This article was taken from The Dazzler – an online publication to help assist those who play Strat-O-Matic Basketball – where you will find other articles on both the computer and board game. If you enjoy this article by Aaron, you can find other material written by him on The Dazzler. http://www.somhoops.com/dazzler/
Rookie Point Guards
By Aaron Lewis
The rookie class this year features many great point guards. It is possible and maybe even likely, that the first four rookies taken in most league drafts will be point guards. Even after those top four, there are still many good point guard options available. In this article, I will take a look at ten point guards that likely will be taken within the first thirty picks of most rookie drafts. I did not include James Harden, a clear cut shooting guard who will likely be able to play the point, and Rodrigue Beaubois who played limited minutes.
The focus is to compare and rank the rookies based on their per 36 minutes stats in several different categories. Since we are talking about point guards here, of particular importance is their assists and turnovers and how it might translate to their Strat pass ratings. As such, every player is evaluated on his passing and given a prediction on what their passing ratings might be. Please note, these are just predictions and certainly can vary to a certain degree once the season cards are released with the actual ratings. I also will look at some other pertinent stats and how they might reflect their upcoming Strat cards, both good and bad. Finally, I will include some general outlook comments for each player going forward, although they are just the opinion of one man and certainly could end up as hit and miss. With that all said, let’s take a look at the players.
#1 – TYREKE EVANS
Passing – 3-20 Open Position Shot in the halfcourt & 6-20 FB Shot on the break. Not really what you want as your primary point guard but very usable at the off guard spot which Evans will likely be rated two or more minutes. Not completely unusable at point guard for small stretches when paired with good fast break finishers.
The Good – 6.3 free throw attempts per 36 minutes & 5.1 rebounds per 36. Both categories top the rookie point guard lists. Evans is excellent driving to the basket and should continue to draw fouls throughout his career which should always help his shooting columns. He is also a monster on the boards for a point guard. While not quite at vintage Jason Kidd levels, Evans will probably have a computer defensive rebound rating close to 60 which will give you a rebounding leg up on your competition.
The Bad – 0.5 three point attempts per 36 minutes and 25.5% three point field goal percentage, both ninth out of the then point guards. Evans does not have three point range yet but still has time to develop it. He should have enough replays though on his three point column that you cannot sag off of him. However, the occasional forced threes he will take or computer three point attempts by HAL will detract from his otherwise good scoring ability.
Outlook – Evans is as close to a “can’t miss” as there is. He is a physical specimen that has shown the ability to score and rebound at a high NBA level. He also has the advantage of being, without question, “THE Guy” on Sacramento so the assists should always have good assist numbers just as a result of handling the ball so much. He might get the added bonus of lineup flexibility in some years being rated as both a point guard and shooting guard.
#2 – STEPHEN CURRY
Passing – 2 Dazzler, 3-20 Open Position Shot in the halfcourt & 6-8 Dazzler, 9-20 FB Shot on the break. Curry is a very good passer for a player who spent as much time at shooting guard as point guard, and there is also a small chance he is rated as a small forward. Like Evans, his passing is not ideal if you plan to use Curry as a primary point guard but he is serviceable. He is very nice as a left guard and right forward if he can play there.
The Good –Total shot percentage of 56.8% (2), 4.4 rebounds per 36 (2), and 1.9 steals per 36 (2). No surprise here, Stephen Curry can shoot the ball! His 43.7 % three point shooting leads all rookie point guards and his 47% on two point shots is serviceable as well. But Curry was also very well rounded as he is second in rebounding behind Evans and is great at stealing the ball which should result in extra fastbreak baskets for him.
The Bad – There are none really. Curry is remarkably well rounded. His 3.0 turnovers per 36 is a little high, but some of that is a reflection of being in Nelson high paced system.
Outlook – Curry’s stat production suggests star! I just wonder in the near future who will be handling the ball more for Golden State, Monte Ellis or Curry. I think it is a given that Curry will have the shooting, but he will need to handle the ball more to get his assist totals at the level that would translate to significant dazzlers on a fast break team.
#3 – BRANDON JENNINGS
Passing – 2-4 Dazzler in the halfcourt & 7-16 Dazzler on the break. Despite having the big “50 point” game, Jennings was not really a shoot first point guard. He actually did a great job distributing the ball, although for some reason, his assist numbers dropped over the second half of the season. His passing is useable as a primary point guard but not great. He would be good at left guard but not sure if he will get rated more than one minute there.
