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Looking Toward The Draft: Shooting Guards

Basketball Insiders continues its series on the 2020 NBA Draft.

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This year’s NBA draft is going to be a draft like no other. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no in-person draft workouts and there will be a virtual combine. Teams are really going to have to rely on their scouting staff and what they saw in college, etc.

The 2020 NBA Draft class has been penned by some as being a bit underwhelming with no real clear cut star players. That doesn’t mean there aren’t players with the potential to be solid NBA contributors and some even All-Star caliber.

We’ve started examining the 2020 draft class by position, and we began yesterday with the point guards. We moving on the shooting guards and it’s looking like a decent group with a couple of potential sleeper picks.

I’ll start by taking a look at the players who are widely considered to be sure-fire NBA prospects and then examine a few shooting guards who might not be getting much pre-draft hype but certainly have the talent and skill to develop into solid NBA rotation players.

Anthony Edwards, Georgia – 19 years old

Edwards is considered by many to be one of, if not the most NBA ready of his draft class. He’s a big guard with good mobility. He can handle the ball, he has great athleticism and he can attack off the dribble.

He didn’t have a great shooting year in his lone season at Georgia, he only shot 40.2 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from the three-point line. But his shooting is something that can be worked on and improved once he hits the league.

In the NBA, he probably won’t have the ball in his hands as much as he did in high school and college. An improved shooting game would certainly help in that regard. But he’ll get his opportunities with the ball in his hands and his ability to score was unparalleled this past NCAA season.

Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky – 19 years old

Maxey is a player who has seen his name rise and fall on draft boards. He’s been projected to go anywhere from the lottery to later first-round. Maxey is interesting in that he’s been labeled as both a point guard and a shooting guard.

He did average 4.3 assists during his one season at Kentucky, and he has looked comfortable with the ball in his hands. He isn’t a true point guard in that sense which is why he might be better off as the ball-handler for a team’s second unit if NBA teams want him to play point guard full-time.

But like a shooting guard, he’s a prolific scorer who can shoot from a distance even if his college percentages didn’t quite reflect that. He can get to the rim and he has a nice little floater. He’s a tough player and has the tools to be a solid defensive player at the next level.

Josh Green, Arizona – 19 years old

Green is another player who is projected to go in the late lottery to mid-first round. The main skill-set that he brings to the table is his defense. That was an area he excelled in during his one year at Arizona and good defense translates well to the NBA level.
He’s also a very good shooter. He shot well from the three-point in college and in today’s NBA, shooting is certainly a premium and a must-have skill for wing players. That’s something that should also translate to the next level.

Green’s overall projection in the league is of a solid 3&D type player off a team’s bench. He has some trouble finishing at the rim in traffic but certainly has the potential to be a perennial rotation guy in the NBA.

R.J. Hampton, New Zealand – 19 years old

Hampton is yet another player whose draft projections are all over the place. Most of this is probably due to the fact that in-person workouts are not permitted and teams are pretty much relying on a player’s college footage, or in Hampton’s case, his NZ footage.

Hampton excels in transition. He’s long and athletic and can get out on the break. He can handle the ball in transition off a defensive board and go coast to coast all the way to the rim. He has great speed and can beat his defender off the dribble on his way to the rim.

He showed an ability to make plays with the ball in his hand while recognizing the defensive coverage, and that’s something he’ll need in order to make an impact at the NBA level. His shooting will also need to improve as he likely won’t have easy lanes to the rim in the NBA.

Potential Sleepers

Cassius Stanley, Duke – 21 years old

Stanley is a player who a lot of mock drafts have going in the second round but could end up having a better career than a lot of players picked before him. He is one of the most explosive athletes in the draft, but his game his much more than that.

He’s comfortable with the ball in his hands and he has a strong slashing game. He can get to the rim and can certainly finish in traffic. He can also shoot the ball; he shot 36 percent from the three-point line during his lone season at Duke.

He’s unfairly gotten a rep as being only a highlight dunker and he’s someone who could’ve really benefitted from having a true combine and workouts. Nonetheless, he has a solid skill-set that should translate to the NBA and some teams would be wise to take a flier on him.

Desmond Bane, TCU – 22 years old

There’s one thing Bane has working against him that seems to hinder a lot of draft prospects, and that’s his age. He’s a four-year senior and those players tend not to go very high on draft night. That said, teams would be wise to do their homework on Bane.

He tested the draft waters a year ago, and participated in the Pro Basketball Combine, but opted to return to school. He finished his senior year as one of the best three-point shooters in the country. That’s a skill that will certainly translate for the NBA. He is a strong catch and shoot player and he is a passable defender; a 3&D type prospect.

He isn’t projected to go very high in the draft, so some team is definitely going to get a potential steal of a player. He’s the type of guy who is overlooked and passed on and ends up having one of those solid careers where he just lasts in the league for years because he’s good at what he does and plays his role.

Sam Merrill, Utah State – 24 years old

Another older player who spent four years in college, for some reason that seems to hurt players draft stock although they tend to be much more fundamentally polished and NBA ready. A lot of draft boards didn’t even have Merrill getting drafted, but he’s appeared to have worked his way into the bottom of the second round on some.

He’s an elite shooter, one of the best in the nation. He can shoot off the dribble, he can move without the ball and come off screens, he’s a great catch and shoot player too. He can handle the ball as well and he was effective in the pick and roll as a ball-handler.

Merrill is another type of player who gets passed over and ends up having a longer career than many players pick ahead of him. There’s a high chance he might not even get drafted, and then some team can scoop up a potential steal as an undrafted free agent.

Honorable Mentions:

Jahmi’us Ramsey – Texas Tech
Tyler Bey – Colorado
Nate Hinton – Houston
Isaiah Joe – Arkansas
Immanuel Quickley – Kentucky
Skylar Mays – LSU

Edwards is probably the only one of this group that could possibly turn out to be a franchise-changing talent – but again, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some NBA level contributors among this group. Even if it is projected as a weaker draft, teams still need to fill out their rosters. As mentioned before, this draft in particular is going to require teams to really do their homework and it’ll really separate the elite front offices from all the rest.

David Yapkowitz has been a staff writer for Basketball Insiders since 2017. Based in Los Angeles, he focuses on the Pacific Division as well as the NBA at large.

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