2014 NBA draft: Shooting guard rankings
With the 2014 NBA draft rapidly approaching, SI.com is providing positional rankings for the top prospects in this year’s class. We've already looked at the best point guards and small forwards. Today, we break down the top 10 shooting guards.
1. Andrew Wiggins (6-foot-8, 197 pounds)
Kansas, freshman | Age: 19
2013-14 stats: 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 44.8 FG%, 34.1 3FG%
Strengths: Wiggins possesses arguably the greatest upside of any player in this draft. Elite quickness, a 44-inch vertical and 7-foot wingspan make the Canadian the most physically gifted player in the class. He averaged 17 points as a freshman without an extremely diverse offensive skill set, dominating in the open floor and also being effective on the offensive glass. A great first step lets him get past defenders, and there’s talk of Tracy McGrady-like upside if Wiggins continues to develop. With his tools, he’s ready to step in on the defensive end from Day 1 and make an impact, even if his shooting and ball skills are still catching up. Wiggins, who is set to be a top three pick, could become an elite two-way player with the right development.
Weaknesses: The biggest question with Wiggins is his consistency. He put on a show in a 41-point game against West Virginia, but scored a measly four against Stanford in an NCAA tournament loss. Which Wiggins will we see more often in the NBA? His lack of aggressiveness could be a red flag, or it could just be his personality -- he just doesn’t have the same on-court motor as some of his peers, but guys like McGrady have thrived despite perpetually relaxed demeanors. Teams will give him every chance to succeed and improve his range of offensive skills, but that’s a two-way street that requires Wiggins to want that success just as badly. Given all the hype attached to his name the past couple of years, anything less than stardom will be a disappointment. -- Jeremy Woo
2. Gary Harris (6-4, 205)
Michigan State, sophomore | Age: 19
2013-14: 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals, 42.9 FG%, 35.2 3FG%
Strengths: An intelligent, versatile combo guard, Harris brings a polished blend of shooting and defense that is hard to find in this draft. He’s young for his class and turns 20 in September, suggesting there’s development still to come. The intangibles are great -- Harris is tough, smart and a high-character player who comes from a winning program. Some think he can transition to playing the point full time. Even though he's not a point guard, he should be able to assume some lead-guard duties when needed. He will continue to improve at the next level and help on both ends of the floor.
Weaknesses: Harris is a little undersized as a two-guard, and not an elite athlete. He’s not as adept attacking the rim as NBA teams would like, either. Although he’s a capable shooter with nice form, he shot only 35.2 percent from three-point range last season. He’s best served playing alongside another guard who can create looks for him -- based on his current skill set he’s more of a secondary backcourt option. If he proves to teams that he can run the point, it’ll bump his value. Though he’s a pretty safe pick, he might not have as high of a ceiling as some of the other guards in his first-round draft range. -- JW
3. Nik Stauskas (6-6, 207)
Michigan, sophomore | Age: 20
2013-14 stats: 17.5 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 47 FG%, 44.2 3FG%
Strengths: In a league where teams increasingly value three-point shooting, Stauskas has emerged as a potential lottery pick after two seasons at Michigan in which he shot 44 percent from beyond the arc. Stauskas -- who put on a ridiculous backyard-shooting display (70 for 76 on threes) -- has a quick release and smooth stroke. He is particularly lethal when spotting up, scoring 1.34 points per possession on such play types last season. The biggest reason Stauskas’ stock has risen over the past year is he’s shown he can be more than just a shooter. Stauskas adeptly handled defensive pressure and proved a capable off-the-dribble shooter.
Weaknesses: While Stauskas added muscle after his freshman season and demonstrated he can be more than a shooting specialist, questions remain about whether he can beat athletic defenders off the dribble. Stauskas’ defense is another concern. He lacks the lateral quickness to keep ball handlers in front of him and can be slow to close out on shooters. Stauskas also contributed only sparingly on the glass last season, posting the lowest offensive and defensive rebounding percentages among teammates who used at least 20 percent of available possessions. -- Chris Johnson
4. James Young (6-7, 213)
Kentucky, freshman | Age: 18 years
2013-14: 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 40.7 FG%, 34.9 3FG%
Strengths: A gifted scorer with ideal size for his position, Young measured a 7-foot wingspan at the draft combine and possesses wiry strength that helps him create space for his jumper. The lefty relies heavily on his perimeter shot, with a pretty release and good range. Young didn’t fully display his prowess at Kentucky: He shot only 34.9 percent from deep, a low number he'll be able to improve when playing with better playmakers who can manufacture open looks for him. Young has the ability to be a prolific perimeter threat with the correct development. He won’t turn 19 until August and has one of the bigger upsides out of the draft’s second tier of prospects.
