*As a brief introduction to the upcoming NBA draft, we’ll be looking at 10 different prospects, 2 at each position. DraftExpress and NBADraft.net were used as mock projections based on their relative accuracy in the past, and because Chad Ford wants money. After reading the profiles we’re asking you to put yourself in a hypothetical situation; If you were Bryan Colangelo and you had to choose one of the two players, which would you choose, and why?
This year’s draft is being touted as one of the most complete classes we’ve seen in years, going all the way back to the 2003 draft that netted the Raptors their most recent franchise player/drag queen. One of the glaring weaknesses in the 2012 draft class is a lack of quality point guard prospects. DraftExpress is currently projecting only two point guards to go in the top 20 picks, and we begin our look at the 2012 draft with those two players: Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall.
Damian Lillard (#13 DraftExpress, #11 NBADraft.net)
As a 6’2, 21-year-old junior from Weber State, Lillard is a shoot first point guard with the skills to back it up. He has solid (if unspectacular) handles that allow him to attack the basket with both hands, and a shooting range that extends to the NBA three point line. He thrives at getting to the charity stripe, where he converts 88 per cent of his attempts, and is continuing to improve an already impressive mid-range game. Playing in the Big Sky Conference, there have been questions about the level of competition Lillard has been facing, and it’s possible his offensive numbers are inflated. With an unspectacular assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5:1, and no clear indication that he’s had a big impact on improving the play of his teammates, you wonder about his potential to improve those facets of his game at the nextlevel. He is a capable defender who uses his quickness and strength to handcuff opposing point guards, but once again the level of competition is a concern. No matter the conference, however, Lillard is one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball and an intriguing prospect for any team looking to increase the offensive output from their point guard position.
Best Case: A poor man’s Stephen Curry
Worst Case: Jerryd Bayless
Kendall Marhall (#18 DraftExpress, #16 NBADraft.net)
The best way to describe Kendall Marshall is as an old-school, pure point guard, a dying breed in the current NBA game. Possessing great size for the point at 6’4, the 20-year-old sophomore broke onto the scene in his freshman season when Roy Williams turned to the inexperienced freshman after running out of any other viable options. Marshall did not disappoint. Boasting perhaps the best passing ability in the nation as well as a great understanding of economy of movement, Marshall is unlike any point guard prospect in recent memory. His basketball IQ allows him to overcome (to a certain extent) the negatives in his game, and accentuates the positives. But before I gush more about his beautiful point guard play, there are concerns that must be taken into account. His offensive game is practically non-existent, and while he is a capable defender, he lacks the foot speed to project as an above average defender at the next level. He is athletically limited, which hurts his ability to get to the rim and subsequently draw fouls. Marshall represents something that’s in short supply in the NBA, and would be an asset for any team looking for an upgrade at the point.
Best Case: Mark Jackson
Worst Case: Eric Maynor