A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

2013 NBA Draft Talent Grades: The Point Guards

with 3 comments

Here are my talent grades for the PGs in the NBA Draft. The PGs I find relevant enough to grade are Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. McCollum, Myck Kabongo, Dennis Schroeder, Shane Larkin, Isaiah Canaan, Phil Pressey and Nate Wolters. (Seth Curry will be on my SGs list) *May 8th update: Added Pierre Jackson, Erick Green, Matthew Dellavedova, Ray McCallum. Removed Russ Smith (returning to school). *June 2nd update: Added Lorenzo Brown

I give the PGs grades from 1 to 11 in the areas of physical impact, skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) and feel for the game, according to this rubric:

11: Transcendent, 10: Incredible 9: Elite, 8: Great, 7: Very good, 6: Decent, 5: Average, 4: Lacking, 3: Weak, 2: Very poor, 1: Awful

What the overall grades mean:
25+: Perennial all-star talent, 23-24: Blue Chip starter to Perennial all-star talent, 19-22: Blue Chip starter talent, 17-18: Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent, 14-16: Rotation player talent, 12-13: Deep bench to rotation player talent, 11 or lower: Deep bench player talent

First, here are my grades split between the 3 categories:

Physical impact talent grades:

Dennis Schroeder – 8 / Great

Myck Kabongo – 7 / Very good

Lorenzo Brown – 7 / Very good

Michael Carter-Williams  – 5 / Average

C.J. McCollum – 5 / Average

Pierre Jackson – 5 / Average

Trey Burke – 3 / Weak

Phil Pressey – 2 / Very Poor

Shane Larkin – 2 / Very poor

Isaiah Canaan - 2 / Very poor

Nate Wolters – 2 / Very poor

Matthew Dellavedova - 2 / Very poor

Erick Green – 2 / Very poor

Ray McCallum - 2 / Very poor

Schroeder and Kabongo lead the way for physical impact. Schroeder has a strong first step attacking the basket and respectable size for the position. Kabongo and Brown also have a nice combination of speed and size. Pierre Jackson is as explosive as any of the PGs, but also the smallest at a generous 5’10. Carter-Williams is long which will help defensively, but I do not see a plus athlete for the position, in addition he is skinny which may hurt finishing. McCollum has the ballhandling and size to get to the basket and finish, but is also not a plus athlete. Burke, Pressey, Larkin, Canaan, Wolters, Green, McCallum, Dellavedova are at a likely weakness as slashers and physical impact players, with questionable athleticism and/or size for their position.

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grades:

Trey Burke – 9 / Elite

Matthew Dellavedova – 9 / Elite

CJ McCollum – 8 / Great

Shane Larkin – 8 / Great

Isaiah Canaan – 8 / Great

Nate Wolters – 8 /Great

Erick Green – 8 / Great

Pierre Jackson – 7 / Very good

Lorenzo Brown - 5 / Average

Michael Carter-Williams - 4 / Lacking

Dennis Schroeder – 4 / Lacking

Myck Kabongo - 4 / Lacking

Phil Pressey - 4 / Lacking

Ray McCallum – 4 / Lacking

Burke and Dellavedova leads the way in skill impact. Burke is a terrific perimeter shooter, shot creator and passer. Dellavedova’s shooting at the 3pt and FT lines are also excellent and he’s a talented, creative passer. McCollum, Larkin, Canaan, Wolters, Jackson, Green are also among the NCAA’s standout perimeter scorers. The rest are a work in progress. It’s hard to rank players below average when they’ve yet to prove into the NBA they can’t develop to respectable levels, but Brown, Carter-Williams, Schroeder, Kabongo, Pressey and McCallum are not known as reliable perimeter scorers and could easily perform worse than the grades I gave them.

Feel for the Game talent grades:

Trey Burke – 9 / Elite

Matthew Dellavedova – 9 / Elite

C.J. McCollum - 8 / Great

Shane Larkin – 8 / Great

Isaiah Canaan - 8 / Great

Phil Pressey – 8 / Great

Nate Wolters – 8 / Great

Erick Green – 8 / Great

Ray McCallum – 8 / Great

Myck Kabongo - 7 / Very good

Lorenzo Brown - 7 / Very good

Pierre Jackson – 6 / Decent

Michael Carter-Williams – 6 / Decent

Dennis Schroeder – 4 / Lacking

An impressive group. Burke and Dellavedova’s feel for the game jumped off the screen in college, playing with a superior control, fluidity and awareness of teammates. McCollum, Larkin, Caneen, Pressey, Wolters, Green, McCallum, Kabongo, Brown are also smooth, intelligent points. Carter-Williams and Jackson can be erratic at times, but also have solid vision and awareness on both ends. Schroeder is hard to get a read on, but appears to lack some control or awareness driving, relying on his physical tools.

