Buddy Hield is the last projected lottery pick standing. As such, we can begin to truly compare the season performances of all of the collegiate players projected within (and on the fringes of) the NBA lottery. This is the first of two posts, the second on the frontcourt can be found here.
There are two groups of information I think are important to provide in a "one stop shop". First up, how tall and long each player is and secondly their statistical production in the most recent season. Every player we are comparing played in a "big" conference (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, SEC, Big XII, or Pac-12) and while their is quite a bit of difference between conferences it is not nearly as great as if there was a small conference player to muck things up even further.
To begin, let's look at how every collegiate guard projected within the first 17 picks measures up, quite literally. These measurements were taken at a variety of locations and there is reason to question their absolute accuracy. Thankfully the NBA combine, scheduled to take place between May 11th and 15th, should give a far more consistent database of information. For now we have a variety of measurements from USA Basketball, Nike camps, and the Hoops Summit to tide us over.
|Average NBA PG||6'2.1"||6'5.1"||8'0.8"|
|Average NBA SG||6'5.6"||6'8.6"||8'5.5"|
|Average NBA SF||6'7.7"||6'10.9"||8'8.2"|
Most concerning here is Jamal Murray. Murray was considered a combo guard when he arrived at Kentucky, but thanks to the development of Tyler Ulis, he was moved almost exclusively off the ball. Does he have a future at the point? If not, he is going to be awfully small as shooting guards go. This is also an instance of inaccurate measurements that will be cleaned up at the combine. Murray's wingspan has "shrunk" from 6'8" to 6'6.5" in the last two years, and his standing reach has also decreased from 8'4.5" at the 2014 Hoop Summit to 8'1" at Kentucky's combine.
On the plus side, Denzel Valentine is quite nearly large enough to be considered a small forward. That tweener status, once a negative, is probably a positive in an age of small ball when players regularly play down a position in crunch time.
|Age||PER||TS%||FG% @ Rim||3PT%||FT%||TRB%||AST%||TOV%|
Murray and Hield were strictly two-guards in their offensive systems while the remaining four were primary facilitators. Holy red flags Batman. Wade Baldwin might have ridiculously impressive measurements, but those stats are terrifying -- a complete inability to finish at the basket and a sky-high turnover rate as a sophomore is very concerning to me. Kris Dunn's turnover rate, especially considering his age, is equally worrisome.
My goodness, Buddy Hield rains pure lava on the court. The best statistical equivalent is probably Ray Allen's junior year at Connecticut. Valentine stands out here as well thanks to his ability to do everything; shooting, facilitate, and rebound the ball. I was really surprised to see Jamal Murray at the top of the list at finishing at the rim as the knocks on him (limited length, average athleticism) tend to make finishing at the basket more difficult.
For the Pelicans, either Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray would make for a fine selection if they are not lucky enough to move up into the top three. Even if New Orleans picks third overall, both Hield and Murray should be in the discussion. Thanks to his age, Murray is the "upside" pick while Hield is going to be graded as the "low ceiling, safe" pick because that's how these things work come draft time.
Beyond those two, the only player I consider a good bet for what New Orleans needs is Denzel Valentine. There's value in doing a little of everything well if not being elite in any one area and that versatility is what Valentine provides. Filling in the gaps around Anthony Davis should be the goal in this draft and Valentine, Hield, or Murray should be at the top of the Pelicans wish list.