Top 5 NBA Shooting Guard Prospects

by August 18, 2008
40

by Jeff Fox

The 2009 NBA Draft’s top shooting guard prospects are the polar opposite of the point guard class.  While the point guard crop is experienced and/or will be ballin’ abroad this season, the shooting guard class is young and American.

All of our projected Top 5 off-guard prospects will be playing in the U.S. of A this upcoming season, with three likely to be screamed about as “diaper dandies” by Dick Vitale.

Just like 2008’s draft class, the top shooting guard will be a Trojan man.

1. Demar DeRozan – USC – FR

Coming straight outta’ Compton, the highlight reel known as Demar DeRozan first got national attention running for Master P’s AAU team with fellow USC freshman Lil’ Romeo.

While Romeo may have gotten more ink back then due to his rap and acting career, DeRozan was the one making the crowd say uhh with his moves on the court.  A highflying athletic guard, DeRozan can break his man down off the dribble and take it to the hole strong or stay outside and knock down long-range Js.

While he is expected to fill the void left by O.J. Mayo in the Trojan’s backcourt, DeRozan is not the playmaker Mayo was and isn’t as NBA ready.  Nonetheless, he should be one of the first names out of David Stern’s mouth at next June’s draft.

2. James Harden – Arizona St – SO

Another standout product of the SoCal high school scene is Rancho Dominguez’s James Harden. Harden’s superb freshman season for the Sun Devils got overlooked due to more hyped freshman like Mayo, Kevin Love and Jerryd Bayless also competing in the Pac-10.

NBA scouts noticed, however, and the lefty is considered a lottery pick prospect in ‘09.  Despite being the youngest player in the conference last year, Harden led the Pac-10 in steals (2.1 per game) and also ended up in the top-5 in scoring (17.8ppg).

While he is short for an NBA two-guard (6’4”), he has deep range on his jumper, is great at getting to the hole and knows how to use his 218lb frame to ward off defenders.

3. Jrue Holiday – UCLA – FR

Not trying to start up any East Coast-West Coast beefs, but it seems this year’s best shooting guards all hail from the greater L.A. area.

Next in line is North Hollywood’s Jrue Holliday, who is your classic “combo” guard.  With Darren Collison firmly entrenched as UCLA’s point guard, Holiday will likely fill the role recently vacated by Russell Westbrook.

Possessing lightning quick moves to the hole, Holiday is able to beat his man off the dribble with either hand and has a killer crossover move.  He’s also able to kiss the sky, dish to teammates, and since he is playing for Ben Howland at UCLA, is a solid defender.  If he proves this season that he has the potential to fill either backcourt position on an NBA court, expect Holiday to get snatched up early in the draft.

4. Stephen Curry – Davidson – JR

At 20-years-old, Stephen Curry is the old man of this list.  He also isn’t from SoCal, instead Charlotte and the East Coast is where he calls home.

Curry was THE story of last year’s NCAA tournament, leading the upstart Davidson Wildcats to the Elite Eight and almost upsetting eventually champion Kansas.  Like his father before him, Curry has a sweet shooting stroke and that will be his ticket into the NBA.

As he showed in last year’s tourney, despite being rather small for a shooting guard (6’3” 185lb) and not an off-the-charts athlete, Dell’s little boy is crafty enough to get his shot off against bigger, stronger, more athletic defenders, which is what he will have to do in the pros.

5. Tyreke Evans – Memphis – FR

Tyreke Evans was at one time considered the top recruit in the 2008 high school class.  Now he finds himself not even considered the top guard, with Holiday, DeRozan, Brandon Jennings and Scotty Hopson all jumping ahead of him on Rivals.com’s list.

Be that as it may, Evans is a talent that should not be overlooked and is still considered a lottery to late first round pick next June. At 6’6” 219lb he is equally capable of playing either backcourt spots due to his great handle and slashing ability, and his close to 7-foot wingspan will serve him well at both ends of the court.

Next in line: Gerald Henderson, Duke; Scotty Hopson, Tennessee; James Anderson, Oklahoma St; Wayne Ellington, UNC; Terrence Williams, Louisville.

Next Column: Top 5 Small Forwards

Jeff Fox writes more extensively about the NBA draft and college basketball at www.collegehoopsnet.com.  All hate mail can be directed to him at foxyjj@sympatico.ca.