In the days leading up to the NBA Draft, College Basketball Talk's Scott Phillips and Bulls Talk contributor Mark Strotman are analyzing the top 5 players at each position.
Today the pair look at point guards. In today's NBA the position has seen a surge of elite talent, with the likes of Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, John Wall, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving leading the way. Past them, players such as Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, Mike Conley, Jeff Teague and Kyle Lowry all have made All-Star appearances, making it an important position for NBA teams to shore up to have a chance of competing.
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This year's class should add two more potential superstars to that crop, with solid mid-first round value to be had with a handful of other players. Here's a look at who Phillips and Strotman both rank in the top 5 of this year's point guard group.
1. Emmanuel Mudiay, China: After opting to play in the Chinese Basketball Association instead of SMU, the 6-foot-5 former McDonald's All-American showed well playing with professionals overseas and has great measurables to be a potential long-time starter.
2. D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State: The Ohio State star freshman burst on the scene last season thanks to his shooting and incredible court vision and those both should translate well to the NBA game. The big questions becomes whether his lack of a great first step or explosiveness at the rim will hold him back.
3. Cameron Payne, Murray State: Not many nationally will know much about the Murray State sophomore, but he has a chance to be a very good NBA player thanks to his ability to run a team or score. With a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Payne also could become a solid defender.
4. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: The son of Harvey Grant (and nephew of Horace), Grant has good bloodlines and had a tremendous senior year at Notre Dame. He's athletic and intelligent enough to play in the NBA, but is his perimeter jumper steady enough to see the floor with a lot of minutes?
5. Tyus Jones, Duke: Jones is an accomplished point guard who won a national championship at Duke as the freshman starting point guard. He might have limited upside and Jones is shaky on the defensive end, but he runs pick-and-rolls, shoots it well from all over and has a cool and calm demeanor.
1. D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State: One of college basketball's elite point guards last season, Russell plays with phenomenal poise, wastes no steps, has an improving perimeter game and touts superb court vision. At 6-foot-5 he can defend both guard positions, and while he isn't ultra-quick he's always in the right spot and has a stellar basketball IQ. He has superstar potential.
2. Emmanuel Mudiay, China: It's difficult not to think of John Wall when watching the lightning-quick Mudiay play in transition, and having already played professional basketball for a year he should step in from Day 1 and contribute. His perimeter shot is still a question mark, but he's a potential foundation for a franchise when he puts it all together.
3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: A fifth-year senior who put Notre Dame on his back last season, Grant has excellent measurables, can handle the ball well for his size (6-foot-5) and defends. His perimeter numbers declined steeply in his final season, but some of that can be attributed to how much was asked of him by the Irish.
4. Cameron Payne, Murray State: The best defensive point guard in the class, Payne has great length, is a tough competitor and has great 3-point range. Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have bucked the notion that a mid-major point guard can't hang with the best of the best. Payne has serious potential down the road.
5. Tyus Jones, Duke: The Final Four's Most Outstanding Player in 2015, Jones is a blur in transition, ran the offense to a T in classic Duke point guard fashion and has an improving mid-range and perimeter game. Size may be an issue, as he tended to get swallowed up at times when driving to the basket.