2015 NBA Draft: Analyzing the Top 5 shooting guards


2015 NBA Draft: Analyzing the Top 5 shooting guards

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 shooting guards. It's arguably the weakest position in this year's class, with no real standout performer who can play both guard positions in addition to his ability to shoot. Still, there's shooting aplenty at the position, and the consensus top three players at the position all are 19 years young.

Here's a look at who Phillips and Strotman both rank in the top 5 of this year's shooting guard group.

Be sure to take a look back at their top 5 point guards analysis, top 5 small forwards, and top 5 power forwards too.

Scott Phillips

1. Mario Hezonja, Barcelona: Playing some of the best competition in the world outside of the NBA, the 6-foot-8, 200-pound Hezonja has all of the tools to be a high-level shooting guard. His jumper is workable but a bit inconsistent and he's very athletic as well.

2. Devin Booker, Kentucky: Playing on a loaded Kentucky team that sent seven players to the NBA Draft, Booker was at-times the go-to scorer for the Wildcats this season. His ability to shoot (41 percent 3-point) and score off the dribble should help NBA teams immediately.

3. Rashad Vaughn, UNLV: Vaughn had an incomplete freshman season at UNLV thanks to a knee injury, but he's a potential two-way guard who can put up points if he's given plenty of shots. With an ability to shoot or attack the basket, Vaughn could be a solid scorer in this league with some refined skillwork.

4. R.J. Hunter, Georgia State: Many label Hunter as a good shooter -- although his 29 percent from 3-point range doesn't show it. But the Georgia State product is a good floor spacer who is also great at sharing the ball and he's very long with a 6-foot-10 wingspan.

5. J.P. Tokoto, North Carolina: The North Carolina product struggled with his jumper during college, but he's an elite athlete and a very good passer for a guard. With his ability to move laterally and leap, Tokoto could become a good defender in the right system.

[REPORT: Jimmy Butler could go after shorter deal in free agency]

Mark Strotman

1. Devin Booker, Kentucky: The youngest player in this year's draft, Booker is a sharpshooter with plenty of upside. If he can improve defensively he could wind up being one of the top three players in his class.

2. Mario Hezonja, Barcelona: From the little I've seen, Hezonja is going to thrive in an up-tempo system where his versatility can be utilized best. His jump shooting will improve over time, as will his 200-pound frame. A top-10 talent.

3. R.J. Hunter, Georgia State: Hunter is known for his clutch 3-pointer in the NCAA Tournament, but he's much more of a playmaker who will provide a nice scoring touch on a team's second unit.

4. Rashad Vaughn, UNLV: A talented pure scorer and just 19 years old, Vaughn has elite two-way potential. His body is NBA-ready, but he'll need to be a better decision maker at the next level.

5. J.P. Tokoto, North Carolina: The best defensive prospect at his position, Tokoto could wind up being a defensive stopper on a team's second unit. If his jumper ever improves, he could be the steal of the draft.

Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut


Seven years ago today LeBron James slammed the Bulls' championship window shut

The Bulls couldn't have known it at the time, but when LeBron James blocked a Derrick Rose 3-point attempt in the final seconds of Game 5 in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, it was the closest those Bulls would ever get to the promised land.

It happened on May 26, 2011, seven long, long, long years ago today.

The game was an ugly one and certainly a fourth quarter the Bulls would love to have back. They took a 12-point lead on a Ronnie Brewer 3-pointer with 3:53 remaining. The Heat closed the game on a 19-4 run, with James' emphatic block on Rose the lasting image of the series.

James finished with a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds, and added six assists, three steals and two blocks in 46 minutes.

Rose went just 9-for-29, finishing the series shooting 35 percent from the field after being named league MVP over James.

It's probably unfair to say James and James alone shut the Bulls' championship window. Rose's ACL tear the following postseason realistically was the biggest culprit. But these Bulls had won 62 games, had homecourt advantage, had the MVP, the Coach of the Year and all the momentum. And still they couldn't get it done against James.

That win also sent James to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. He's been there every year since, though that could change as he faces the Celtics on Sunday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson scored 10 of 12 points for the Bulls during a fourth quarter run in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals, the series clincher, and famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch that series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.