In the second part of the Celtics Town NBA Draft position rankings, I am going to rank the top ten shooting guards. The top of this year’s shooting guard crop is very talented, but beyond the top four or five, not too many players are certain of getting drafted, nevermind drafted in the first round.
It’s fun to look ahead at how players attributes project to the NBA. Certain guys on this list are built for the NBA’s pace and game. Others might see their college production be the last time they produce on a big stage, the end of their glory days. We at Celtics Town have done the research and watched enough games to predict how these players games translate to the next level, and have written our player profiles for each of the players.
Enjoy today’s top ten shooting guards.
10. Robert Vaden (Last year’s stats: 17.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 1.0 spg 34.6 3P %)
Debuting at our No.10 spot is Robert Vaden, the sharpshooting stud out of UAB. He is an unknown player that gets limited credit because he plays in Conference USA. With that said, this dude can flat-out shoot. He is the type of player who can catch fire with the flick of a switch. His size and strength indicate that he can be successful at what he does best at the next level. Personally I think he would have been a tremendous player in one of the power conferences (where he was good at Indiana for two years), which would have gotten him more exposure at the national level. I like the fact that he is 24 years old and has more maturity then most shooting guards in this draft, but most NBA draft executives find his ceiling to be rather limited due to his older age. He scored 28 second-half points at Kentucky this season which shows me that he can perform on the big stage. Scouts will knock his poor shot selection, however I just see the fact that he played on only a decent team in a bad league. Basically it was him trying to get on the radar of NBA scouts. Put on the right team with good coaching it seems evident to me that RV can be successful at the next level. He is a not a guaranteed draft pick, but look for him to play well on someone’s summer league team earning him a spot on a roster. I would like to see the Knicks or Warriors somehow get their hands on him.
9. Jermaine Taylor (Last year’s stats: 26.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 1.9 apg)
Jermaine Taylor is likely unkown by most casual basketball fans, but NBA Draft gurus and NBA GMs have become quite fond of the 6’4″ shooting guard. Taylor is as good a scorer as there is in this draft. He slashes with the best of them but, if the defense takes away the lane, he has the ability to step out and hit the three. Already possessing an NBA body and NBA athleticism, Taylor must improve his shot selection to become a valuable NBA contributor. Playing at Central Florida, Taylor was more or less a one-man show, but he will have to learn how to become more of a role player to succeed in the league.
8. Marcus Thornton (Last year’s stats: 21.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 1.6 spg 47.2% FG)
With less weight on his back than he had at LSU, Marcus Thornton should thrive on the NBA level. He played a very large role for LSU this past season but figure he will not have a similar role in the NBA. Thornton does a little bit of everything, which will make him a lucrative selection for a team in the late first round early second. He is the type of player who can thrive in any system, as he does not lack intangibles. He is certainly not going to kill you with isolations, but if you get caught sleeping defensively he will kill you with his ability to move off the ball. Thornton can even post, however I do not know how many shooting guards he can post up at the NBA level. His weaknesses consist of a mediocre pull-up jump shot, scoring off of pick and rolls, and scoring through isolations off of the dribble. He would be a good fit for a team like the San Antonio Spurs a team in desperate need of youth. He definitely possesses first-round credentials and he would be higher on my board except for the fact that he played in the weakest of the power conferences.
7. Jerel McNeal (Last year’s stats: 19.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 2.0 spg, 39.8 3P %)
I totally fell in love with McNeal prior to the 2008-2009 season and he did not let me down. He was the best player on a good Marquette team that lost in the NCAA tournament to Missouri in a tough game. He played well this past season, picking up the slack for injured point guard Dominic James. McNeal has the ability to be a good defender in the NBA. Sometime down the road I would like to see if he can make a transition to point guard. I think he can as he possesses good ball handling skills and is a good playmaker. With his athleticism and wing span he could pose a serious matchup nightmare for opposing point guards. For now though, we will consider that he will be playing off guard to start his career. His ability to catch and shoot and move without the ball makes him really appealing to a team selecting in the mid second round. Add that to the fact that he is one of the toughest players in this draft and you have the ingredients of a solid professional down the road. He does not possess any glaring weakness except for the fact that he is small for the position in the NBA. Look for a team like the Utah Jazz to take him if he still on the board at No. 20 in the second round. I think McNeal had first round talent, however I do not think a team will take the chance on an undersized shooting guard in the first round.
