but will still need to show a lot more consistency to get his draft stock to where it was at just six months ago.
Dee Brown- 6-0, senior, Illinois
15.5 points, 3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.9 turnovers, 1.6 steals, 38.8% FG, 36.3% 3P, 1.86 ass/to ratio
After an unfortunate injury at the Chicago pre-draft camp forced him to pull out of the draft, Dee Brown had a mighty task ahead of himself trying to prove that he can run a team effectively and still score points and defend in the absence of Deron Williams and Luther Head. So far, the results have been mixed, as Brown is clearly still making the transition to playing the point full time. His ability to control to make teammates better, run half-court sets and find the open man all looked questionable early on in the season, as he still displays poor shot-selection at times and doesnt take advantage enough of his outstanding speed in breaking people off the dribble. To make things worse, his 3-point percentages have tumbled from over 43% last year to 36% this season (even after a recent 7-13 outside shooting outburst against the Spartans), a clear testament to the struggles hes going through combining good shot selection with playmaking ability. His field goal percentage has dropped by over 11 points as well, from 49.9% last year to 38.8% this season. Brown has looked infinitely better as of late, especially after a career high 34 point game against Michigan State, so it will be interesting to see how the returning Big 10 player of the year plays the rest of the season. After a fairly weak out of conference schedule that gave him some nice opportunities to pad his assist numbers, it will be his play in-conference and in the NCAA tournament that probably makes or break his stock. He is still one of the quickest players in the country with the ball in his hands, not to mention one of the most flamboyant and experienced, and plays outstanding pressure defense.
Terrell Everett- 6-4, senior, Oklahoma
10.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 3.7 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 37% FG, 27% 3P, 1.68 ass/to ratio
Featuring terrific size, length and athleticism as a 6-4 true point guard, Everett has done a nice job racking up assists and running Oklahomas offense on paper, but has not stepped up to plate regarding the other parts of his game that needed to show improvement. Everett for the most part failed his biggest test this year being taken out of his element by Villanovas terrific guards on the road, and was also very unimpressive in a disappointing loss at home to West Virginia. His team has not been tested much except for those two games, so its hard to draw too many conclusions until we see how he looks against decent competition in the Big 12. His FG% and 3Pt% are both down considerably, which is not a good sign for a player that needs to show that he can knock down his shots.
As the most important player on Oklahomas squad considering his role on the floor, Everett must step up in the second half of the season the way he did last year. His team has looked pretty bad in many key stretches, and Everett had a lot to do with that, especially with his decision making. So far he has not stepped up to the plate as OUs senior leader, appearing to lose confidence in himself and especially his jump-shot.
Mardy Collins, 6-6, senior, Temple
15 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 2.3 steals, 39% FG, 24% 3P, 1.5 ass/to ratio
An extremely intriguing prospect because of his pure point guard skills, defensive ability and height, Collins has appeared to have taken a major step backwards as a player in his senior year so far. Last year Collins was flying well under the radar and was given plenty of space to create shots for himself and his teammates, but this year teams have figured out that shutting him down is the best way to shut down Temples entire team, and that strategy has indeed been effective. Collins scoring is down 2.5 points a game from last year, and his rebounding and assists have both fallen off significantly. He is shooting just 39% from the field and 24% from beyond the arc, and his team is disappointing at 6-5 with a couple of very bad losses under their belt. Collins still has time to bring his stock back to where it once was, but he needs to make a move right now, starting with taking his team to the NCAA tournament.
Curtis Stinson, 6-3, junior, Iowa State
18.8 points, 5.3 rebs, 5.1 assists, 3.2 turnovers, 2.5 steals, 46% FG, 34% 3P, 1.57 ass/to ratio
Another player in the midst of an up and down year, Stinson has been electric at times scoring the ball and getting his teammates involved, and downright awful in others. When Stinson is at his best, Iowa State is a team with Sweet 16 potential or better. But when hes not, he takes his entire team down with him.
Stinson is another typical New York City point guard; tough, athletic, stubborn, flashy and capable of putting a ton of points on the board in very little time. He has a great first step, a chiseled upper body, and is excellent at hitting tough shots with a man in his face. Stinson loves to dominate the ball and take his team on his back, but often tries to do too much and ends up hurting them in the process. His outside shot is still a work in progress, up over 8% from 25.6% last year, but nowhere near good enough to justify the volume of tough shots he settles for at times, especially since many of them are contested ones. His defense makes up for that to a certain extent, as he loves to challenge his man and get in the passing lanes to ignite fast breaks. He looks like a decent candidate to be a sparkplug backup to bring off the bench, but still has plenty of things he will need to work on first. Putting it all together for a few weeks in March could do wonders for his draft stock.
With the Big 12 not living up to its early expectations (frontrunners Texas and Oklahoma, among others, have been disappointing), the Cyclones have a chance to make some serious noise in-conference this year if they are up for the task.