Point Guard Talent Runs Deep In NBA Draft

Conley Jr., Law IV lead talented point guard class in 2007 NBA Draft

June 6, 2007

By Steve Aschburner

Special to CSTV.com from The Sports Xchange

 

Height makes right in the NBA, based on the old Economics 101 laws of supply and demand.

 

As former Boston Celtics great turned Minnesota Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale often says, "I can go to any street corner in the city and find five guys who are 6-foot-1. Show me the street corner where the 7-footers are."

 

The 2007 NBA Draft, though, likely will turn McHale's view a little topsy-turvy. General Managers and personnel evaluators haven't been overly impressed with the crop of available point guards this spring, and it's possible that fewer than a dozen will be selected among the 60 picks of the first and second rounds.


 

 

 

That doesn't necessarily mean they're scarce. And it doesn't suggest the NBA soon will be shifting from its current trend of small ball. The number of power forwards playing center, shooting guards moving to small forward and shorties bringing up the ball still is driven by necessity, not any conspiracy against the unusually tall.

 

But there's evenness to the point guard class after the first four or five prospects, which makes teams confident they can find players among the undrafted invitees to summer leagues and training camps. Here is a glimpse of the Top 10 point guard prospects:

 

1. Mike Conley Jr., Ohio State, Freshman, 6'1'', 180

Conley is the consensus choice as the draft's top point guard after his quarterbacking of the Buckeyes to the Final Four. He is a super-quick ball-handler with great ability to penetrate, and he has a pass-first outlook that's not easy to find these days. Playing with Greg Oden helped him learn to navigate and pass to a big man. His outside shooting needs work, but the biggest question on Conley concerns his single year of college experience. Point guards usually need more seasoning, as shown by the likes of Sebastian Telfair and Monta Ellis (until this season). An instant impact would be asking a lot.

 

2. Acie Law IV, Texas A&M, Senior, 6'3'', 195

Scouts like his size and strength at this position and the way he takes care of the ball. Law made 50 percent of his field goal attempts as a senior, reflecting his ability to slash and the confidence he has in his mid-range shot. Athletically, Law isn't as fast or quick as others, and that shows up at times in his defense.

 

3. Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech, Freshman, 6'5'', 195

Crittenton's size is his greatest asset. His height opens up his view and passing angles over rival point guards. There's value in that, though many NBA teams have gone away from big points. Crittenton shot better at George Tech than many expected (45 percent from the field and 36 percent from the arc), has good quickness and takes charge on offense. He can get reckless with the ball and defensively gets caught reaching.

 

4. Gabe Pruitt, USC, Junior, 6'4'', 270

Pruitt is raw as a playmaker, much more developed as a scorer, leading to questions about whether he's a true point guard. But he has the quickness and the knack for getting to the basket, and he should be fine from the NBA three-point line. With the necessary confidence and athletic ability, Pruitt just needs more work, coaching and game experience to learn his craft. 

 

5. Taurean Green, Florida, Junior, 6'0'', 177

Green has tremendous confidence, boosted by the Gators' success the past two seasons. He's a bold and competent outside shooter and aggressive at heading into the paint and taking punishment. Playing with NBA-quality big men has helped him but might have caused some carelessness, too, in the form of turnovers. His size is borderline, and he didn't have to carry the leadership load for the Florida squad.

 

6. Jared Jordan, Marist, Senior, 6'2'', 190

Jordan thinks and knows the position as well as anyone in the class, the proverbial coach-on-the-floor type. He is a solid perimeter shooter and, as a defender, he's strong enough and is willing to stick his nose in. Scouts don't see Jordan as a guy who'll break down his man off the dribble, and his average quickness shows up defensively at times. He does have the touch to deliver passes at the right moment, in the right place.

 

7. Ramon Sessions, Nevada, Junior, 6'3'', 190

Sessions impressed folks in Orlando with his playmaking and care of the ball (13 assists and just 1 turnover), but many still think he needs another college season at Nevada. He mostly blossomed last season, so another year could really help. Sessions does show the head for his position and wants to get better while seeking out his teammates on offense.

 

8. Aaron Brooks, Oregon, Senior, 5'11'', 160

Size and strength are his biggest (and smallest?) issues, given the physical demands he'd face in the NBA. He has the quickness you'd expect and he keeps opponents close enough, setting up the drive with a pretty reliable mid-range game. As speedy as you'd expect, Brooks is strong in transition, finishing and dishing, and he's solid at the foul line. He shows poise but doesn't always have the game on a leash, and he'll neglect his playmaking chores for stretches.

 

9. Sean Singletary, Virginia, Junior, 5'11'', 175

Singletary didn't fare so well at the Orlando pre-draft camp, his size posing expected problems defensively. He was a good shooter from the field and from the line for most of his stay at Virginia, and he attacks the basket with a purpose (while taking a pounding) and enjoys running an offense. His ballhandling sometimes gets away from him; too often, he tries to make difficult passes over smarter ones.

 

10. Dominic James, Marquette, Sophomore, 5'11'', 180

Leaping ability is what makes James stand out to fans, but that doesn't figure to be enough for the scouts. He is compact and strong, a decent finisher and a surprising rebounder. His quickness is an asset at both ends, and he works hard defensively. But opposing point guards will be able to back him down. James' shooting range isn't great, another reason why he's at his best in an open-court game.

 

Steve Aschburner is a senior NBA reporter and columnist, covering the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 13 seasons and serving as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association from 2005-07.