Looking at the NBA draft's point guards not named Markelle Fultz
This is the first in a five-part series listing the top players, by position, in the NBA Draft. For a look at shooting guards, click here.
Monday marked Day 1 of Markelle Fultz’s meet-and-greet with the Celtics, a pair that seems destined for each other with the Celtics owning the top overall pick and Fultz projected by most to be the first player selected.
He has the size, length (6-foot-9 wingspan) and court vision to play both guard positions, a collection of qualities the Celtics could benefit from, for sure. And with his ability to beat players off the dribble and get to the rim, he gives the Celtics a player besides Isaiah Thomas who can get to the rim off the dribble and potentially finish.
As good as Fultz is, he’s not the only point guard in this draft with significant upside. Here’s a look at the other top point guards, most of whom will hear their names called at some point during the June 22 draft.
2. Lonzo Ball, 6-foot-6, 190 pounds, UCLA
His court vision sets him apart from all point guard prospects in this draft class. You love his size in that it allows him to see over most defenses which feeds into his success as a facilitator. With more NBA teams looking to play with greater pace and space, Ball’s all-around game makes him an ideal fit on just about any team in the league right now.
DRAFT RANGE: Top-3
3. De’Aaron Fox, 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, Kentucky
This 19-year-old is a special talent in large part because of his blistering, John Wall-like speed with the ball. That, along with an above-average vertical coupled with long, lanky arms, are among the reasons why he’s considered a top-3 point guard in this draft. The biggest knock on the lefty is his shooting. Despite coming up big in the biggest games (he outplayed Ball convincingly in UK’s 86-75 NCAA tournament win over UCLA), he shot just 24.8 percent on 3’s last season – a number he’ll have to improve upon at the next level.
DRAFT RANGE: Top-5
4. Dennis Smith, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, N.C. State
There is no doubt that all the tools are there for Smith to be an excellent pro. But his ability to put them all together with any semblance of consistency, is another story. He put together one of the most productive seasons in school history which was good enough for him to be named ACC rookie of the Year. The main concerns with Smith are that he relies on his athleticism too much, his focus comes and goes, and he doesn’t get his teammates involved enough. Still, his talent will make him a difficult player for teams in the middle or latter stages of the lottery to pass on.
DRAFT RANGE: Top-10
5. Frank Ntilikina, 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, International
The first thing that jumps out to you about Ntilikina (pronounced nee-lee-KEE-nah) is his size. He stands 6-foot-5, but has a wing span that’s on the north side of 7-feet. That alone gives you a sense of what NBA teams see as a potentially elite defender. But just as impressive is his court vision and willingness to get others involved. Like most young guards, Ntilikina needs to add strength, be more vocal in leading a team and make teams pay more often when they play off him looking for the pass rather than him shooting.
DRAFT RANGE: Lottery (top-14)
6. Derrick White, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Colorado
This draft was top-heavy with five point guards likely taken in the lottery. From there, it’s a huge decline. But at or near the top of the next batch of playmakers is Derrick White who came from out of nowhere to rank among the top point guards statistically in this draft. Against power conferences, he averaged 20 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game which was better than how he fared against mid-major and low-major teams. That speaks to how the bigger the game, the better he played. But being a senior, there are questions as to how much better, if at all, will he get especially after playing just one year of Division I basketball after transferring from a Division II school in Colorado two years ago.
DRAFT RANGE: Late-first, early second-round
7. Frank Jackson, 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, Duke
A strong showing at the NBA Combine last month went far in masking the uneven play he had during his lone season with the Duke Blue Devils. Teams love his size and ability to score from various points on the floor. His ball-handling isn’t bad, but it definitely could use some work. And while he certainly has to improve in his play-making skills to run the point in the NBA, Jackson’s overall game makes him someone to keep an eye on during the latter stages of the first round.
DRAFT RANGE: Late-first, early second round
8. Jawun Evans, 5-foot-11 ½, 185 pounds, Oklahoma State
One of the more unheralded playmakers nationally, Evans’ game may be the best suited for the NBA among this year’s draft hopefuls. Most of his time last season was spent running an offense that relied heavily on the pick-and-roll to work. He used great change-of-pace dribbling to be an effective scorer. But at the next level, he has to become a more consistent 3-point threat and finish at the rim better – which is easier said than done when you’re under 6-feet tall.
DRAFT RANGE: Early second round
9. Edmond Sumner, 6-foot-5 ½, 176 pounds, Xavier
One of the nation’s best at his position getting to the rim and finishing. Has great size, length and a very quick first-step at getting past a defender. But his perimeter shooting needs a lot of work which is why he’s not rated higher. He has to show teams during workouts that he can shoot the ball some just to solidify himself as a solid, second-round pick.
DRAFT RANGE: Second round to undrafted
10. Frank Mason, 6-foot-0, 189 pounds, Kansas
Mason is an example of what happens when you stay in college too long. You’re entire game gets picked apart with the focus being on what you don’t do well or can’t do at all. The one thing we do know about Mason – he’s a winner. He makes winning plays and has seemingly been at his best when the stakes are high. By no means does he translate to being a starting NBA point guard in part because he’s not a great shooter and doesn’t have great size. But he could develop into a very reliable backup in this league, provided he winds up in the right situation with the right team willing to give him time to grow.
DRAFT RANGE: Second round to undrafted