Burlison on the NBA Draft: SGs

Scout.com's college basketball expert, Frank Burlison, looks at all the draftable shooting guards, what the latest opinion is of them from NBA sources, and who has the best shot at the first round, including UCLA's Arron Afflalo...

When the day was done – or, more accurately, when the clock struck 5 p.m., Eastern Time, on Monday – only one college underclassmen who would have impacted the first round on June 28 yanked his name out of the NBA Draft Early Entry pool.

 

And there will be no wondering why Cal Coach Ben Braun has a near-constant smile on the July evaluation circuit.

 

The return of 6-foot-10 DeVon Hardin for his senior season puts the Golden Bears right smack into the mix for an upper-division finish in the Pacific 10 Conference next season.

 

And you can imagine there will be numerous NBA employees checking out nearly every game that team plays next season, with eyes not only on Hardin but on 6-9 sophomore-to-be Ryan Anderson as well.

 

Hardin's absence from the 2007 Draft creates another opening in the first round – and he would have been selected in the late teens or early 20s – on June 28.

 

But any hopes some prospects (and their agents) had of moving into lottery (Top 14) land were dashed Monday when, as had long been anticipated, Jeff Green of Georgetown and Spencer Hawes of Washington decided to go shopping in earnest for Draft Night three-piece suits.

 

Anyway, I'll post my latest mock first round soon but for now I'll go into depth on the best of the shooting (two) guard prospects that will be available on Draft Night.

 

Those with the best shots at the first round:

Nick Young (*6-5, 206, Jr., USC)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: With Kevin Durant as the only clear exception, he's as effective a scorer as there is in the draft pool. His deep shooting has improved every season, with his mid-range game and ability to finish well above the rim nothing short of sensational. Think "a Paul Pierce-type" with even more bounce to his step than the Boston star.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Assertiveness, at times, only came in spurts as a Trojan. He had a slight tendency to float or stand when the ball wasn't in his hands or about to come into his possession.

FRANK SAYS: If he lands in the right situation, he'll be one of the five most productive rookies in the NBA next season.

WHERE HE GOES: Pick a number, any number . . . as long as it's 13 (New Orleans), 14 (L.A. Clippers) or 15 (Detroit Pistons).

 

Marco Belinelli (6-5, 205, 21, Italy)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: His offensive repertoire is comparable to Nick Young's, with deep range on his jumper (although his 3-point efficiency dropped to about 33 percent this past season), a more-than-adequate mid-range game and the ability to cram on defenders near the rim.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: The rap by some is that he tends to "settle" for deep jumpers and doesn't utilize his explosive driving ability nearly enough to score or set up teammates.

FRANK SAYS: The gap between Belinelli and Young is a lot closer than is the distance between the best (Mike Conley) and second best (Acie Law) point guard prospects in this draft.

WHERE HE GOES: More likely than not, in the 15 to 25 range.

 

Daequan Cook (*6-3 ¾, 203, Fr., Ohio State)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: He's got Nick Young-like power and explosiveness, as well as the ability to finish over defenders like the former USC standout. He's a more "catch-and-shoot it than knock-it-down-off-the dribble" jump shooter right now.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: His ball-handling/passing is better than some think but he still needs a lot of polish in that area.

FRANK SAYS: Despite struggling in his first two games, the bulk of the talent evaluators who were in Orlando for the Pre-Draft Camp believe he was far and away the best prospect who suited up for the games.

WHERE HE GOES: If he is still available (not likely), it's hard to imagine that the San Antonio Spurs would let him escape them at No. 28.

 

Rudy Fernandez (6-6, 175, 22, Spain)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: He's proven his ability to score against NBA-level defenders for many years. Like Belinelli, he's comfortable launching from deep or getting out on the break and finishing with gusto in transition. There are those who rate him above Young and Belinelli.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Like Belinelli, he can get too enamored with his jumper. And he needs to get considerable stronger to check NBA two guards.

FRANK SAYS: Why hasn't he gotten stronger? Late bloomer or he just doesn't put in the weight-room work?

WHERE HE GOES: Somewhere in the 25 to 30 range.

 

Derrick Byars (6-6, 220, Sr., Vanderbilt)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: Among the more versatile bigger perimeter players in the draft pool, with some scouts thinking he could just as easily be listed among the 3's (small forwards). Was the best player (yes, including the Florida guys) for much of the season in one of the best (SEC) conferences in the country last season.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER:  Is he quick enough to stay in front of the better two guards in the NBA?

FRANK SAYS: Gee . . . how many people talked about him as a potential first-round selection a year ago? There is something to be said for sticking things through a senior season, gentlemen.

WHERE HE GOES: He's definitely in the 25 to 30 mix.

 

Morris Almond (6-6, 215, Sr., Rice)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: He's an exceptional shooter and "scorer" without being a "volume" shooter. He can spot up in transition and can get himself open and deliver jumpers quickly and efficiently coming off screens.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Can he create well enough off the dribble?

FRANK SAYS: He's among the three or four most reliable jump shooters in the draft pool.

WHERE HE GOES: Some teams in the late teens will consider him but he's more likely in the 20+ range.

 

Brad Newley (*6-5 ½, 201, 22, Australia)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: He shoots with deep range and (like Almond and Young), doesn't seem to be bothered by defenders' hands in his face. He's better off the dribble than many realize.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: How much has he improved from a year ago, when he withdrew from the draft pool?

FRANK SAYS: He and Arron Afflalo could be contending for the final spot in the first round for a player at this position.

WHERE HE GOES: Late first round or more likely among first 10 choices of the second round.

 

Arron Afflalo (6-4, 215, Jr., UCLA)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: Improved every season with the Bruins and was the Pac-10's Player of the Year as a junior, when he helped Ben Howland's team to a second consecutive Final Four. There wasn't a tougher or more determined player at both ends of the floor in the college game last season.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Why hasn't he become a more consistently effective long-range jump shooter? Can be he just as dependable a man-to-man defender on the NBA level as he was  in college?

FRANK SAYS: The rap in some quarters is that he is, at best, an "average" NBA athlete (in terms of quickness and vertical explosiveness). If someone thinks otherwise, he could get into the first round.

WHERE HE GOES: Somewhere in the 25 to 40 range.

 

Trey Johnson (6-3 ¾, 216, Sr., Jackson State)

WHAT'S TO LIKE: He's an instinctive scorer and had no problems putting up big numbers vs. the better teams (he averaged 32 points per game against Alabama, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Memphis) he faced last season.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: He had pretty much cart blanche at Jackson State and took a lot of questionable shots, resulting in 41 (overall) and 33 (on 3's) shooting percentages. And he averaged more turnovers than assists (3.6 to 2.6).

FRANK SAYS: Nit-picking aside, he'll land on an NBA roster eventually, although it might take a season on the Development League level to get him there.

WHERE HE GOES: Early to mid second round.

 

OTHERS WHO COULD BE DRAFTED (most likely in the mid-to-late second round): Adam Haluska (6-5, 210, Sr., Iowa); D.J. Strawberry (6-3 3/4, 199, Sr., Maryland); Nate Funk (6-3, 190, Sr., Creighton); Coby Karl (*6-3 ½, 205, Sr., Boise State); Russell Carter (*6-3, 221, Sr., Notre Dame); Marko Thomas (6-8, 220, 22, Croatia).

 

*Height, without shoes, and weight at Pre-Draft Camp; others are estimated or what was listed on college rosters.



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com


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