After a solid, but unspectacular two years at Missouri, Marcus Denmon
had a breakout junior campaign, emerging as one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball
. Denmon led the Tigers to an NCAA Tournament berth while averaging 16.9 points per game on the season.
At 6'3, Denmon is undersized for the shooting guard position and has just an average frame. He is a good athlete, but his lack of size will certainly be an issue at the next level.
Denmon's efficiency stems from his high skill-level and excellent shot selection. Over two thirds of his shots last season came on jumpers according to Synergy Sports Technology, the majority of which came with his feet set. Denmon converted a blistering 47.5% of his those, ranking him amongst the best spot-up shooters in college basketball. He gets excellent elevation on his jumper and has NBA range, showing fluid, consistent shooting mechanics. This is a skill that should translate immediately to the professional level.
More than just a one-dimensional shooter, Denmon also converted a spectacular 54.4% from inside of the arc, ranking as an elite finisher among NCAA shooting guard prospects last year.
He is at his best both running the floor and finishing in transition, using his quickness and aggressiveness to get to the basket. He lacks great size even at this level, and is not a terribly explosive leaper, but has excellent body control, the ability to finish with either hand, and excellent toughness around the basket.
Denmon tends to struggle elsewhere, however, lacking the elite ball-handling skills needed to create his own shot in the half-court consistently. Not a threat on the pick and roll, he doesn't change speeds very well and struggles to change directions with the ball if his initial drive is cut off. Furthermore, his jump-shot loses significant accuracy if forced to pull-up off the dribble, as he converted just 11 of his 50 attempts of this nature last year. These are all skills that professional guards are expected to possess in their arsenal, of which Denmon doesn't show much of at the moment.
It is certainly of note, too, that Denmon was the least turnover prone guard in DraftExpress's database in 2010-2011. While his shot-creating abilities must improve, he does a great job staying within himself, which is the reason he was so efficient for Missouri last year. While he is certainly more of an undersized shooting guard than a real combo, his basketball IQ is quite good.
On defense, Denmon demonstrates very good lateral quickness, which combined with his toughness and aggressiveness, allows him to guard all backcourt positions at the collegiate level. This likely won't be the case in the NBA, but his effort level certainly helps his cause. He averages a solid 2.4 steals per 40-minutes pace adjusted, which speaks to his abilities as a man-to-man defender and his general defensive savvy.
Ultimately, Denmon still has his work cut out for himself in improving his NBA prospects despite being the leader of a veteran Missouri team with apparently excellent intangibles
. While there is no doubt that some NBA teams could use his combination of perimeter shooting and defense, he is undersized for an NBA shooting guard and lacks a diverse offensive repertoire to compensate.
On a team that is loaded with ball-handlers, Denmon may not have many opportunities to work on the aspects of his game that NBA scouts will want to evaluate this season. Nevertheless, with a deep run into March, and a good showing at Portsmouth, Denmon should be able to endear himself enough with all the positives he brings to the table to at least give himself a fighting chance at being drafted.