Michael Carter-Williams earned Rookie of the Year honors last season while running the point for the Philadelphia 76ers. This year’s point guard class lacks a prospect with a ready-now label, but the group is led by Dante Exum, a potential top-five selection from Australia.
The top point guard prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft:
1. (No. 5 overall) Dante Exum, PG/SG, Int. (Australia).
Overview: Exum is considered a wild card by many because he is not well known. His size and athleticism has people around the NBA intrigued, with pre-draft workouts playing a big part in where he ultimately lands.
Analysis: Depending on who you believe, Exum could be going as high as No. 4 or could be dropping out of the top 10. Standing 6-feet-6 with an almost 6-10 wingspan, he has great size for a point guard.
2. (14) Tyler Ennis, PG, Fr., Syracuse.
Overview: After one year at Syracuse, Ennis’ natural instincts and maturity are what make him stand out as one of the best point guards in this class. He’s extremely efficient with the ball in his hands and is labeled a pure point guard in a class with many combo prospects.
Analysis: Ennis is eerily similar to Portland’s Damian Lillard in that they are almost the same height and have almost the identical wingspan. Ennis is not as athletic as Lillard, but he’s an extremely intelligent point guard who plays the floor general role very well.
3. (16) Elfrid Payton, PG, Jr., Louisiana Lafayette.
Overview: Coming from Louisiana Lafayette he’s flying under the radar for most, but his almost 20 ppg average and above average defense have caught the eyes of scouts.
Analysis: Payton could be dubbed a sleeper as he’s being mentioned as a potential lottery pick. His offensive game is tailor made for the NBA; he’s good in transition, gets in the paint and is very good in pick-and-roll situations.
4. (24) Shabazz Napier, PG, Sr., Connecticut.
Overview: Nobody benefited more from a strong NCAA tournament than Napier. Considered a second-rounder most of last season, Napier’s hot tournament looks to have propelled him into the first round.
Analysis: NBA scouts were hesitant to give Napier credit for a strong senior year under coach Kevin Ollie until his impressive tournament run. He has shown he has an NBA-ready offensive game with a nice step-back jumper that rivals fellow former UConn star Kemba Walker.
5. (28) Deonte Burton, PG, Sr., Nevada.
Overview: Not well known coming out of Nevada, Burton has a pro-style game and is a 20 ppg scorer. Playing on a mediocre team has hurt Burton’s stock, he has not received the exposure he has probably deserved.
Analysis: Many NBA scouts think Burton could be the most athletic point in the draft. He has an explosive first step and finishes strong around the rim. His athleticism has led many to believe he’s capable of handling any type of NBA offense.
6. (36) Nick Johnson, PG/SG, Jr., Arizona.
Overview: Undersized for a shooting guard and will need to improve at the point, but possesses elite athleticism and leaping ability. The First Team All-American leaves Arizona after his junior year with a 16.3 ppg average.
Analysis: Johnson has all the athletic ability you could ask for in a shooting guard, he’s just too short to play it at the NBA level. If he can show he can play a traditional PG role, Johnson will definitely get a lot of interested looks from NBA teams.
7. (40) Russ Smith, PG, Sr., Louisville.
Overview: After explosive but erratic play in previous seasons, Smith returned for his senior year at Louisville to show scouts he could play point guard and earned First Team All-America status.
Analysis: Smith has impressed in workouts and continues to show he’s capable of playing PG and not be an undersized gunner. His senior season coupled with his strong workouts have him moving up everyone’s boards.
8. (41) Vasilije Micic, PG, Int. (Serbia).
Overview: Still only 19 years old, Micic has established himself on the international basketball circuit as a top point guard since he was 16.
Analysis: Micic continued his strong play with an excellent showing at the Adidas EuroCamp recently. He seemed to be the leader of the European team and displayed a nice all-around game that included orchestrating the offense and hitting timely perimeter shots. Many believe he could find his way into the first round.
9. (42) Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Jr., Missouri.
Overview: A Tulsa transfer, Clarkson was a key component to Missouri’s hot start to last season and went on to be named second team All-SEC with a 17.5 ppg average.
Analysis: A solid offensive prospect, Clarkson would probably be better served to stick around for his senior season to increase his stock. However, he has shown enough talent offensively to get himself noticed and should get plenty of looks from NBA teams looking to add a point guard.
10. (47) Jahii Carson, PG, So., Arizona State.
Overview: Carson burst onto the scene as a freshman and followed it up with an inconsistent sophomore year in 2013-14. He might be the quickest player in the draft, and his ability to change speeds and direction is a problem for anyone in man defense.
Analysis: As is the case with all little guys, Carson’s size is going to be an issue. Listed generously at 5-11 and 186 pounds, Carson is going to have to show his speed and athleticism can overcome his lack of height. He has shown flashes of it but needs to be consistent.
11. (59) Semaj Christon, PG, Soph., Xavier.
Overview: Athletic 17 ppg scorer whose ability to slash and get to the rim has him feeling that leaving Xavier after two years is the best decision.
Analysis: Christon made a name for himself at Xavier with his above average athleticism and strong offensive game. Up to this point in his career he has been able to get by without having to show much of a perimeter shot because he has been so effective in other areas of the offense. He’ll have to show he can shoot to make it in the NBA.
12. (60) Aaron Craft, PG, Sr., Ohio State.
Overview: Craft’s offensive prowess is a big question mark at the NBA level, but his leadership and defense will give him a chance to prove himself.
Analysis: Since the season has ended Craft hasn’t done anything to show he has improved offensively, but has shown that his leadership and defense continue to be his calling cards. At some point his offensive game will have to evolve for him to get a shot in the NBA.
13. (66) Keith Appling, PG, Sr., Michigan State.
Overview: Wrist injury midway through his senior season hurt Appling’s naturally aggressive scoring ability and forced him to focus on distributing and play-making.
Analysis: The thought around most NBA circles is that Appling’s wrist injury has caused him to become
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