Siegel's Take: 2008 Shooting Guard Analysis

May 14th, 2008
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This is the second of five Siegel's Take articles analyzing the 2008 NBA Draft prospects. Today's focus is the somewhat weak crop of shooting guards.

As I say every year, its important to note that I'm not as kind as most Draft analysts out there. The reality of the NBA Draft is that only a few guys will be stars, a handful more will be starters, a dozen guys will be career reserves, and the rest will all fizzle into nothingness within a couple of seasons.

On with the fun. Players are ranked by their NBA potential:

Eric Gordon - Indiana - Because I put OJ Mayo in the PG article, Gordon is the clear #1 prospect at the shooting guard position. Back in November and December, he was arguably the top player in college basketball.. stroking threes with ease, taking the ball to the rim and finishing (or getting fouled and knocking down the FT's), causing problems on D with his solid 6'4" frame, and helping the Hoosiers win. But then a lower back injury, a more damning wrist injury, and the demise of Kelvin Sampson, led to an absolutely putrid finish. In March, he took on the rep as a ball-stopper who took bad shots and made poor decisions. I think the first half Gordon is the real one, and that he is now an underrated prospect. Defensively, he'll never be anything more than adequate, but there's always a need for true scoring guards in the NBA.

Chris Douglas-Roberts - Memphis - Like Gordon above, CDR is probably a better talent then people realize. While Rose got all the credit and hype, it was CDR who continually and consistently did the grunt work in the half-court offense and made things happen. With a shockingly good 54 FG%, he was the most efficient guard in the country.. and his 18 PPG is based on under 30 MPG, and almost a dozen blow out games where Memphis barely played its top guns. The negatives are of course the age, the awkward release, questionable decision making.. and though he has good size at 6'7".. he's not the strongest nor quickest guy out there. A lot of the mid-to-late first round picks seem destined to mediocrity, but the ever-improving Douglas-Roberts could be a steal.

Brandon Rush - Kansas - I've long been a fan of Rush.. gushing over his natural skills since he was a raw prep talent. He's pretty similar to the player he was his freshman season, which isn't the worst thing.. but you would have liked to have seen more improvement. In fact, it wasn't until the stretch run of the Big 12 season and the Big Dance that he finally showed the assertiveness scouts have been waiting years for. Still, wait you is see is what you get from Rush.. a smooth, efficient jumper, calm demeanor, and quality defense on opposing twos or threes. I used to think Rush would be a star, but it doesn't look like he can transcend the pro mediocrity of the other Rush brothers.

Wayne Ellington - UNC - People tend to have pretty wide-ranging opinions of Ellington. Some feel he's a Top 15-20 prospect.. while others think he's barely one of the Top 10 shooting guards in the draft. Part of the problem is that he came in with such high expectations, that he seems worse than he really is. Realistically, he's a career NBA reserve.. who will get by thanks to a good-looking stroke and decent athleticism. Despite the nice shot, his %'s were never exceptional in college, and he lacks the ability to create shots for himself (and others). Defensively, he lacks height (which will also hinder his ability to get off shots in the NBA) and the speed to guard starting 2-guards. Ellington should go back to school, but the SG crop is so weak.. that he might sneak into 20-25 pick range.

Shan Foster - Vanderbilt - I want to love Foster.. he's a rare 4-year college player and this is, after all, a college basketball site. But yet he projects to be nothing more than a fringe pro. He's got good height, and the high release on his three should enable him to get off shots with relative ease. But outside of the three ball, what else does he really offer? Not much.

6) JR Giddens - New Mexico - The drop between Ellington and Giddens is pretty substantial, as everyone from here down never projects to be more than a bit player in the league. Despite being ancient in Draft terms (23), Giddens still has to be given consideration cause he's such a good athlete. But though he runs and jumps like a pro, his offensive game is rather limited. Basically, he'll only fit into a team that simply needs a guy to run the floor and occasionally throw a jam down..

7) Sonny Weems - Arkansas - Before Weems played college ball, I really thought he'd come in and score 20 a game with ease. In fact, he's similar to Giddens in some sense, in that he's been blessed with an NBA body since high school. But neither is terribly skilled. Weems is probably a slightly better offensive player than JR, but also slightly less freakishly athletic. He's certainly worth a flier in the 2nd round, but he'll have to fight to stick in the pros.

8) Courtney Lee - Western Kentucky - Lee has his fans, especially it seems on other Draft sites. But realistically, his ceiling is to be a 9th man off the bench. He's more skilled and mature than Giddens or Weems, but doesn't have quite the wow athleticism. Once you get into the 2nd round, there's no reason not to make risky picks which is why I think the above guys should go higher (though they might not). The best thing about Lee is that by being the best player on a quality mid-major team, he's learned how to be the "man." This is a skill that most prospects (who leave school too early) never develop.

9) Richard Roby - Colorado - Remember when Roby was a potential Top 20 pick? Those days seem long gone. He became a victim to high expectations, and a lack of surrounding talent that allowed defenses to lock him down. (Poor coaching didn't help the cause either). Despite the roller coaster career, Roby is still somewhat of an interesting prospect. He's got good length, size, strength, a nice stroke, and a humbled attitude.

10) DeMarcus Nelson - Duke - Up until the final few weeks of the year, Nelson was his team's most consistent, efficient and best player. Still, its always surprised me that he was never able to develop a consistent 40%+ three point shot. More troubling is that Nelson's big advantage in college was that he was a strong, relatively tough kid, who played bigger than his size suggests. This enabled him to grab boards and finish well on the inside. This former plus will be neutralized in the pros, relegating him to a life in the minors.

Summary: For some reason, there haven't been true shooting guards to come along for a couple years. Gordon, despite the horrible end to his freshman season, can be the scoring star that bucks this trend. After him though, there's not a single guaranteed NBA-level starter in the mix. While CDR could be the most underrated talent in the Draft, even Rush and Ellington are nothing more than NBA role players. In fact, below Ellington.. the remaining players will be satisfied merely stitching together a couple of years with NBA contracts.

Last Year's Siegel's Take - SG Ranking

1) Brandon Rush (withdrew)
2) Corey Brewer
3) Marco Belinelli
4) Daequan Cook
5) Nick Young
6) Rudy Fernandez
7) Arron Afflalo
8) Rodney Stuckey
9) Morris Almond
10) DJ Strawberry