This is the first in a five part series in which I analyze the 2014 NBA Draft by position. As a source I used DraftExpress's mock draft and for statistics I used both DraftExpress and Sports-Reference. All statistics used are for the prior college basketball season. Because of the lack of advanced statistic information and difference in playstyle for international leagues, I have only included NCAA players in this analysis. For information such as player position, school, height, etc. please click on the player's name and it will take you to their DraftExpress page with all that information.
One year ago at this time, Sacramento's backcourt was seemingly a position of strength and depth. We had Isaiah Thomas, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette and Toney Douglas. Of those guys, only Isaiah remains a King, and even that could change given his impending restricted Free Agency. The only other backcourt players the Kings currently have are last year's rookies Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum.
Because of this, as well as the Kings much reported interest in acquiring a true pass first Point Guard, the Kings could be taking a backcourt player in the draft for the second year running.
|Marcus Smart||So.||32.7||18.0||.422||.299 (49/164)||.728||5.9||4.8||2.9||0.6||2.6||2.9|
|Tyler Ennis||Fr.||35.7||12.9||.411||.353 (30/85)||.765||3.4||5.5||2.1||0.2||1.7||2|
|Shabazz Napier||Sr.||35.1||18.0||.429||.405 (87/215)||.870||5.9||4.9||1.8||0.3||2.9||2.1|
|Elfrid Payton||Jr.||35.9||19.2||.509||.259 (14/54)||.609||6.0||5.9||2.3||0.6||3.6||2.4|
|Deonte Burton||Sr.||38.6||20.1||.471||.314 (49/156)||.742||4.3||4.4||1.5||0.5||2||2.2|
|Jordan Clarkson||Jr.||35.1||17.5||.448||.281 (32/114)||.831||3.8||3.4||1.1||0.2||2.7||2.2|
|Russ Smith||Sr.||29.3||18.2||.468||.387 (70/181)||.705||3.3||4.6||2.0||0.1||2.8||2.5|
|Jahii Carson||So.||35.4||18.6||.433||.391 (36/92)||.719||4.0||4.6||0.7||0.1||3.5||2.2|
|Kendall Williams||Sr.||35.3||16.0||.430||.389 (63/162)||.792||3.6||4.9||1.6||0.1||2||1.8|
|Semaj Christon||So.||35.3||17.0||.479||.388 (19/49)||.668||2.7||4.2||1.3||0.2||2.6||2.1|
The first thing I noticed when I compiled these statistics is that there really doesn't seem to be a standout pass first Point Guard in this draft. Elfrid Payton leads the way in both Assist Rate (32.9%) and Assists per Game (5.9) with Tyler Ennis (32.3% and 5.5 respectively) close behind, but both pale in comparison to previous years. Last year we had 8 PGs with higher assist rates than anyone in this draft (with Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke as notables) and in 2012 we had 2 (Kendall Marshall andScott Machado).
Now just because we aren't seeing any elite assist rates doesn't mean there aren't good passers among this bunch. Tyler Ennis is probably the closest thing to a pass first Point Guard you're going to get. He's the only Freshman Point Guard of the bunch, and he scored at a much lower rate than any of his peers, mainly because he focused on running the offense. He has by far the best Assist to Turnover Ratio of the group at just over 3:1, and he's one of the better pickpockets as well at 3.9% steal rate. If you want a floor leader to run your offense and not score too much, Ennis is probably your guy.
But aside from Ennis, this is the year of the scoring Point Guard. Almost everyone else on this list is a scoring guard first and foremost. The biggest name of course is Marcus Smart, who is certain to be in Sacramento's range at #8. Smart is an interesting prospect because he's huge, aggressive and difficult to deal with on both ends of the floor. His Free Throw Attempt Rate of .648 is really high, meaning he shoots about 64.8% as many Free Throws as Field Goals. At the next level though he'll really need to up his Free Throw % to take advantage because 72.8% is disappointing for a guard. Hopefully it was just an off year, as he was at 77.7% his freshman season. His overall Field Goal % is one of the lower rates among guards, but that's mainly because he shot so many three pointers (only Napier and Smith shot more) at such a low rate. His actual 2P% was 51.4%, up from 46.5% in his freshman year. He'll need to both work on his outside shot and his shot selection in the NBA. As a passer and facilitator, Smart is good but not great, something that can be said for just about every guy in this group. It's on defense where Smart has a chance to be special. His size allows him to guard multiple positions, and he has a real feel for stealing the ball with an absurd 5.0% steal rate. For comparison, Michael Carter-Williams was at 4.7% last year. Smart also is one of the better rebounders of the group, which is ideal for a rebound and run offense.
Elfrid Payton is another name that's been brought up lately, as he apparently had a very good workout in Sacramento when he faced off against Smart's. In many ways he's very similar to Smart; He gets to the line a bunch, struggles with his perimeter shot, possesses great size and is a defensive pest. Payton's unique in that he's very young for his class. Despite being a junior, he won't turn 21 until late February. Payton possesses the highest assist rate, but he's also got the highest turnover rate, and his assist to turnover ratio is below 2:1.
The best of the rest in my opinion are Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith. Both are primarily scorers, and they're very good at it. Napier is probably the best shooter and most efficient Point Guard in the draft, with an excellent .591 TS%. He also hit a very good 40.5% on his threes, of which he shot 215. Napier was the primary focus of opposing teams' defenses and he still found a way to score at a high level. He will probably be ready to make an impact in the NBA from the moment he steps onto the court.
Russ Smith is similar to Napier except that he's probably the better defender, and one of the better defenders of this group despite his lack of real size. He's got a very high steal rate and his defensive rating is the best of the group by far (Louisville was one of the best defensive teams, and Smith was a large part of that). Unlike Napier, Smith will probably be available in the 2nd round, and could be a very good pickup if the Kings are able to acquire a 2nd round pick.
Coming Tomorrow: Shooting Guards