The Good – played 82 games on a playoff team & 37.1% three point shooting. While more of an intangible than a stat, the fact that Jennings played 82 games as a starting point guard on a playoff team cannot be overlooked. He showed that he could run a team well and thrive for a defensive minded coach, all at the age of 20. His three point shooting is at least decent.
The Bad –Total shot percentage of 47.5% & 36.6% two point shooting percentage. Jennings was unfortunately epically bad as a point guard shooter this year, posting sub Baron Davis shot percentages, which is very hard to do. In addition, he might be a rated shooter (probably about a 50-50 chance) which would kill has value this year. Be prepared for some ugly shot columns, most likely in the range of 13-15 chances out of 36.
Outlook – Despite his shooting woes this year, Jennings appears to have a ton of potential. He showed flashes of being an excellent distributor and could play some defense. It will be interesting to see what kind of defensive rating he will get as he played for one of the top ranked defenses. I expect no worse than a 2-5, 11 on penetration and maybe even a 2-4. If he could fix some of his shooting problems, he could be truly special and even if he continues to struggle there and turns into Baron Davis, that is not so bad either.
#4 – DARREN COLLISON
Passing – 3-14 Dazzler in the halfcourt & 9-20 Dazzler on the break. Obviously, passing is his strong area. Definitely, useable as a feature point guard although turnovers are a little high. It would seem that Collison is destined for dazzlers throughout his career.
The Good – 7.4 assists per 36 & 48.7% on two point field goals. Collison was second out of the ten rookie point guards in his assist rate. His game suggests someone that will control the ball throughout his career, his assists likely will rise. Collison had the second highest field goal percentage and should result in a nice fastbreak shooting column. Like his passing, I imagine this will be steady throughout his career. Good fast passing plus good fast break passing equals a good point guard.
The Bad – 3.4 turnovers per 36 & 3.3 total rebounds per 36. The turnovers are not that bad for a guy that handles the ball a lot. Guys that get a ton of assists also often get a ton of turnovers (i.e. Steve Nash). Still there is room for improvement here. You really do not want your starting point guard turning it over so much on the fastbreak. His rebounding is also poor, the second worst out of the ten point guards. With his slight build, it probably will not get better either. But since your point guard is not out there to rebound, it is a small knock against Collison, but it is a disadvantage that Evans and Curry will have over him.
Outlook – The recent trade to the Indiana Pacers certainly is a positive move for Collison. He will now be the feature point guard and will likely play in a more up tempo system which not only help his stats but probably change how his passing is carded in Strat. It should cut down on the turnovers on his fast break passing. While he maybe is not quite as versatile as the three players above him, if you want your point guard to pass great and finish on the break, Collison is your guy.
#5 – JRUE HOLIDAY
Passing – 4 Dazzler, 5-20 Open Position Shot in the halfcourt & 8-16 Dazzler on the break. Holiday’s passing is not great and he gets some dazzlers primarily as a result of Philadelphia likely being a half court team. He also has some turnover issues. His current passing projection is not a huge deal as you probably are not drafting Holiday to be an immediate contributor this year anyway.
The Good – 10.6 FGA per 36 & 39.0% three point shooting. His field goal attempts actually rank second to last out of the 10 point guard. So you may ask why is that a good? While not the most accurate shooter, Holiday seems to be in the mold of a passing first and shoot second point guard who is certainly useful in Strat leagues. If he must shoot, his 39% from three point land is above the league average.
The Bad – 1.75 FTA per 36 minutes & 45.9% two point shooting. Holliday did not show the ability to fully finish at the rim or draw fouls in his first year. He did improve immensely as the season went on.
Outlook – It is tough to evaluate Holliday’s rookie year based on a full season of stats because no player improved more towards the end of the season than Holliday. Once given increased minutes, his per minute stats shot way up. The strong finish to last year coupled with him entering his second season as the Sixers starting point guard, points to a possible breakout season.
#6 – JONNY FLYNN
Passing – 4-17 Open Position Shot in the halfcourt & 7-20 FB Shot on the break. His passing is just terrible for a point guard and Flynn likely will not qualify as a shooting guard in most leagues. He never did quite figure out the system in Minnesota but more importantly the triangle offense the team attempted to run under Coach Kurt Rambis leads to passing stats like this for starting point guards.
The Good – 4.2 FTA per 36. It is hard to find any good stats for Flynn but he was second in free throws attempts and has shown the ability to get to the basket.