By adding up these scores, my rankings of PG prospects:

Tier 1 – Blue Chip starter talent grades (Grades between 19-22)

C.J. McCollum

Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Trey Burke

Physical impact talent grade: 3 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Hard to pick between Burke and McCollum, who impress me for similar reasons. Both should have strong perimeter shooting/scoring games, both with with range and superb ballhandling creating jumpshots and space off the dribble. Both are smooth, fluid and smart offensive players. McCollum is considered less of a guarantee to play PG, but I see ballhandling and feel for the game what separates players who can play PG from thus forced to SG the most and McCollum is great and not just good in both. McCollum’s size makes me sold on his ability to slash and create points in the paint, albeit Burke’s skill, passing and decision making is more of a guarantee. My gut saying McCollum has the higher upside if his shooting and slashing are better than my grades indicate, but I expect both to compete for rookie of the year next season with the award favoring guards who can handle the ball and create offense for themselves immediately.

Matthew Dellavedova

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 9 / Elite

Feel for the Game talent grade: 9 / Elite

Total talent grade: 20 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Dellavedova may be the weakest athlete of this group, despite solid size for his position and ballhandling otherwise helping him attack the basket. Where he shines is his skill and feel for the game. He scored 3s at a high volume and has the highest FT% of this group at over 85%, with his ballhandling gives him solid perimeter scoring potential. Moreso, he’s arguably the most creative passer of this group. He’s a very smooth and intelligent player, seeing the game a step ahead of others. Despite his physical limitations, Dellavedova’s skills and feel for the game makes me rank him as a likely starting PG in the NBA.

Lorenzo Brown

Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good

Total talent grade: 19 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Lorenzo Brown is impressive physically. He has a strong first step, which with good ballhandling skills helps him attack the basket off the dribble. Brown is skinny, but is a huge 6’5 for a PG which may help him finish. His size also may help him physically impact the game defensively.

Brown also has an above average feel for the game, as a relatively smooth, crafty and instinctive PG. His feel helped him turn into one of the NCAA’s top distributers by his final year at 7.2 assists per game.

As a skill impact (shoot, post, pass) talent Brown is a question mark. He is not known as a shooter hitting only 26.3% from 3 his junior year, albeit a more respectable 35.1% his sophomore season. His 77.1% FT mark as a junior is solid and indicative of workable mechanics. His passing and his size giving him post potential, are also encouraging. I settled on an average grade in the category, though he could in reality be better or worse than that mark when all is said and done.

With an average to good jumpshot, I see Brown as having the athleticism, size and feel to be a starter. If his shot translates at a poor level he will likely struggle to establish himself as a starter. Lorenzo is a high upside point guard.

Tier 2 – Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grades (Grades between 17-18)

Myck Kabongo

Physical impact talent grade: 7 / Very good

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade: 7 / Very good
Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Myck is a nice PG prospect. He’s big and athletic enough to attack the basket consistently, with a fluid game and awareness of his teammates. His problem is an unproven perimeter shooting game. Although I expect his physical tools and feel keeps him in a rotation alone, he’ll need a perimeter scoring game to start in the NBA. Myck has the upside of a blue chip player if he improves to a plus level in the area.

Shane Larkin

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Weak

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Isaiah Canaan

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Nate Wolters

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Erick Green

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 8 / Great

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

All four players have the same grade, despite some differences in style between Larkin and the other 2. Larkin is faster but very small, while Caneen’s size (a little small), Green’s size (average) and Wolters’ size (big) is respectable for a PG, but they lack the speed to slash to the basket well in the NBA. All are good bets to make it because they can shoot and are crafty, smart players. While unlikely stars, I expect Larkin, Canaan, Wolters and Green to be reliable NBA players.

Pierre Jackson

Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 7 / Very good

Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 18 (Rotation player to Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Jackson is the fastest and arguably the most athletic point guard of this group, but at barely 5’10 is also tiny and will struggle to finish at the basket. With his ballhandling, his ability to attack the basket still is enough for an average physical impact grade. His perimeter shooting is above average for a point guard. Jackson also has solid awareness and instincts, despite some erratic-ism.  Jackson may end up starting for some years in his career before settling into excellent backup status.

Tier 3 – Rotation player talent grades (Grades between 14-16)

Dennis Schroeder

Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade: 4 / Lacking

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

I am not basing this off a ton of footage, so take my grades for Schroeder and other European players with a grain of salt. Schroeder is getting buzz for his ability to get to the basket and size for his position, but the rest of his game has question marks. His control and awareness looks to be a question mark. In addition, like Kabongo it’s accepted Schroeder’s perimeter shooting game needs development if he wants to start in the NBA.

