Now that David Kahn and the Timberwolves have acquired the No. 5 pick and could possibly move up to select Rubio (and if that didn't occur there is still the possibility that Sam Presti takes the Spaniard at No. 3), Tyreke Evans and Jonny Flynn appear to be the most likely candidates for the No. 4 selection by Sacramento. Stephen Curry finally worked out for the Kings on Sunday but most reports seem to indicate that both he and Jrue Holiday remain behind Evans and Flynn on Geoff Petrie's Draft Board (which is about as possible to decipher as the ultimate outcome of LOST). Following these assumptions, and not being ignorant to those remaining in the "Rubio camp" (of which I think I'm still a member), who do you prefer - Evans or Flynn? As for me, after Rubio, I would like to see Jonny Flynn become a King. Here are some reasons why...
I have been pretty high on Flynn since his "coming-out" party in the Big East tournament last March. Back then it wasn't even certain Flynn would stay in this years draft as he was likely a late-1st round pick. Then I compared him to Aaron Brooks, which still seems to be a solid general comparison. Since then however, and particulary following the pre-draft measurements recorded in Chicago, there have been comparisons made to Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton. These appear to be valid comparisons as well in terms of physique and athleticism. Since my last Flynn analysis though, I have been intrigued by another comparison. Let me provide a warning however to those of you who possibly aren't accoustomed to suspending your disbelief.
Player X was a point guard who played two years of college ball like Flynn. During those two seasons, Player X averaged 15 PPG, 6.3 APG and 2.5 SPG while shooting 47.1% overall, with a 46.9 3PT% and 83.8 FT%. In comparison, at Syracuse Flynn averaged 15.5 PPG, 6 APG and 1.5 SPG while shooting 46% overall, 33.3% from three and 78% from the line. Clearly Player X posted superior shooting statistics - particularly from behind the arch - and also demonstrated a phenomenal ability to steal the ball. Player X also led his team to the Sweet 16 as a freshman and won an NCAA tournament game as a sophomore as well. Flynn was named to his region's All-Tournament team while leading the Orangemen to the Sweet 16 as a sophomore.
At the pre-draft NBA combine, Player X measure at 6'1'' with shoes. Flynn was 6'0.75". Player X weighed quite a bit less (178lbs.) than Flynn however (190 lbs.). Still, Flynn outperformed Player X in the vertical jumping categories (40" to 38" in max. vert.) and standing reach (7'11.5" to 7'9"). The two were equal on the bench press (10 reps) and nearly equal in the 3/4 court sprint (Flynn was 3.23, X was 3.22). Coming out of college Player X was compared both in terms of his game and his athleticism to current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
Enough already right? Here is Player X:
There it is, Chris Paul. Now, obviously I'm not really insinuating that Jonny Flynn is the next CP3. However, here's part of what DX had to say about Paul when he was coming out of Wake Forest in 2005.
"With his quick hands and dominant lateral quickness, you would expect Paul to be a dominant defender. However, he is mediocre at best in this area. While he ends up with a lot of steals, he isn't always an aggressive defender, and doesn't eat up opposing ball handlers the way that he should...
At a generous 6'0, Paul is a bit undersized as a point in the NBA. While his explosiveness more than makes up for it, Paul may have to adjust some of the things he does as far as attacking the basket. He may have trouble guarding some of the bigger point guards in the league as well.
Finally, while it's hard to call a player too competitive, it seems like Paul may have become just that during the ACC slate this past season. He developed a reputation as a guy who is willing to throw a cheap shot, even before the incident in the last game of the regular season where he punched Juilus Hodge below the belt.
Furthermore, there were some late season rumors of locker room unrest at Wake Forest. This is something that NBA teams will probably look into, though it's hard to see a team passing on Paul because of personality issues. He is too dynamic a presence on the floor.
Of course, Paul had some upside to him as well. Thing is, some of the knocks against Flynn are akin to those few given to Paul four years ago. Again, Flynn is not the ball thief that Paul was/is nor is he the perimeter shooter that Paul was or is today. Nor is he probably quite as explosive. But Flynn is also just 20 years old, and is good at splitting defenders and changing speeds. There is room for growth and the Kings' situation would be condusive to his leadership skills and development alongside the current young core of Thompson, Hawes and Greene (Flynn's former teammate). Also, the comparison of Paul to Kevin Johnson is intriguing because Johnson was coached by Paul Westphal in Phoenix for four years.
Overall, I feel that Flynn's upside probably doesn't reach the level of a Chris Paul or Kevin Johnson. However, I also believe his upside is considerably above some of those other comparisons (Felton, Brooks). For example, this past season Paul finished with a PER rating of 30.04 (behind only LeBron and Wade). Nelson, in 42 games before being injured, was having the best season of his career with a PER of 20.66. I think one could reasonably project Flynn's potential as reaching a PER of 18 a few years from now (somewhat like an Andre Miller in terms of productivity). Eventually he could break into the 20's like Nelson as well. Sure, for every Paul there are a lot of Sebastian Telfair's. I think Flynn will be closer to the former than the latter and if Petrie were to select him tommorow I'd be just fine.
Chris Paul photo via img.fannation.com