Josh RiddellMarcus Paige
was nearly the hero of the national championship game with his incredible double clutch shot to tie their game against Villanova with just under five seconds left, but the Tar Heel defense gave up an open jumper to Kris Jenkins
and Paige's career ended in heartbreak. Nonetheless, Paige had an excellent four seasons for North Carolina and now hopes to earn a shot in the NBA.
Paige is a versatile offensive player, and while he likely projects as a point guard for the majority of his minutes at the next level, he is able to contribute off the ball as well. He is a high IQ player, always seeming to make the right decision and putting himself in position to make winning plays.
Paige isn't an exceptional athlete and his measurables are average for a NBA guard, so he will have to prove he is skilled enough to impact the game on a regular basis against more physically gifted players. He was last measured at 6'2, (albeit with a solid 6'6 wingspan) and still possesses a narrow 164 pound frame which hasn't added much weight since our first measurement back in 2011 (156 pounds).
Paige is a good creator for his teammates on the ball, sporting a 3.05 assist to turnover ratio. He makes the simple pass out of ball screens or in transition with good vision to see the open man and deliver the ball to them in scoring opportunities. He won't try to force tough passes, turning the ball over only 1.5 times per 40 minutes pace adjusted
, fewest among point guards in our top 100. He's not the flashiest passer, but is happy to run his team's offense with his high basketball IQ, will value the ball and usually takes what the defense gives him.
Paige was not a prolific or highly efficient shot-creator inside the arc for most of his college career, sporting just a 45% 2-point percentage in his four years, while getting to the free throw line at a very low rate (2.9 attempts per-40). He's not a guy who will simply blow past his defender or break his man down off the dribble to get to the rim on a regular basis. When he does get to the rim, he isn't a great finisher converting at a below average rate of 44.9% according to Synergy Sports Technology. He tends to shies away from contact, shooting only 3.4 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted
as a senior. He struggles with his floater outside the restricted area as well, only going to it as a last resort and not demonstrating the required touch for it to be a weapon against rim protectors.
While he doesn't project to be a reliable paint finisher at the next level, he is a capable shooter off the bounce at 45.1% on 51 attempts according to Synergy Sports Technology. He can attack from the three point line into the paint and pull-up off one or two dribbles going to his right or left. Being able to hit these mid-range shots consistently will be key for him as they will be a big part of his offensive repertoire without the ability to be a prolific finisher closer to the rim.
Paige had a rough shooting year on catch and shoot opportunities and the ability to knock these shots down off the ball will help his offensive profile. After shooting a combined 39.2% on threes his sophomore and junior season, that accuracy shrunk to 35.6% overall and 31.9% on catch and shoot chances categorized by Synergy Sports Technology. He isn't just a standstill spot-up player as he has shown the ability to come off screens, dribble handoffs or relocate off a cut for a jumper, so there is plenty of hope that his spot-up jumper will bounce back with better spacing in the NBA. While he won't be the focal point of an offense, he can provide the defense with different looks from time to time.
Defensively, Paige's overall physical profile suggests he may have some struggles adjusting to guarding bigger and stronger players in the NBA initially. He isn't blazing quick laterally and can get pushed around at times going up against bigger guards, or when trying to fight through screens.
He did improve this part of his game as his college career moved on, though, putting better effort in and showing some peskiness staying in front of opponents and getting in the passing lanes using his length. Still, he'll have to work hard to develop into a solid defender at the NBA level, so sustaining a high effort level and improving his fundamentals to play well within a team concept will be key.
Paige's offensive versatility as a shooter and playmaker makes him an intriguing prospect, but he has to prove to NBA scouts that his average physical tools won't be a hindrance when going up against higher level competition, particularly on the defensive end. He does have the skill-set, mental toughness and feel for the game that should give him plenty of chances to prove he can be a rotation player as combo guard coming off the bench.