Purity of Position (PoP) – a strong part of the NBA draft process and an important one. We see your skills, your size and your understanding of the game (aka BB IQ) but do you belong on our team or in our League?
Here in Sacramento this is an oft mentioned issue; Is Tyreke Evans a point guard? Before you NaPG this question – let’s agree that purity is not an answer. Combo guard is a better answer than the Blueprint response of "I’m a basketball player". Marcus Thornton is a shooting guard, a small SG but a facilitator he is not, because of his size, let’s call him a combo guard. Beno Udrih – a facilitator to a decent degree but is a steady shooter and reliably scorer but can’t defend – again, many call him a combo guard. Also on the Kings – JT – a PF/C, DMC also a 4/5. Carl Landry had the size of a big 3 or small 4 but played the 4 on offense and the 3 on defense. Tweener.
Looking at this year’s NBA Draft those same question abound.
Where does this guy play?
How does he fit?
Does his college or Euro position résumé apply at the next level?
Are the skill strengths applicable in the Association?
Can he overcome the weaknesses to his game or his size in the NBA?
During the evaluation process an important feather in the cap of some of these prospects is getting that position label. The players know that, the agents know that and of course the GMs and Scouts understand that as well. By extension promotion can blur PoP accuracy
Let’s start a King’s eye view with two of the most mentioned prospects on the community boards – Kemba Walker from the NCAA champion Connecticut Huskies and that man from the Brigham Young Cougars, the one and only, NCAA scoring leader Jimmer Fredette
Both young men are skilled, tough, competitive leaders who can score the basketball. In college basketball they both were assigned to handle the offensive load for the team and passing was not encouraged. Both are "NBA small". What one has in shooting touch, the other has In athleticism. They both face the same question but from different vantage points – can they defend? Can they facilitate an offense? In other words – can they play Point Guard?
At this point in the conversation the debate is often thrown over to successful players – Ben Gordon, Eric Gordon, Flash Gordon, Commissioner Gordon – let’s leave past player hyperbole out of this talk, please. None of these guys are any of those guys.
On the other side of the ledger are the projected top 2: Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. Both fine talents and impressive with their skills. But Irving is the #1 pick because he is a pure point guard. Derrick Williams is solid "big" shooting forward (though forward is perhaps the most variable height and size position in the League – from 6’5" to 6’12") as he appears to be quick enough to guard small forwards. It is due to PoP that both of these guys are "solid" picks – they have positions on a team, any team.
What about the rest of the bunch in the top 10? Enes Kanter – big, long, a bit lumbering – a solid "5". Brandon Knight – combo guard – with a promotional lead towards PG as he is not a "scorer". Jan Vesely – 6’11" 240 lbs, PF. Kawhi Leonard – tweener. He can defend and rebound but is too small to post up against say, DMC or Sammy, and can’t defend either of them and his jumper has been questioned. Tristan Thompson – 6’8" 225 and averaged less than 8 rpg. Tweener. Jonas Valanciunas – 6’10" 230 who is known to be a rebounder – PF. Chris Singleton 6’9" 225 but athletic - PF.
The Kings "need" a point guard and another big for the post Sammy era (sooner or later) – There seems to be enough PoP for the bigs but on the point guard side – Walker, Jimmer, even Knight are combo guards. Will the Kings reach for backcourt prospect? Should they? Must they be point guards or is BPA the call?