Ford: Ranking the PGs

Ford: Ranking the PGs

Postby JSM on Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:23 pm

Chad Ford of ESPN wrote:Before the combine, a number of NBA executives I spoke with said they were struggling to get any real separation in the group after months of scouting. But after watching the players on the court together, getting real measurements and spending 30 minutes interviewing the players one-on-one, a number of NBA GMs said they felt more confident in ranking the top point guard prospects.

I spoke with 15 different GMs and executives and gave them the task of ranking the top 13 point guards in the draft, including a couple of players -- like Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry and Toney Douglas -- that some GMs see as 2-guards. I then took those 15 responses and averaged them to get a more comprehensive ranking of where each prospect fell.

Here's a look at where they stand after the combine:

1. Ricky Rubio (avg. 1.9)
Rubio walked away with the vote, though it was closer than some would have guessed. He received only eight first-place votes, barely over half. Four had him as the second-best point guard in the draft, three GMs ranked him third and one GM had him ranked as low as fourth.

There seems to be a growing number of GMs who are questioning Rubio's lack of elite athleticism, his shaky jumper and his lack of physical strength. It's still likely that Rubio is the first point guard taken on draft day, but it's no longer a guarantee.

2. Stephen Curry (avg. 2.4)
Curry was somewhat of a surprise as the second-place finisher, which speaks to how well he was received at the combine, where he shot the lights out, measured a little bigger than expected and looked like he fit in with the other point guards on the floor. He also was a pro in the interviews, and many of the older GMs feel the fact that he grew up around the NBA game will help him make a quick transition to the pros.

Three GMs had him ranked as the top point guard in the draft, and he received seven second-place votes, too. One GM had him ranked sixth.

This coincides with a number of things I heard at the camp that had the Thunder, Wizards and Warriors all looking at possibly selecting Curry before the Knicks draft at No. 8.

3. Jonny Flynn (avg. 3)
The straw poll also suggests that Flynn is on the rise mainly for three reasons. First, his play toward the end of the season at Syracuse gave a lot of GMs confidence in his leadership abilities.

Second, some surprising measurements (Flynn cracked the 6-foot barrier in shoes) have helped alleviate fears about his size. It now looks like he's the same size as Chris Paul.

Third, a number of GMs said Flynn gave the best interview of any of the prospects. His personal charisma seems to be helping him close the sale.

Two GMs had him as the best point guard in the draft, and three others had him ranked second. His lowest score was a five.

Flynn is getting interest from Sacramento, Golden State, New York, Milwaukee and Indiana, and looks like a lock for the lottery at this point.

4. Jrue Holiday (avg. 3.8)
Holiday has been the other high riser over the course of the past few weeks, and no one probably helped himself more than Holiday at the combine.

He stacked up well against the other players physically, looked comfortable playing the point in drills, knocked down his jumper and received high marks in interviews.

Holiday actually netted one first-place vote in our poll and garnered several second- and third-place votes. He placed no lower than fifth on anyone's list.

With teams like the Kings, Warriors, Knicks, Bucks and Pacers all looking at him (basically the same list as Flynn), he, too, looks like he's a lock for the lottery.

5. Tyreke Evans (avg. 4.5)
Evans was one of just five players who skipped the drills; the word from his camp is that he's a lock for the top 10. He did measure really long for a guard, sporting a standing reach that was just one inch below Blake Griffin's.

However, the GMs I spoke with appear to have concerns. While one GM ranked him as the best point guard prospect in the draft, no one ranked him second and only three GMs ranked him third. On the flip side, Evans got one sixth-place vote and one seventh-place vote.

Some GMs expressed skepticism that he was a point guard and a number of them said that, until he learns to shoot the basketball better, defenses will just sag on him, limiting his effectiveness.

A number of teams including the Wizards, Timberwolves, Warriors, Knicks, Raptors and Bobcats are giving him a serious look, but his range in the draft might be a little wider than we previously thought.

6. Jeff Teague (avg. 6.5)
Teague has a tough decision to make soon. While a number of GMs like him, many think he should go back to school for another year.

His highest ranking in our poll was sixth, and his lowest was eighth. That's probably good for a late lottery to mid-first-round pick in the draft. But given Teague's talent, he could do better with a breakout season at Wake Forest next year.

Teague's range probably starts with the Pacers at No. 13. The Sixers, Wolves, Hawks and Mavericks will also take a long look at him.

7. Brandon Jennings (avg. 6.8)
Jennings' numbers were the most suspect of the group. A number of GMs admitted that they don't know enough about him. And all of them were disappointed that he was skipping the Reebok Eurocamp. They felt like they needed to see him in workouts against other top prospects to get a better feel.

One GM ranked him as the fourth-best point guard prospect in the draft, and two others had him ranked fifth. On the other end of the spectrum, one GM ranked him ninth, and four had him ranked eighth. The rest of his numbers were spread pretty evenly between sixth and seventh.

So where will he land? Sacramento will give him a look as high as No. 4, but it wouldn't be a shock if he slipped out of the lottery.

8. Eric Maynor (avg. 8)
Maynor is the sleeper of the group. Every GM claims they like him, but don't love him. That might be because Maynor is one of those players who does just about everything well, but doesn't have one particular area in his game that stands out.

Maynor drew some praise and some criticism at the combine. A few GMs said they really liked his poise and demeanor on the court. Others said his game was better suited to game situations than the drills we saw in Chicago.

Maynor was spread out pretty evenly between seventh, eighth and ninth on most boards. Three GMs had him rated as high as sixth, and one GM had him ranked 10th.

Maynor's range should be about the same as Teague's: starting at Indiana (No. 13) and ending at Dallas (No. 22).

9. Ty Lawson (avg. 9.5 )
Lawson is coming off a rough week: Some GMs didn't like him in the combine setting, he measured the shortest of any point guard in the draft, and there were questions about his conditioning and a potential toe injury. Put all that together and Lawson seems to be the one guy slipping on a lot of boards.

Two GMs had him ranked as high as sixth on their point guard list, but a number of others had him much lower, with two GMs ranking him 10th and one GM ranking him 11th.

10. Patrick Mills (avg. 10)
Mills impressed some GMs with his speed at the combine, but a better test will come this weekend at the Reebok Eurocamp. Right now his targets have to be Lawson and Maynor, as he tries to move up the draft board and decide whether or not to stay in the draft.

Mills' range was pretty even. He had one eighth-place vote and several ninth-place votes, but was ranked as the 10th-best point guard prospect on most boards. He never fell below 11th on anyone's draft board.

11. Darren Collison (avg. 11)
For a second straight year, Collison is being overshadowed by a teammate who averaged fewer points and assists per game than he did. He looked fine at the combine, but he's having a hard time winning any love right now.

Collison wasn't ranked higher than 10th on any board, and was ranked dead last by one GM. It's still likely that he cracks the first round, but it doesn't look like he's going to catch anyone other than Mills at this point.

12. Nick Calathes (avg. 12)
Obviously, Calathes is getting more love in Greece than he is in the U.S. Panathinaikos paid him a lot of money to stiff the NBA and head to Europe. Maybe there's some backlash in the numbers, but this result is pretty consistent with what we've been hearing all season.

If Calathes slips into the second round, it won't be a bad thing. He can earn more money when he does decide to come play in the NBA, because second-round picks are limited by the first-round rookie salary scale.

13. Toney Douglas (avg. 12.5)
Douglas' agent David Falk has been pushing Douglas hard, but so far it hasn't taken hold. Virtually everyone had him ranked dead last, although he did have one eighth-place vote and one ninth-place vote.
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