Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a serious talent infusion at point guard in the NBA. In 2009 alone, eight of the first 21 picks turned out to be starting point guards for today’s teams. So this year we should expect more of the same right? Wrong. There are a couple of top tier prospects in Damian Lillard and Kendall Marshall, but aside from them, finding a legitimate floor general might be a crapshoot.
However it isn’t impossible to come across an above average passer after the lottery. In 1996, the Phoenix Suns selected Steve Nash with the No. 15 overall pick. Rajon Rondo went ten years later, also to the Suns with the No. 21 pick and of course, the media has drilled into us what Jeremy Lin has been able to accomplish after being undrafted in 2010. Intelligent players can be found at any point in the draft. It’s just a matter of development that determines if they can ever hold the reigns to an NBA offense.
Court vision is something that can’t be taught. Coaches and GMs would much rather develop a passer into a shooter than vice versa. So while some of the guys on this list may not have the talent to start right away, they do possess enough ability to crack our top 10 passers of the 2012 NBA Draft.
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10. ANDREW ALBICY
Andrew Albicy has moved down on a lot of draft boards after a disappointing performance at the 2012 adidas EUROCAMP, but the 5-10 guard who draws Muggsy Bogues comparisons still has hope to be drafted. He’s lightning quick and has the court vision to contantly hit his cutters, especially outside of the arc. One thing you can’t teach though is size. His height constantly creates mismatches on the defensive side of the court. In the NBA he would be posted up on every possession. Albicy needs to work on his jumper a bit too, but he has the passion to make an NBA roster, even if he has to wait in France for a few more years.
9. JESSE SANDERS
Although Jesse Sanders is unlikely to be drafted, I have to give him a shout-out. The senior from Liberty flew just as much under the radar as his team did last year, averaging 12.5 points, 7.8 boards and 8.0 assists. He has the court vision to compete on the next level and has already improved his jumper, but there is just too much work to do. He lacks some much needed athleticism but should have a prosperous career overseas.
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8. JOSEP FRANCH
After making his way from DKV Joventut to FC Barcelona, and finally to the NBA last year, Ricky Rubio experienced a lot of success in his rookie season. Also from DKV Joventut, Josep Franch is hoping to do the same, but has a much longer road ahead of him. He is a pure, pass-first point guard who can see the floor with the best of them, but lacks enough athleticism to possibly even warrant a pick. If selected, it would most likely be a draft and stash, as Franch needs a few more years to develop overseas before seeing an NBA court.
7. MARQUIS TEAGUE
First it was the Gasol brothers. Then the Lopez brothers. Now, the Teague brothers look to leave their footprint in today’s NBA. Marquis, brother of Atlanta’s starting point guard, Jeff, is a very talented prospect. He seems to get wherever he wants on the court, which leaves him with a lot of options. Surrounded by athletes last year in Kentucky, Teague averaged just 4.8 assists, but his tenacity at both ends of the court always keeps him on the floor. Most of the time, he likes to push the pace, not allowing for the defense to get set. But sometimes, that gets him in trouble as he can get a little wild when trying to do too much. However, if drafted somewhere where he has time to mature and learn the half-court game a little more, Marquis Teague has the ability to thrive. Right now he is projected as a mid first rounder.
6. TOMAS SATORANSKY
Tomas Satoransky is a 6-6 combo guard from the Czech Republic best known for winning the Liga ACB Slam Dunk Contest in incredible fashion. He has a wonderful blend of size, strength and athleticism that allows him to help out a team in all facets of the game. Satoransky is surprisingly athletic for a European player and his court vision is what drives his game. Being so tall allows him to see over most defenders and although shooting is not his strength, it isn’t a weakness either. After Evan Fournier, Satoransky will be the next foreign player off the board. Look for him to be drafted sometime in the mid-late second round.
5. DAMIAN LILLARD
If you already read about this draft’s top shooters then you know Damian Lillard has an uncanny natural scoring ability. Although he’s not a true point guard, Lillard can also get the job done distributing. He’s most effective penetrating the lane and looking for a kick out, but he can also keep you honest by finishing at the rim with creativity. Despite only averaging 4.0 assists at Weber State last season, the ball can be trusted in his hands as evidenced by his 2.3 turnovers and 34.5 minute per game averages. Lillard will likely be the first point guard off the board, so look for him to be taken in the lottery come draft night.
4. ROYCE WHITE
At 6-7, Royce White is far from a point guard. He is, however, one of the better passers in this year’s draft. In his lone year of playing time at Iowa State, the small forward led his team in five categories, averaging 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks. White rebounds well beyond his size and loves to push the break after ripping down a board. From there, his height allows to see over a defense for a pass or attack the rim for two. He’s always aware of where his teammates are on the court and he should create some major matchup problems in the NBA. Look for White to be drafted in the mid-late first round.
3. TONY WROTEN
Tony Wroten could’ve benefitted from staying for more than just his freshman year at Washington, but still makes for an intriguing play in this thin point guard draft. Standing at 6-5 with a 6-9 wingspan, he already has superior size and strength against most of his would-be point guard matchups. A quick first step gives him easy access to the paint, allowing him to decide whether to dish off to a wing, or penetrate to the basket. Wroten can sometimes be a wild decision maker and only averaged 3.7 assists last season, but he is a skilled passer who often hit his teammates with passes so quick that they didn’t even realize they were open. With a little practice on his stroke (he shot just 16 percent from downtown on 1.6 attempts per game), Wroten has the potential to eventually become a starting point guard in the NBA. Right now he is projected to go in the late first or early second round.
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2. SCOTT MACHADO
The nation’s leader in assists last year, Scott Machado has come a long way in four years at Iona. As a freshman, he averaged 9.3 points with 4.8 assists while shooting 41 percent from the floor. Now, he’s leaving school after averaging 13.6 points and 9.9 assists on 50 percent shooting from the field. Machado isn’t the best athlete in the world and is a little undersized at 6-1, but he has incredible floor vision, both in the half-court and in transition. His steady improvement throughout college and the overall lack of good passers in this draft will keep Machado on team’s radars, even though he probably won’t be drafted until the mid-late second round.
1. KENDALL MARSHALL
Was there ever a doubt as to who was going to be number one? We all saw what happened to a loaded North Carolina team when Marshall went down with a fractured wrist during the NCAA Tournament. You can have all the talent in the world, but if there is no floor general to spread the wealth, it’s going to be difficult to win. And a floor general is what you get if you draft Kendall Marshall. While averaging 9.8 assists per game last year, Marshall also exemplified traits that all coaches and GMs love to see. Most importantly, he understands how to control the flow of the game and how to restrict his turnovers. He is known for rewarding teammates who run the floor and has the vision and creativity to make the game look rather effortless. Kendall Marshall is the best passer to come out of college in years and is a lock to be a sound professional wherever he goes.
Does anyone in this class have the potential to become a better playmaker than Marshall?
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