The 2015 NBA Draft is a little more than two weeks away, and while much of the focus is on the two centers featured atop most prospect rankings, this class features many highly skilled point guards who could make a strong impact as rookies.
Here are the top 15 point guards in the 2015 class.
1) D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State (6-foot-5, 180 pounds)
Russell does a bit of everything. He creates for teammates, consistently knocks down outside shots and penetrates defenses with his quickness and athleticism. He isn’t a liability defensively, although that area of his game does need improvement. His ability to play both guard positions also provides valuable versatility at both ends of the court.
2) Emmanuel Mudiay, Congo (6-5, 190)
Injuries and not playing in college this season make Mudiay a bit of a risk, but from a talent standpoint, he’s arguably the best prospect in this class. He’s a fantastic scorer who uses his size and high-end athleticism to drive to the basket and score over taller defenders. He also excels in transition and is among the better rebounding guards in this class. He needs to make smarter decisions to limit his turnovers, but that kind of improvement should come with NBA experience.
3) Cameron Payne, Murray State (6-3, 185)
Payne is more of a scorer than a playmaker, but his passing skills are plenty good enough to earn him minutes as a point guard in the NBA. He’s also an efficient outside shooter whose perimeter defense really improved this past season. One of the few concerns with Payne is that he didn’t consistently play against top level competition with Murray State.
4) Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (6-5, 205)
Grant has more size and strength than most guards in this class. He can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor and hits the glass at both ends of the court to rack up rebounds. His polished two-way skill set makes him among the most NBA-ready guard prospects.
5) Tyus Jones, Duke (6-1, 190)
Jones showed impressive leadership skills and poise during Duke’s run to a national championship. He is one of the few pass-first point guards in this class, with great playmaking skills and decision-making. You’d expect those qualities from a point guard coached by Mike Krzyzewski.
6) Delon Wright, Utah (6-5, 190)
Wright can play both guard positions, but his excellent on-ball defense, size and high-end athleticism make him an exciting prospect for teams picking in the top 20.
7) Olivier Hanlan, Boston College (6-4, 190)
Hanlan is a quality scorer who finishes at the rim and shoots a high percentage from beyond the arc. He might be more of a shooting guard with his score-first style of play, but he’s still an above-average playmaker with more college experience than most of the guards in this class.
8) Terry Rozier, Louisville (6-2, 190)
Rozier proved in college that he’s a smart playmaker with the ability to be a high-volume scorer. He has a quick first step off the dribble, and his underrated strength allows him to score at the rim. His outside shooting should earn him a fair amount of minutes off the bench as a rookie capable of providing instant offense.
9) Juwan Staten, West Virginia (6-0, 190)
Staten played four years at West Virginia and is a quality playmaker who excels in pick-and-roll situations and creating offense for teammates in transition. His size isn’t ideal for a starting point guard, but he’s a smart, reliable player at both ends of the floor. There shouldn’t be too many concerns about his perimeter defense at the NBA level.
10) George de Paula, Brazil (6-6, 197)
You won’t find many point guard prospects with better size and strength than de Paula, who excels defensively. He’s quick enough to stay in front opposing players and has the length to block a lot of shots on the perimeter. His primary area for improvement is his outside shot, and his lack of a polished offensive game is a bit worrisome, but we might see a team take the risk and draft him late in the first round.
11) Andrew Harrison, Kentucky (6-6, 215)
Harrison played in a lot of high-pressure situations with the Wildcats and has tremendous size for a primary ball-handler. He’s not a consistent outside shooter, though, and it remains to be seen if he can create his own shot against quality NBA defenders. Harrison is a classic high-risk, high-reward prospect.
12) Kenneth Smith, Louisiana Tech (6-3, 180)
Smith is a pass-first point guard who excels in transition, gets the ball to teammates in the right spots and limits turnovers with good decision-making. He likely won’t be much of a scorer as a rookie, but his playmaking and defense should make him a lock to be selected in the second round.
13) Joseph Young, Oregon (6-2, 182)
Young proved to be an efficient scorer (20.7 points per game) and a quality shooter from beyond the arc with Oregon this season. He doesn’t have ideal size for a shooting guard, but he is capable of playing both guard positions. Young projects to be a mid-second-round pick.
14) T.J. McConnell, Arizona (6-2, 188)
McConnell isn’t an elite scorer, but he showed good shot selection and converted on a high percentage of his shots (55.7 percent overall) last season. Those skills, combined with his consistent free-throw shooting and above-average passing, make him a safe pick in the second round.
15) Keifer Sykes, Wisconsin-Green Bay (6-0, 167)
Sykes is a pretty good defender with above average athleticism, but his inconsistent outside shot and the fact that he didn’t play against quality competition with Wisconsin-Green Bay — no NCAA Tournament experience — likely will drop him to the middle of the second round.
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