2012 NBA Draft: Ranking The Shooting Guards
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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Now that we are just a few weeks away from the 2012 NBA Draft, it’s time to pick back up our positional rankings. As we did with the point guards, we’ll breakdown the top five in depth and give you notes on the rest of the class. There is a lot of talent at the shooting guard position. At least five will go in the first round, but many more could end up finding a home in the league even if they don’t hear their names called in the top 30.
The Top Five
Brad Beal (Florida, Fr.) – 6’4, 201 lbs.
At this point in the process it would be pretty surprising to see any two guard other than Beal selected first. He could go anywhere from 2-7 depending on the direction teams decide to go in.
Beal really separated himself from the pack during the NCAA tournament where his complete skill set was on full display for everyone to see. Despite playing in a crowded backcourt, Beal found ways to contribute all year long. His ability to help a team without scoring is what makes him such a promising prospect. Beal can help with his rebounding, passing and defense just as much as he can scoring. He’s not ball dominant or a volume shooter.
Beal’s bread and butter in the league will likely be his jump shot. Although he struggled shooting the three at times as a freshman, he has a flawless stroke. If he falls into the Cleveland Cavaliers’ laps at four, they’ll be jumping for joy.
Jeremy Lamb (UConn, So.) – 6’5, 185 lbs.
Had the Huskies lived up to expectations Lamb would probably be a lock to go in the top five because there’s a whole lot to like about his game. Lamb’s a natural scorer who can fill it up in a variety of ways. He’s long, explosive and a very capable shooter. His handles have improved, making him just as much of a threat to drive and finish as he is to hit a jumper.
The major concern that has held Lamb down the most is his motor. The belief is that he doesn’t maintain the same effort level all the time and that he may be a little bit too laid back. The right coaching and situation can change that, though, and if it does Lamb could be a star.
It’s hard to envision a scenario where Lamb falls past the Portland Trail Blazers at 11. With him on one wing and Nicolas Batum on the other they’d be set for a long time.
Austin Rivers (Duke, Fr.) – 6’4, 203 lbs.
NBA scouts and general managers are torn on Rivers. Some think his ball handling skills and shooting ability are great enough to make him a future starter, while others question if he’ll ever be more than just a solid reserve.
Up to this point Rivers has been able to get by having an advanced game for his age and being quite explosive offensively. That’s not going to be the case now that he’s about to be playing against the best players in the world.
Rivers is going to have to diversify his game, make sure that he can contribute when he isn’t scoring and hold his own defensively. Some of the league’s best players are at the shooting guard spot and if Rivers can’t guard them he’s going to have a hard time ever becoming a starter. His work ethic and background help build confidence that he’ll be able to do so, but he’s going to have to make some serious adjustments.
Dion Waiters (Syracuse, So.) – 6’4, 210 lbs.
There are few names in the draft right now hotter than Waiters’. Billed as a late first round pick on the outset, Waiters is now projected to go in the top 10 by some prominent draft analysts. While that may be a bit high, there’s no denying that Waiters has helped himself with the way he’s been performing in workouts.
This year’s Orange team was built around unselfishness and being able to attack from every position. While that was the best for the team, it somewhat limited Waiters. Now that he’s showing just how athletic and skilled he is, it’s clear he’s better than a late first round pick.
Waiters very well could end up being a lottery pick as long as he sells teams on his individual defense. That’s where teams have the most questions about him since he played nothing but zone at Syracuse.
Terrence Ross (Washington, So.) – 6’7, 197 lbs.
Despite it being a disappointing season for the Huskies, Ross did everything he needed to establish himself as one of the top five players at his position in this draft class. As a freshman, he exhibited an intriguing set of physical tools that put him on the radar. This past season he put them all together in a featured role.
Ross comes into the league with a reliable jump shot all the way out to the NBA three point line. His ball handling skills need some polish, but by no means are they a major weakness.
Due to his size there are a lot of people who believe he’ll eventually be able to play small forward too once he adds some strength. Ross’ camps expect him to be selected in the lottery. If he isn’t, he won’t slip past the Minnesota Timberwolves at 18.
Rest of the Field
Will Barton (Memphis, So.) – 6’6, 175 lbs.: A versatile scorer who finds ways to score within the offense. Really difficult to contain in transition. Has length that gives opponents fits defensively. Could very easily end up being one of the best two guards in the class.
Orlando Johnson (UC-Santa Barbara, Sr.) – 6’5, 205 lbs.: A potent scorer who is a threat regardless of where he is on the floor. Unproven against elite-level talent, but clearly a NBA-quality player.
John Jenkins (Vanderbilt, Jr.) – 6’4, 215 lbs.: Almost unanimously regarded as the best shooter in the class. Possesses a quick release on his jump shot and deep range. Will be selected because of that alone. The more he brings to the table, the more he’ll play.
Doron Lamb (Kentucky, So.) – 6’4, 170 lbs.: A knockdown shooter with an underrated all-around game. Still young with plenty of room to improve. Should be able to provide instant offense immediately much like he did in college.
Jared Cunningham (Oregon State, Jr.) – 6’4, 194 lbs.: Fast and athletic with good scoring instincts. Plays the passing lanes well defensively. Will have to adjust to not being number one option.
Kevin Murphy (Tennessee Tech, Sr.) – 6’6, 215 lbs.: A rising prospect who is rapidly climbing up draft boards. Can shoot it from all over. Has shown some intriguing flashes defensively, albeit against mid-major competition.
Tomas Satoransky (Sevilla) – 6’7, 210 lbs.: Long and athletic with experience playing both guard positions. Has a high basketball IQ, but needs to extend range on jump shot.
Darius Johnson Odom (Marquette, Sr.) – 6’2, 215 lbs.: Seriously undersized without point guard skills, but a fierce competitor who plays much bigger than his listed height. Just finds ways to make winning plays.
William Buford (Ohio State, Sr.) – 6’5, 185 lbs.: Experienced and well-rounded. Has the make of a prototypical shooting guard. Can guard multiple positions and do a lot of different things offensively.
Kim English (Missouri, Sr.) – 6’6, 200 lbs.: Played out of position in college and looking much more comfortable now at his natural spot. Unselfish and willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. An efficient, reliable shooter.
Marcus Denmon (Missouri, Sr.) – 6’3, 185 lbs.: A scorer with a reliable jump shot. Competes hard. Defended multiple positions in college, but is slightly undersize at the NBA level.
Charlie Westbrook (South Dakota State, Sr.) – 6’4, 196 lbs.: One of the standouts from the Portsmouth Invitational. A tremendous athlete with good scoring ability and improving ball handling skills.
Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion, Sr.) – 6’5, 195 lbs.: A dedicated defender who takes pride in getting stopped. An improving shooter. Understands his strengths and plays to them.
Faisal Aden (Washington State, Sr.) – 6’4, 185 lbs.: An extremely talented scorer who was working his way onto the radar before tearing his ACL midseason. Currently rehabbing and will be back in action before the start of training camp.