Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Point guards to see in the 2016 NCAA Tournament

It is NCAA Tournament time! Annually, we dig deep into individual statistics of players we have scouted to comprise lists of guys we think should be watched most carefully. We break our "players to watch" into five lists (one for each position).  

Away we go! Starting with the Point Guard position as it relates to the NBA Draft... 

The Payton's are everything to Oregon State hoop
Gary Payton II - Oregon State. 6'3" 190, SR. ...There is a reason Oregon State is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990. In our opinion, the main reason is Gary Payton II. The game comes easy to him. "GP II" averages 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. His defensive instincts have earned him the seventh best career Defensive Rating in the Pac-12 (those stats first tracked in 1994). His shot is not broken by any means but his career 3-pt% is just .300, and he shoots 65% from the free throw line. He makes good decisions with the ball, posting a career 1.93-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He is excellent at helping as a rebounder from the guard position. Payton II is left handed. He is an NBA caliber athlete. GP II played junior college ball prior to choosing Oregon State. He is already 23 years old, and some NBA teams may hold that against him, preferring to go with a younger prospect. Due to his potential as a two-way player, we view GP II as the best point guard prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft, all things considered. 

Denzel Valentine - Michigan State. 6'5" 220, SR. ...The undisputed floor-leader of the Spartans in 2016 is Denzel Valentine. He recently won Big Ten Player of the Year honors in a season where he averaged 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. Valentine has two triple-doubles this season (games against Boston College, and Kansas). I like Valentine's 6'5" size as it projects to the next level. He is a smart ball-player that dissects opposing defenses with his ability to read and react. He owns a 2.02-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He is one of those players that is "all over the court". He has improved his three point shooting with each season, now converting at a 44% clip. He is a career 78% foul shooter. Valentine leads the NCAA in box score plus/minus. Michigan State is +17 (per game) with Valentine on the floor. While his athleticism is average at best, Valentine still projects as a potentially valuable starting NBA guard. 

Dunn has upside 
Kris Dunn - Providence. 6'3" 205, SR. ...Dunn recently earned his second Big East Player of the Year award. He averages 16 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2.5 steals per contest. His assists and steals averages were tops in the Big East. Dunn is an acceptable three point shooter (33% career) but he would prefer to beat his man off the bounce. I would like to see his shot selection improve. He has the tools to be better than the 44% FG shooter he is (career). Likewise, his decision making is just okay for a point guard (1.71-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, career). Dunn is a career 69% free throw shooter. Dunn is a guy that immediately passes the eye test. However, if you really watch him, he has some aspects of his game that need to tighten up if he is to be the projected NBA starter many peg him to be. 

Melo Trimble - Maryland. 6'2" 175, soph. ...Trimble averages 14.4 points and 5.1 assists per game. He has a really nice shooting stroke (37% 3-pt, and 86% FT, career). In his second season as the Terps leader he sacrificed some scoring for being a better play-maker that sets up his teammates. This is a wise move by the heady guard who at 6'2" will be better suited to playing Point Guard as opposed to Two-Guard in the NBA. His career assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.57-to-1 (borderline for a PG). Trimble is excellent at drawing fouls on penetration. He led the Big Ten in free throw attempts in 2014-15, and was fifth in that category this season. Defensively, Trimble needs to improve. His defensive rating of 100.0 is slightly worse than the Maryland overall team DEFRTG of 98.2. ...We view Trimble, at this stage, to be a potential top-tier backup at the next level. 

Tyler Ulis - Kentucky. 5'9" 155, soph. ...The diminutive Point Guard was the SEC Player of the Year for 2015-16. Ulis is a "real" Point Guard with a 3.71-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. That kind of decision making ability is indeed rare in such a young player. Ulis averages 17.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. His 7.2 assists per game was best in the SEC. He shoots 37% from beyond the college arc, and he is a rock-solid 84% at the line. If there is a concern about Ulis in the NBA it is clearly his liability on defense. His DEFRTG numbers are significantly worse than the Kentucky team DEFRTG. As of today, we view Ulis as a potential tempo-changing backup in the NBA. 

The others specifically on our radar: 

Monte Morris - Iowa St. 6'2" 170, jr. 
Thomas Walkup - Stephen F. Austin. 6'4" 195, SR. 
Fred VanVleet - Wichita State. 6'0" 195, SR. 
Kadeem Allen - Arizona. 6'3" 180 jr. 
Lorenzo Bonam - Utah. 6'4" 215, jr. 
Luke Kennard - Duke. 6'5" 180, frosh. 
Frank Mason Jr. - Kansas. 5'11" 185, jr. 
Isaiah Taylor - Texas. 6'1" 170 jr. 

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