The shooting guard position didn’t see many first-round picks in 2015, with just four college players getting chosen. This year’s group may end up about the same, but there are a lot of good shooters available, with very diverse offensive games, which may see a couple of others sneak into the late 20’s range.
I’ll be looking at players who are potential first/early second round players at each position, with their numbers in areas that are relevant to their position, as well as first round picks from 2014 and 2015 at the same positions. The idea isn’t to draw clear-cut conclusions, but it is an interesting exercise to get familiar with this year’s class, and to help gather useful information to examine further.
Here is a look at some of the major college shooting guards in this year’s draft, along with relevant numbers for their position. Here is a link to this year’s point guard comparisons. Here is a link to the small forwards.
|Devin Booker (2015)||6'6||206||18||18.7||47.0||41.1||60.0||30.3||29.4||49.1||98.3|
|Rashad Vaughn (2015)||6'6||210||18||22.1||43.9||38.3||54.7||28.7||32.5||43.0||88.9|
|Justin Anderson (2015)||6'6||227||21||17.5||46.6||45.2||61.0||21.0||27.3||48.1||91.1|
|RJ Hunter (2015)||6'6||190||21||21.3||39.5||30.5||55.2||32.0||33.3||51.2||73.8|
|Nik Stauskas (2014)||6'6||205||20||19.7||47.0||44.2||64.2||38.7||24.4||52.8||71.7|
|Zach LaVine (2014)||6'5||180||19||15.4||44.1||37.5||54.5||23.3||28.6||44.4||85.4|
|James Young (2014)||6'6||215||18||17.7||40.7||34.9||53.6||25.8||22.5||52.2||97.6|
|Gary Harris (2014)||6'4||210||19||20.7||42.9||35.2||56.1||24.2||42.6||50.5||86.4|
|Jordan Adams (2014)||6'5||220||19||23.1||48.5||35.6||60.3||32.9||70.5||34.0||98.1|
|CJ Wilcox (2014)||6'5||195||23||21.0||45.3||39.1||59.8||29.0||21.6||52.9||73.3|
*Played just 15 games due to injury
Shooting percentages courtesy of hopp-math.com
The first thing that stands out is the size of this year’s prospects. After each first round shooting guard pick measured 6’6” last season, only two, Michael Gbinije and Caris LeVert, both 6’7”, measure at least that tall, with the rest 6’5” or under. More telling is that two potential lottery picks, Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray, are each only 6’4”. With the NBA looking to get bigger and longer at every position, this is something to keep an eye on, and it may cause some of the shorter players to make some adjustments to their games. There is an idea that Murray could also play the point guard position, though his performance at the spot as a freshman at Kentucky was not all that impressive.
Another interesting thing to notice is that this year’s group is older than what we’ve seen the past few years, with just two freshmen, Murray and Malik Beasley, on the list, and the rest are juniors and seniors.
The scoring from this year’s class is fairly consistent across the board, with the low end coming in at a solid 18.4 points per 40 minutes, and Hield, coming off a tremendous season, a big outlier at over 28 points per 40 minutes.
Since we are talking about shooting guards, the next key area to look at is three-point shooting. As the chart shows, this year’s class is full of very good college shooters, with everyone at 39 percent or higher from behind the arc, and with each of them taking at least one-third of their total field goal attempts from that distance. One thing to be aware of when comparing seasons is the defensive rule changes that went into effect this past season, all to the benefit of creating more offense. Open shots started to become the norm, especially as more teams looked to play zone defense to avoid foul trouble.
Hield was a standout in this category, as well, putting up the highest three-point percentage of the players listed the past few years, while also taking the highest percentage of his field goal attempts as threes, with 54 percent. Denzel Valentine wasn’t far behind, just over 44 percent from behind the arc, and almost 53 percent of his total shots from long-range, while also acting as Michigan State’s primary playmaker for much of the season.
I’ve included a look at the percentage of shots players took that were two-point and three-point jumpers to give a better sense of which players were strictly jump shooters and which had a more versatile scoring game. Compared to last season, when most players fell somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of their shots coming from jumpers, not unusual for a college shooting guard, this year’s group of players seems to have more diverse offensive games, with most players falling between 60 and 70 percent. Going to back to the rule changes I discussed earlier, teams were encouraged to attack the basket more, with most players unable to defend well one-on-one, or guys not trying too hard to avoid fouling. It’s also noteworthy that players didn’t seem to take as many mid-range jumpers as has been the norm in previous years. Two players, Hield and Gbinije, had less than 20 percent of their shots from the mid-range area, the lowest amounts in the past few years of draft picks.
One last area worth examining when it comes to shooting guards is their ability to create their own shot, and I’ve included the percentage of both two- and three-point jumpers which were assisted to help give an idea. As has been the trend, most of the players showed strong ability to create their own mid-range shots, though this group shows all players but two having less than 20 percent of their mid-range jumpers being assisted.
There was a bit more disparity in three-point attempts assisted, with players like Hield and Sheldon McClellan showing a good ability to create their own long-range attempts. On the other end, you have players like Murray and Beasley who both had around 90 percent of their threes being assisted. Kentucky went through great pains to free Murray for spot-shooting attempts in the second half of the season, after limited success when letting him create his own shots. Beasley, a freshman like Murray, was also much more comfortable when he had time to get set to shoot from behind the arc. As the two youngest in the group, you hope that experience will help them a bit more in creating their own shots. If not, their expected roles in the NBA can go down different paths.
There is a good amount of depth in this year’s shooting guard class, though not necessarily first-round material. But, it is primarily a veteran group, and many could find a niche at the NBA level soon, even as second-round picks.