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Fast Five: The NBA Draft’s 5 Best Point Guard Prospects

Every other Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2014 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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How good is the 2014 NBA Draft class so far as a whole? That is the topic that about 83 percent of the teams in the NBA are asking themselves as they are in full-fledged scout mode, with little to no chance of winning an NBA championship. Here is a small slice of the conversation and review of the prospects that everyone is keeping an eye on.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.

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ONE: What Do We Know?
Kansas freshman Joel Embiid might be positioned better in the eyes of the NBA decision-makers to go No.1 overall than previous favorite, Andrew Wiggins. The two freshmen have come in and showed flashes of being great next-level athletes for their respective positions. This past week was a coming-out party for Embiid on the national stage as he showed off his impressive footwork, back-to-the-basket skills, rebounding and defending ability. With that type of play at the next level, Embiid could impact a game as an Anthony Davis or Roy Hibbert clone.

TWO: What Do We Not Know?
Who suffers the most from Embiid’s meteoric rise? Is it his highly-touted freshman teammate Wiggins? Or perhaps one of the other big men that were presumed to be more NBA-ready athletes and producers in freshmen Jabari Parker and Julius Randle? Maybe it will be Marcus Smart, Dante Exum or Aaron Gordon. Someone has to fall if someone else is rising… who will that be?

THREE: Stock Rising
California freshman guard Jabari Bird has begun to make a name for himself with steady play, to go along with his prototype size for the NBA two guard position. At 6-6, Bird has the size and the scoring ability with the ball. He is not an elite defender, but with his athleticism there is potential there to be a quality defender at the NBA level. Bird is shooting the ball at all levels, two, three, free throw, and overall from the field. He has a nice shooting stroke and needs to add more ball skills to create offense for others at the college level.

FOUR: Stock Falling
There has not been a dramatic dip in play so far this season. Some prospects have played below the standards they had set for them coming into the season, but overall nobody has crashed their stock. A few prospects that need to get back on track include Creighton senior Doug McDermott and Ohio State junior LaQuinton Ross.

Hit page 2 to see which five point guards will be chosen first in the NBA Draft…

FIVE: Quick Hitter
The need for data and more and more information has created a plethora of avenues to learn every detail about every prospect. Even with that the concept of scouting can still be broken down to a simple system. There are three primary things to look for when evaluating a prospect at its very basic, stripped down form.

One, is that an NBA prospect has to be an elite athlete. Not just that they are athletic, but are they going to be able to maneuver at the NBA level with fluidity to play their game. That is a question that escapes some evaluators as they look at the likes of Adam Morrison and Kendall Marshall, to name a few, as NBA lottery picks.

The importance of athleticism is one that cannot be overstated. Without the ability to navigate an NBA court or keep up with the best athletes in the world, there is no room for Morrison or Marshall on the court. They become a liability that does not bring a net positive to the team. Check back in two weeks for the next primary evaluating point.

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Top Five Point Guard Prospects

1. Marcus Smart: 6-4, 225 pounds – PG, Oklahoma State
Stats: (In 30.1 MPG) 19.0 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.0 SPG, 45.7 percent FG, 32.1 percent 3PT (18-for-56)
Either as a point guard or a two guard, Smart is one of the better perimeter defenders at his position. He is improving as a shooter, but needs to gain more consistency to keep defenses honest when they guard him at the next level. In the right circumstance, Smart could be the No. 1 overall pick and the face of a franchise.

2. Andrew Harrison: 6-5, 207 pounds – PG, Kentucky
Stats: (In 29.4 MPG) 10.9 PPG, 3.8 APG, 2.4 RPG, 39.4 percent FG, 36.0 percent 3PT (9-for-26)
So far this year, Harrison has not been the dynamic and productive point guard that most anticipated, but he has shown flashes to be that player on occasion. With his size and shooting, Harrison has near unlimited potential as a point guard with what the position has become at the next level.

3. Semaj Christon: 6-3, 187 pounds – PG, Xavier
Stats: (In 31.8 MPG) 15.5 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 45.5 percent FG, 54.5 percent 3PT (6-for-11)
Of all of the top point guards, there is not one that possesses the speed, vision and quickness to make plays and the size to finish in the paint. Christon is not great at any one thing, but rather very good at just about everything.

4. Jahii Carson: 5-10, 175 pounds – PG, Arizona State
Stats: (In 33.3 MPG) 19.9 PPG, 5.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 51.6 percent FG, 50.0 percent 3PT (18-for-36)
There is no better combination of speed, quickness and strength with the ball than what Carson brings to the table. He has improved as a shooter and controlling the pace he plays with is elevating his game to potential first-round pick.

5. Jordan Clarkson: 6-5, 193 pounds – PG, Missouri
Stats: (In 32.6 MPG) 19.4 PPG, 3.9 APG, 1.3 SPG, 51.1 percent FG, 29.0 percent 3PT (9-for-31)
A transfer up from Tulsa to Missouri put the dynamic playmaker on the national radar, which to this point has been nothing but a success. His elite quickness and ability to get into the lane is matched by very few, making Clarkson a next-level commodity.

The point guard position is the most crucial at the next level, with a trend of bigger, strong athletes that can score and get into the paint with ease. There is also room for the niche ones that have the shooting, speed or pure playmaking ability as this class provides. There could be as many as 4-6 first round point guards with this class. They’re all leaders of tomorrow.

Who do you think could be the biggest point guard surprise in this draft?

Follow Kristofer on Twitter at @NBADraftInsider.

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