The Bad – 3.6 turnovers per 36 minutes & 2.9 rebounds per 36. Considering he played in a system where the starting point guard is not known to dominate the ball, it is shocking that Flynn led all rookie point guards in turnovers per 36. He also provides no help on the glass, again ranking last out of all rookies in rebounding.
Outlook – No rookie point guard disappointed as much as Flynn. Conversely, that gives him the best chance this season for marked improvement. On the plus side, he is still going into his second season as the Timberwolves starting point guard, so he will get his chance. He has shown flashes of ability to score and working in a new offensive system should only help him. Deron Williams had a sub par rookie season before turning it around his second. Will Flynn have a similar breakout season to D.William? I doubt it , but he has to get better.
#7 – TY LAWSON
Passing – 1-19 Open Position Shot in the halfcourt & 5-20 FB Shot on the break. Decent enough for a fast break team. No or minimal dazzlers hurt but he does not turn the ball over.
The Good –60% total shooting. Lawson’s total shot percentage led all the point guards. While he didn’t shoot it often, when he did, Lawson was deadly accurate both on threes and twos. He should have a great fastbreak shooting column, great three point chances and a card with very few misses (due to replays and makes).
The Bad – There are none really. Lawson was remarkably solid. He passed ok with very few turnovers, shot well, and even hit the boards ok for his position.
Outlook – Lawson’s immediate potential is somewhat limited by being the backup to Chauncey Billups, but Billups is certainly up there in age. Unlike Collison, who even before his recent trade seemed destined to be a 36 minute a night point guard, it does not seem a 100% certain that Lawson will take on that role at some point. Lawson is useful for a Strat team right now and depending on minutes played should only get better.
#8 – ERIC MAYNOR
Passing – 1-9 Dazzler in the halfcourt & 7-20 Dazzler on the break. Maynor is a great passer. I imagine in most every league, coaches will play him his full 15 minutes a game in order to use his passing.
The Good – His high assist totals and low turnover rate is what makes him useful now and a good prospect.
The Bad –49.2% total shooting & 1.1 steals per 36. Maynor shot poorly his rookie year, he was bad on threes, on twos and never got to the line. The good news is that he rarely shoots where he has less FGA per 36 than any other point guard. A card with a decent amount of replays will be useable. He also had the lowest steal rate of all point guards. It is not going to kill his card but you think someone as quick as Maynor is, he would log more steals.
Outlook – Maynor can pass but you have to worry about his minutes in OKC backing up Westbrook. Not only this, but fellow rookie James Harden can also play a little at the point as well. I don’t see Maynor’s minutes going up next season barring injury.
#9 – JEFF TEAGUE
Passing – 1-2 Dazzler in the halfcourt & 7-15 Dazzler on the break. His passing is not bad. For the ten minutes a game he can play, you could deal with his point guard passing in bigger leagues.
The Good – 1.7 steals per 36. Teague is aggressive on defense and was second only to Curry in steal rate.
The Bad – 45.9% total shooting & 4.1 fouls per 36. Like Jennings and Maynor, Teague shot very poorly. His aggressive defense also helped contribute to him leading all rookies in foul rate.
Outlook – Teague backs up an established point guard in Mike Bibby on a playoff team. As such, he was not given the end of the year opportunity to show what he could do like some of the other point guards. This year might be similar.
#10 – TONEY DOUGLAS
Passing – 1-2 Open Position Shot in the halfcourt & 3-18 FB Shot on the break. Despite the absence of turnovers, you probably do not want Douglas running your offense, except for the occasional 6 minute stretches when he is surrounded by decent fast break finishers. Still, Douglas should get rated multiple minutes at left guard and his passing is good there.
The Good – 57.1% total shooting. His shooting percentage is second out of all the point guards. Douglas shoots a lot of threes and makes a lot of them. In addition, while he doesn’t draw fouls, his 50% field goal percentage on twos is good as well. On a running team like the Knicks, look for a good fast break shooting column, good three point ratings and OK elsewhere.
The Bad – 3.7 assists per 36 minutes & 3.8 fouls per 36. While already covered in the passing section, it should be mentioned again that Douglas’ assist rate is nowhere near an acceptable level for a point guard. He also fouls a lot.
Outlook – I actually think some team in a league will get very good use out of Douglas for 10- 15 minutes a game, but at shooting guard instead of the point. Douglas is as much a point guard as Eddie House is, and I also wonder if this first season may be the best one he ever has.