Weaknesses: Young is a bit of a one-trick pony, relying on that jump shot in lieu of being comfortable attacking the rim. He’s not a top-flight athlete, which limits him in terms of getting by his defender. He’ll have to put in work in that department and make improvements going to his right to keep defenders honest, which would help his shot selection by generating better looks. Young wasn’t a particularly active defender last year and those fundamentals have to improve, but that’s a teachable skill and he’s also one of the youngest guys in the draft. There’s some risk here. Whomever drafts Young will have to believe the game will eventually click for him. If it does, there’s a lot of value to be had. -- JW
5. P.J. Hairston (6-5, 229)
North Carolina, sophomore | Age: 21
2013-14 stats (Texas Legends, NBA D-League): 21.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 45.3 FG%, 35.8 3FG%
Strengths: After a strong sophomore season at North Carolina in which Hairston averaged a team-high 14.6 points and 4.3 rebounds, NCAA rules violations sidelined him from the college game for 2013-14. The offensive potential he demonstrated in college translated to the D-League. Hairston’s combination of size, strength and capacity to attack the basket make him a tough cover in the half-court, as he’s able to drive past defenders, fight through contact and finish in traffic. Hairston is also a solid shooter, with range out to the three-point line and the ability to get his shot off in a multitude of ways. He shot 35.8 percent from beyond the arc and 87 percent from the free throw line last season.
Weaknesses: NBA personnel will have questions about Hairston’s off-the-court issues at North Carolina. Though he has the size, strength and wingspan (6-9) to be an effective defender, his effort on that end of the floor is not consistent. Hairston needs to improve his decision making and ability to set up others for scores, as he assisted on only 3.9 percent of his team’s baskets while he was on the floor last season. And while Hairston has demonstrated the ability to create off the dribble, he’s probably best served operating primarily as a shooter. -- CJ
6. C.J. Wilcox (6-5, 195)
Washington, senior | Age: 23
2013-14: 18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 45.3 FG%, 39.1 3FG%
Strengths: Wilcox is to this year’s draft what Tim Hardaway Jr. was to last year’s: a knockdown shooter who can fill a role. The Pac-12 product can make shots with his feet set, pulling up or coming off screens, and he showed very well at the combine. He’s an above-average athlete with good size for his position and a 6-8 wingspan. Wilcox knows who he is as a player, and though he’s already 23, that maturity helps his cause for an established team looking to add a long-distance threat.
Weaknesses: He’s not great creating shots off the dribble or getting into the paint and finishing. Teams know what they’re getting here -- Wilcox may not become anything more than a floor spacer and a role player. His age is a detriment to his upside, and his best fit lies with a playoff team that has a plan to maximize his use. Wilcox could be a useful rotation cog, but what you see is pretty much what you get. -- JW
7. Jordan Adams (6-5, 209)
UCLA, sophomore | Age: 19
2013-14 stats: 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.6 steals, 48.5 FG%, 35.6 3FG%
Strengths: Adams initially said he would return to UCLA after his sophomore season, but then reversed course and declared for the draft. He is a skilled scorer who has a variety of means for getting off shots and a good understanding of how to exploit defenders’ weaknesses. His vast repertoire includes pulling up for jumpers, spotting up in transition and posting up. Among teammates who used at least 16 percent of UCLA’s possessions last season, Adams posted the highest offensive rating (121.5). With his long wingspan (6-10), Adams is proficient at slapping the ball away; he ranked in the top 10 nationally in steal percentage (5.0).
Weaknesses: Adams helped himself by showing up to last month’s combine 22 pounds lighter than his playing weight at UCLA. Still, average athleticism and explosiveness and a need for better conditioning are concerns. Can Adams find ways to get good shots off against more athletic NBA defenders? Though Adams was proficient at recording steals, he is by no means an elite one-on-one defender, as his lack of lateral quickness makes him vulnerable to getting beat off the dribble. -- CJ
8. Nick Johnson (6-3, 198)
Arizona, junior | Age: 21
2013-14 stats: 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 43.2 FG%, 36.7 3FG%
Strengths: Over three years at Arizona, Johnson developed into one of the top players in the Pac-12 thanks in large part to his elite athleticism. Whether blocking shots, dunking or locking down scorers on the perimeter, Johnson used his quickness and agility to great effect. Johnson acclimated himself well as the Wildcats’ primary offensive option last season, scoring efficiently while using 25 percent of his team’s possessions (and shooting a respectable 36.7 percent from three-point range). He should have no issues transitioning into a more limited role in the NBA. Johnson is also an elite perimeter defender; his lateral quickness allows him to stay in front of opposing ball handlers.