6. Dionte Christmas (Last year’s stats: 19.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.5 spg, 35.2 3P %)
I like Christmas a lot, as he has grown on me a fair deal this year while he was posting good numbers at Temple. He has the ability to stretch the defense with his shooting ability, but will attack the basket when necessary. He is not the type of player who tends to force anything offensively. He plays within in the flow of the offense which should help his draft stock. Depending on how the top of the first round plays out Christmas has a chance to be selected late in the 1st round. He has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble; something always looked upon by NBA scouts. Christmas has good size and good sense of how to move the ball. He is also a product of playing in a weaker league in the Atlantic 10 conference. He was probably the No.2 player in that conference behind Xavier’s Derrick Brown. He has a good upside if he can somehow improve his ball handlings skills and become just a little more athletic. If he did this, he would be more versatile and be able to play some point guard in addition to the shooting guard. Could go as high as 29 to the Lakers, but do not expect him to fall any further than Portland at No. 38.
5. Wayne Ellington (Last year’s stats: 15.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.7 apg, 48.3%FG)
The tournament MOP will not let down, I repeat will not let down, the GM that decides to take him. I have seen him all over draft boards but honestly he is the type of player that will make an impact immediately at the next level. He possesses a skill set that can drive NBA scouts wild. He did not get to show out as he was on a loaded UNC team that rolled through most of their opponents. I saw Wayne four years ago and he has improved his all-around game. He can shoot in variety of ways from off the dribble, coming off screens and spotting up anywhere on the floor. Ellington really knows how to play the game which should translate to playing minutes for someone next season. He should make an immediate impact in the NBA solely off his shooting ability. In some ways I see a little bit of Joe Johnson in him, and if the Hawks are smart they won’t pass on him if he is still on the board at No.19. The dude is simply a winner and he knows what kind of work he must put in to be successful at the NBA level. I believe that Ellington is an underrated athlete, as a lot of scouts say that is one of his weaknesses.
4. Jeff Teague (Last year’s stats: 18.8 ppg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 48.5 FG % 44.1 3P %)
When I see Mr. Teague play, I can only imagine what it would be like to be guarding him. He terrorizes defenders by using his quickness and his ability to get to the rim. He is built more like a point guard, which could hurt his stock in the draft. He is similar in a way to Allen Iverson when you actually think about it. He is not a natural point guard. but can score in bunches in a variety of ways. He is fearless attacking the basket and he will finish above the rim on defenders. All of his weaknesses come into effect when he is put into the roll of point guard. His only weakness at the shooting guard position is the fact that he is too small to guard the position in the NBA. Ideally, he is the best fit for a team that has a bigger point guard that can defend the shooting guards. Teague possesses the tools that NBA scouts love at the shooting guard position. His quick release and ability to get to the free throw line should land Teague somewhere in the lottery. If he is still on the board when Detroit picks at No.15, they should give him serious consideration.
3. Gerald Henderson (Last year’s stats: 16.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.2 spg, 45% FG)
Finally we have reached my favorite prospect at this position. Henderson has all the credentials to be a star in this league. He played at Duke under arguably the greatest basketball coach of all-time. He has a real defensive mindset to go along with superior athleticism. He can be a force in the NBA on the defensive end for years to come if he fulfills his full potential. He has a good mid-range shooting ability. He can score in a variety of ways including creating his own shot. He is already matured coming out of college as a junior and he is the type of player willing to do the intangibles. The only knock on Henderson is the range on his jump shot and the fact the he doesn’t posess a killer instinct offensively. This can easily be fixed as NBA workouts can truly help a player like Henderson. Henderson has a high ceiling and he should certainly be a lottery selection. I must note in this that Gerald Henderson has an array of dunks that I have not seen out of such a complete player.
No. 2 DeMar DeRozan (Last year’s stats: 13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 52.3 FG %)
In his first season at USC DeMar showed why he still has a ways to go, but he also showed just how tantalizing a prospect he is. The first half of the year, Derozan largely disappeared, unwilling or unable to take control of a game. Once he became acclimated to the college game, Derozan showed why critics have been raving about him, becoming USC’s best player, a force on offense, defense, and the boards. This athletic freak-show defies gravity when he attacks the basket. Add to that a great work ethic and you have the formula to create an NBA All-Star. He is not the best defender in the country, however with his size and strength he could become one of the top perimeter defenders in the league. The sky is the limit for this kid but he will need some time to come into his own in league. He would be a perfect selection for the T’Wolves with the 6th pick because he can easily to be added to that young rotation.
No. 1 James Harden (Last year’s stats: 20.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.7 spg 48.9 FG %)
The things I like about Harden the most is his play-making ability, along with his old school savvy. It almost like he plays like a modern day crafty veteran. Harden doesn’t possess blazing speed, but he knows how to get past his defender and to the hoop. He reminds me of Paul Pierce in the way he seems to be going in slow motion as he goes by his defender, all the way to the hole for a layup or dunk. Harden is strong, and utilizes his strength greatly. Some people will knock him for his underwhelming (to say the least) performance in the NCAA tournament, but seeing Harden for the rest of his college career tells me not to doubt him He is in my opinion the most NBA ready player in this year’s draft. He has a great understanding of the game of basketball, and should be ready to step right into an NBA starting rotation.