Michael Carter-Williams

Physical impact talent grade: 5 / Average

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade: 6 / Decent

Total talent grade: 16 (Rotation player talent grade)

Although Carter-Williams is very long for a PG, I am not a huge fan of his physical impact tools. He has average explosiveness and his lack of strength, makes him struggle finishing plays at the basket after slashing. Despite his high assist numbers, I also grade Carter-Williams’ feel for the game as merely decent, there are times when he looks out of control instead of smooth when driving to the basket, albeit he also has moments of greatness in anticipation and vision. Much of his career will hinge on his perimeter shot which is very worrying at this stage of his career. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he can be an average shooter or near it in his skill impact grade, but he could be regraded at a lower level in the category if his shooting is poor in the NBA. His passing also helps his skill impact grade. Overall, Carter-Williams’ length and feel for the game gives him high defensive potential at PG, but offensively without assured slashing or shooting ability, he’s a huge question mark. Carter-Williams can turn himself into a starter if his shooting develops, but I also see major bust risk if he’s taken into the lottery.

Phil Pressey

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking
Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

Pressey is somewhat of a less skilled version of Larkin. He’s quick, but lack of size makes his slashing and physical impact game unlikely to translate. His strength is a high feel for the game and instincts level, with strong control and craftiness. Pressey’s career will depend on his shooting ability. If he is questionable scoring in the paint, he needs the perimeter shot to drop to produce. Like the other points I will give his development the beneift of the doubt by not grading him too low in the category, but if he is a poor shooter instead of average in the NBA he’d likely struggle to find a long term place in the league.

Ray McCallum

Physical impact talent grade: 2 / Very poor

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 4 / Lacking

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 14 (Rotation player talent grade)

McCallum has an excellent feel for the game and fluid awareness of teammates. However the rest of his talent is lacking. He has sluggish athleticism attacking the basket and has struggles as a perimeter shooter. McCallum is a smart enough player to stick in the league, but barring fixing his shooting game I do not see the physical and skill talents to start.

Factors outside of talent grades: I consider Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) grades the hardest to gauge. Because of their age I trust Burke, McCollum, Dellavedova, Larkin, Canaan, Wolters, Green’s strong scores as likely to be accurate, while players in developmental stages are harder to predict.

Taking this into account, if purely ranking upside I would rank it: 1. McCollum 2. Burke 3. Brown 4. Dellavedova 5. Kabongo 6. Jackson 7. Schroeder 8. Wolters 9. Green 10. Larkin 11. Canaan 12. Carter-Williams 13. Pressey 14. McCallum. Brown, Kabongo and Schroeder are the main beneficiaries of ranking by upside, presuming they make a leap up in skill. If judging worst case scenario, I would rank it (with a high ranking as positive) 1. Burke 2. McCollum 3. Dellavedova 4. Wolters 5. Green 6. Larkin 7. Canaan 8. Jackson 9. Brown 10. Kabongo 11. Schroeder 12. Carter-Williams 13. Pressey 14. McCallum. In this case Brown, Kabongo, Schroeder, Carter-Williams, McCallum and Pressey would find it hard to mark a consistent place in the league due to lack of useable perimeter skill plays.

Final rankings and an estimate of where they rank on my overall list:

1. C.J. McCollum (top 10)
2. Trey Burke (top 10)
3. Lorenzo Brown (top 14)
4. Matthew Dellavedova (top 14)
5. Myck Kabongo (top 20)
6. Erick Green (top 20)
7. Shane Larkin (top 20)
8. Nate Wolters (top 20)
9. Isaiah Canaan (top 20)
10. Pierre Jackson (top 20)
11. Dennis Schroeder (top 30)
12. Michael Carter-Williams (top 30)
13. Phil Pressey (top 40)
14. Ray McCallum (top 40)

For fun considering he led the way all year for PGs, my grade for Marcus Smart:

Physical impact talent grade: 8 / Great

Skill impact (Shoot, post, pass) talent grade: 5 / Average

Feel for the Game talent grade: 8 / Great

Total talent grade: 21 (Blue Chip starter talent grade)

Smart has impressive explosiveness and size, making it likely he’s an impact guarding attacking the basket and finishing. His physical tools also give him the talent to physically impact the game defensively at a high level. Smart suits his name, as a smooth and crafty player, with strong feel for the game on both ends. The shooting game is the concern with Smart, albeit post potential helps raise my skill impact grade for him. I would give the Smart the highest upside of PGs in this class ahead of Burke, McCollum and Smith, but with greater risk than Burke and McCollum. Because of the importance of finding players with star upside, I’d take Smart before the other PGs in this class but would pause at taking him top 5.

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Written by julienrodger

May 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm

3 Responses

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  1. That was a good read.

    Do you think that Larkin would be a good fit for the Pacers? I would love to see him replace DJ Augustin.

    Mike

    May 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    • If he’s available by the time Indy picks that’s excellent value and he fits their culture. I have a hunch he doesn’t get past 2 Atlanta picks and 2 Utah picks ahead of that, though

      julienrodger

      May 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    • Oops Nate Wolters’ grade slipped through the cracks on my initial post, edited in

      julienrodger

      May 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm


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