NBA Draft: Top 10 Shooting Guards
Florida's Corey Brewer tops the list of available two guards
June 12, 2007
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By Steve Aschburner
Special to CSTV.com
Everyone wants to be Michael Jordan. Hardly anyone aspires to be Bruce Bowen.
Last time we checked, though, Bowen was pulling down a cool $3.75 million annually, was on his way to his third NBA championship ring in five years and was about to turn 36 years old, still making his living the way he loves while out-earning and out-faming most of his Cal State-Fullerton classmates.
It took Bowen some time to catch onto the value of stifling defense in the NBA, especially when he was playing for mediocre-or-worse teams that rarely knew its value, either. But at age 30, after knocking around Europe, the CBA and four other NBA clubs, Bowen landed with the San Antonio Spurs, made himself a pest, nuisance and borderline dirty defensive player and settled into a rewarding career as an indispensable role player on a perennial title contender.
The lesson for shooting guards and other wing players headed into the 2007 NBA draft and dreaming of a long stay in the league, year after year of six and seven-figure salaries? Defense matters. Defense is important. Defense keeps you employed.
"I take a lot of pride in my defense," said
Hear that? If the top choice at his position, after back-to-back NCAA titles with the Gators, can talk humbly enough about the value of defense, there's no excuse for the others on this list not to embrace that half of the game. Yet it figures to be the biggest adjustment for most of them when they get to the next level.
Here is a look at 10 top shooting guard prospects:
Corey Brewer, Jr.,
Brewer's defensive prowess and inclination is what separates him from the pack in this group. He cites
Nick Young, Jr., USC: 6-foot-6, 200
"Smooth" and "fluid" are the adjectives you hear most about Young, an outstanding athlete with skills to shine at both ends and an eager, easy attitude. His intensity was questioned while in college because he stood around too much when he didn't have the ball in his hands. He is a good shooter, especially from mid-range, and has spent long hours this spring getting stronger.
Rodney Stuckey, So., Eastern Washington: 6-foot-4, 205
Stuckey has many scouts convinced that he can play both backcourt spots in the NBA, a nice option given his in-between size at shooting guard (his natural spot). He's strong and he's quick, which enables him to get to the rim and to the line. Stuckey's shooting range is limited and some folks question his Big Sky background, but that shouldn't keep him from getting selected late in, or soon after, the lottery.
Daequan Cook, Fr., Ohio State: 6-foot-5, 210
Cook likes the comparisons he hears to
Morris Almond, Sr., Rice: 6-foot-6, 215
Almond's shooting ability, scoring touch (26.4 ppg last season) and build have drawn comparisons to former Knicks' guard Allan Houston. He nailed almost 46 percent of his three-point shots as a senior, so a few feet back to the NBA arc shouldn't pose a problem. Almond moves well without the ball and is a willing passer. He could pick up the pace on defense.
Strength and toughness are the scouts' biggest questions with Fernandez, whose skills, potential and grasp of the game usually make them forget such reservations. Fernandez played well in
A quick release on his shot, range out to the three-point line and the knack for creating scoring chances off the dribble make Belinelli a dangerous offensive threat from nearly every spot on the floor. He sees the court well, though he needs to bulk up and assert himself on the defensive end. He also should spend time on his shooting form, which has been erratic at times, leading to pronounced hot and cold streaks.
Arron Afflalo, Jr., UCLA: 6-foot-5, 215
A good, reliable, heady player who doesn't awe observers with any one skill or physical attribute, Afflalo does a lot of the so-called little things that help good teams win but don't earn a guy on the bubble extra time in training camp, if the team fit is wrong. The UCLA product is strong physically and mentally but doesn't assert himself when he has talented teammates.
Trey Johnson, Sr.,
Johnson scored more but shot worse last season, boosting his average to 27.1 points as a senior but slipping from 45.5 percent to 41.4 percent from the field and from 44.1 percent to 33.3 percent from the college arc. He handles the ball well enough to play point guard at times and gets into the paint well. He didn't have the quality of teammates or competition that most others in this class had.
D.J. Strawberry, Sr., Maryland: 6-foot-5, 200
Pre-draft camp drills and testing showed Strawberry to be among the best athletes in this draft, which shouldn't surprise anyone given his gene pool (son of baseball's Darryl Strawberry). His defense is ahead of his offense at this stage of his development, and he's quite aware that his father's checkered reputation precedes him with a lot of casual sports fans. "I just have to show people I'm my own person," Strawberry said recently.
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.