NBA Sunday: The Draft’s Best Point Guard?
The 2013 NBA Draft’s Best Point Guard?
In the race for the title of best point guard in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft, it’s clear that three players have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum are the three clear-cut favorites at the point position following this year’s draft combine.
“I think so,” Carter-Williams said when asked if he should be the first point guard off the board. “I think Trey and C.J. are great point guards. I think that C.J. is more of an off-guard, he’s got a great jump shot, he’s a great scorer. I work out with C.J., me and him both in Long Island, we’re good friends, he’s a great player overall. With Trey, I think it’s more about preference. He’s a different kind of point guard than I am, we both do great things on the court.
“I think with my size and my upside, I think that I should be the first point guard taken.”
Carter-Williams didn’t stop there, alluding to the fact that he has the talent to be considered as the top player taken overall in the upcoming draft. The former Syracuse point guard singled out the Orlando Magic as having a need at the position and says he can bring more to the table than current point man Jameer Nelson.
“I think if Orlando gets the top pick, they have Jameer Nelson who is a smaller point guard and may take a point guard with their first pick,” Carter-Williams said. “I think my size and length separates me from him.”
The Syracuse sophomore averaged 11.9 points and 7.3 assists per game this past season for the Orange and scouts see his playmaking ability and defensive prowess as reasons he will be a early pick. However, Carter-Williams’ 39.3 shooting percentage this past year along with his slender frame are areas of concern for the 21-year-old.
“A lot of people say that I can’t shoot the ball, but that doesn’t really affect me because I believe in myself and I know that I can,” Carter-Williams said. “Also about my strength, I was really proud of myself when I got eight reps on the bench press, I was really happy about that. Hopefully that proves just a little bit that just because I am skinny, does not mean I’m not strong.
“[Shooting] has been something that I’ve been working on a lot, getting reps up and just getting more consistent. Shooting jump shots, mid-range shots, NBA threes, just everything.”
Although he sat out organized drills both days of the 2013 NBA Draft Combine, Carter-Williams participated in drills that measured jumping ability, speed and lateral quickness on Friday. Carter-Williams excelled in these measurements, ranking fifth in max vertical leap (41 inches) and ninth in both the lane agility drill (10.6 seconds) and the three-quarter court sprint (3.22 seconds). Fellow point guard Burke, who many consider to be the best at the point of this year’s draft class because of his speed and quickness, actually ran a slower time in the lane agility drill at 11.2 seconds.
Athleticism has never been an issue with Carter-Williams and he believes that, along with his lengthy frame, his strengths separate him from the pack at the point guard position.
“Definitely,” Carter-Williams said of his 6-foot-6 stature being an asset at the NBA level. “I think that me being a bigger guard helps me out a lot. I can defend well, cheat over the little guards and also being able to rebound well. I think that I can rebound the best out of all the guards.”
At just 21 years old, Carter-Williams believes he isn’t close to reaching his ceiling on the basketball floor. Carter-Williams says he’s a pass-first point guard that will excel at getting his teammates involved on the professional level.
“No, I don’t think so,” Carter-Williams said of if he’s already reached his full potential. “I had to play my role at Syracuse and I think I had a lot of freedom, but again I had to play my role, had to get a lot of people involved. I didn’t have too many play-makers on my team, I had guys who did other things great, but not too many play-makers and I had to be that play-maker. At the next level I think there are a lot of play-makers, so I’ll be able to play more of my game.”
It’s clear that Carter-Williams has no shortage of confidence and that determination is something that is evident in speaking with the young guard. Carter-Williams says he’s patterned his game after NBA champion Jason Kidd and hopes to evolve as that type of player as his career develops.
“Growing up I always modeled my game after Jason Kidd in his prime,” Carter-Williams said. “He was a great defender, I think I’m capable of being a great defender, he passed the ball really well. Of course our games are a little bit different, but having that foundation and he’s a winner and I like to win. Every team I’ve been on, we’ve gone pretty far and competed and won pretty much everything.”
Even though it’s not a lock that his name is called as the first point guard off of the draft board this summer, expect Carter-Williams to be taken as a lottery selection this June in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Sacramento Kings (projected 5th overall pick), New Orleans Pelicans (projected 6th), Dallas Mavericks (projected 13th) and Utah Jazz (projected 14th) could all be in the running to acquire Carter-Williams’ services.
Conference Finals Matchups Set
The Pacers will take on the Miami HEAT in Game 1 on Wednesday night in a rematch of last year’s Conference Semifinals. Indiana went up 2-1 in that series before losing three straight to the eventual NBA champion HEAT.
While the HEAT will likely be heavy favorites heading into the series, Indiana played Miami tough in three games over the 2012-13 regular season. This year, the Pacers won the season series 2-1 – including an 87-77 win on Jan. 8 in which Indy held Miami to its season-low point total.
Indiana has distinguished itself as one of the best teams in the East all season long despite missing last season’s leading scorer Danny Granger for the majority of the year. The HEAT have the advantage in the talent department over the Pacers with league-MVP LeBron James leading the way, but Indiana always plays Miami tough and won’t give an inch this series.
Expect the HEAT to face their biggest challenge yet this postseason but Miami has the talent, depth and experience needed to take down Indiana and move on to a third-straight NBA Finals appearance.
Prediction: HEAT in 6
For the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs wrapped up a second-consecutive trip to the Western Conference Finals with a 94-82 win over the Golden State Warriors this past Thursday. Rested since Wednesday and ready to travel to San Antonio for today’s game at 3:30 EST are the Memphis Grizzlies. This will be the first postseason meeting between the two teams since the Grizzlies ousted the number one seed Spurs in the first round of the 2011 playoffs.
In 2012-13, the two teams split the season series with each team taking care of business on their home floor. Both teams feature quality low-post players capable of pounding the opposition into submission in the paint to go along with some quality and efficient backcourt play.
The key matchup will be between Zach Randolph and Tim Duncan at the power forward position. Each player is lethal on the offensive end but also possess the defensive acumen to make each other work for every point they generate this series. Marc Gasol’s presence at center for the Grizzlies could be the difference as San Antonio doesn’t have a player to match Gasol’s ability on either end of the floor. Memphis will have the luxury of switching both Gasol and Randolph on Duncan defensively, helping the Grizzlies’ frontcourt to stay fresh while trying to tire out the 37-year-old Duncan.
San Antonio is a fast-paced team that likes to get out and score points in bunches, while Memphis prefers the uglier, slow-it-down pace that has led them to a Western Conference Finals berth. Expect Memphis to impose their will on the Spurs, setting the tone early in the series and to continue their franchise-best playoff run with the first NBA Finals appearance in team history.
Prediction: Grizzlies in 7
The NBA Draft combine has come and gone but the HOOPSWORLD team had it completely covered live on the ground, interviewing every player present at the event.
Catch all of the video interviews from yesterday’s collegiate stars and next year’s NBA rookie class.
You can find HOOPSWORLD’s draft combine coverage here.
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