Weaknesses: It’s hard to identify a position for Johnson, as he’s a bit undersized for a two-guard. Johnson also struggled at times to create his own shot, scoring just 0.68 points per possession on isolation play types (in an admittedly small sample of 44 possessions). Johnson is effective scoring in transition (he scored 1.23 PPP on such play types) or in spot-up situations (1.01), but how successful he can be attacking the basket off the dribble is an open question. -- CJ
9. Spencer Dinwiddie (6-6, 205)
Colorado, junior | Age: 21
2013-14 stats: 14.7 points, 3.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 46.6 FG%, 41.3 3FG%
Strengths: Dinwiddie looked set to turn in his best college season yet, but a knee injury suffered in January limited him to only 17 games. When he played Dinwiddie excelled as Colorado’s do-everything guard. He has excellent size for a guard, can sink three-point shots (41.3 percent) and possesses a good understanding of how to break down defenses off the dribble, if not the top-notch quickness and explosiveness to always pull it off. Dinwiddie is also an adequate defender, with the versatility to match up on a range of opponents.
Weaknesses: While Dinwiddie’s height gives him an advantage over many other backcourt prospects, his lack of bulk can be a disadvantage, particularly when trying to contain opposing ball handlers or fight through contact on the way to the basket. There are also questions as to whether Dinwiddie has the skill set to be a point guard, and uncertainty about how he’ll acquit himself after recovering from a major knee surgery could lower his stock. Dinwiddie’s lack of elite athleticism is another concern. -- CJ
10. Bogdan Bogdanovic (6-6, 200)
Partizan NIS Belgrade (Serbia) | Country: Serbia
2013-14 (Adriatic League): 14.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.6 steals, 40.1 FG%, 34 3FG%
Strengths: Bogdanovic, who withdrew from last year's draft, enjoyed a breakout season with Partizan, winning the Euroleague Rising Star award for best young performer. He also possesses a great name and is not to be confused with 2011 draftee Bojan Bogdanovic (no relation). At 6-6, Bogdanovic can play either guard spot, score in a variety of ways and facilitate offense when needed. He projects as a capable defender, active in the passing lanes with a 6-11 wingspan.
Weaknesses: Bogdanovic isn't an outstanding athlete and can be turnover-prone. He’s not really an elite scorer or playmaker, and doesn’t possess one NBA-quality skill he can sell right now. It may be a while before we see him over here, as there’s talk of Bodganovic transferring to a different European team (with a potentially heftier buyout clause) next season, which would seem to delay any arrival in the states. -- JW
Just missed the cut ...
Thanasis Antetokounmpo (6-6, 205)
Delaware 87ers (D-League), Country: Greece | Age: 21
2013-14: 12 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.3 blocks, 46.9 FG%
Strengths: Thanasis doesn't have the same freakish upside and talent that earned his younger brother Giannis a first-round selection by Milwaukee last year, but Antetokounmpo showed himself to be a worthy NBA prospect in his own right. One of the best athletes in the D-League, he’s a solid defender with an NBA frame, length and quickness. A tenacious on-court attitude helps his cause, and he projects optimistically as a useful defender. On the other side of the ball, Thanasis can play above the rim and made strides with the 87ers. He has the potential to develop offensively in time.
Weaknesses: Antetokounmpo is still very raw, and it will take a ton of skill development to become an impact player on offense. He can’t really shoot or finish consistently yet and has to learn to take care of the ball better as he grasps the game. He has a very long way to go, and even if drafted there's a chance his team keeps him in the D-League for a while. -- JW
Joe Harris (6-6, 215)
Virginia, senior | Age: 22
2013-14: 12 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 44.1 FG%, 40 3FG%
Strengths: A pure shooter, Harris put his stroke on full display at the combine. He likes to run off screens and find shots off the catch, and shot 40 percent or better from beyond the arc in three of his four seasons at Virginia. He’s skilled enough to create in those catch situations, either taking a dribble to the hole or finding a teammate for a better shot. UVA's Tony Bennett coaches the fundamentals well, and Harris has a good understanding on both sides of the ball.
Weaknesses: Athletically, his measurements and drill results don’t hold up at the next level. Harris will have to find ways to ensure he gets space and time to hoist clean looks. He’s a defensive liability right now and leaves you at a big disadvantage, with difficulty sticking to his man that will be even more glaring in the NBA. Even if he becomes a decent team defender, it may not be enough to keep him on the floor. If selected, Harris will have to prove himself to stick on a roster. -- JW
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