I’m not lying, this was even boring for me to do (but there were 30 less guys in this one), but I do think that this was still somewhat worthwhile. Isolated predraft camp measurements for any given class mean so little. Not just because how you measure as a rookie means little to how you measure as a 5th year pro – but they mean little because in the NBA you’re not competing against only other guys from your class. Your class includes a lot of guys who don’t even get drafted. Furthermore, in the NBA you’re playing against the best of the best. Some guys don’t do all the drills. Some guys don’t even show up to be measured (Europeans playing professionally, etc) at all. Lastly, some of the drills mean little within the context of their playing class. Monta Ellis couldn’t do one rep on the bench press station. Not only are there zero bench presses necessary to do during an actual NBA game, but bench press is biomechanically testing for something that shooting guards need less of. A guy like Monta, who plays all game long and is always running, needs stronger legs and greater endurance. He’s been a solid pro, even if he couldn’t do one rep on the bench as a kid entering the draft straight out of high school.
Anyway, here’s an evaluation of the point guards from the draft classes of 2000 all the way to 2011. And these are not all the point guards who tested, nor is it all the point guards who were drafted. It’s a select 40 few guys who help establish a proper frame of reference for the hopeful rookies that were just tested.
Who are these guys?
The point guards I used for this analysis were: Aaron Brooks, Brandon Knight, Chris Paul, Darren Collison, Dee Brown, Delonte West, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Earl Watson, Eddie House, Eric Maynor, George Hill, Gilbert Arenas, Jamaal Tinsley, Jameer Nelson, Jason Hart, Jay Williams, Jerryd Bayless, Jimmer Fredette, John Wall, Johnny Flynn, Jordan Farmar, Jrue Holiday, Kemba Walker, Kirk Hinrich, Kyrie Irving, Luke Ridnour, Mo Williams, Nate Robinson, Raymond Felton, Rodney Stuckey, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ronnie Price, Russell Westbrook, Shaun Livingston, Speedy Claxton, Stephen Curry, T.J. Ford, and Ty Lawson. Clearly this exhaustive group can produce a solid frame of references with which we can use to understand these potential rookies. Some of these guys were lotto picks. Some of them were late 1st round picks. Some of them barely made it into the second round.
The critical criteria
They test a ton of things at the predraft camps. For a point guard, I think, the critical criteria are height (in shoes – they don’t play in socks after all), weight, wingspan, bench press, ¾ court sprint, lane agility, max vertical, and max reach. Height and weight are obvious reasons. Wingspan helps to determine if they can get their hands on balls on defense. Denying a post entry pass, deflecting something in the lane, there are many reasons why you’d want a long wingspan. Bench press seems like a dumb thing to care about, but if you’ve watched any of our games before you’d see that our guards are required to screen for our bigs. A lot. The 3 / 4 court sprint is important because you want the guy who has the ball in his hands to be fast, in order to start the break. Lane agility helps with moving around in a defensive stance all around the paint. The quicker you are, theoretically, the better you will be in helping out team mates or moving to meet penetrators. The Max Vertical is important because that’s how high you can get when running, and PGs who drive need to get up as close to the rim as possible in order to finish among the trees. Max reach shows what you can get to. This is a cumulative value that incorporates max vertical, wingspan, and height. The basket is 10 feet high. The apex of a ball’s arc towards the basket can be much higher depending on the release point of the shooter. The biggest and best can challenge even the most difficult of shot attempts – or get up that high to shoot for themselves. After all, we saw what a great athlete can do in that Miami/Chicago series on defense. A dynamic guy helps here.
Player height, weight, wingspan, and bench press
The standard deviations exist as a color gradient. Within one standard deviation is lightest, with the higher standard deviations are increasingly full in color. Values above average are in blue tones. Values below average are in red tones. Rookies are in yellow cells. Former Jazz players are in grey cells. Current Jazz players are in Jazz colored cells.
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Height: Three of the top PG candidates are above average height (in shoes, duh). We’ve had a number of taller PGs on our team over the years and it seems like those are the type of guys we lean towards. No one is really outstanding in height, save for Shaun Livingston. I’m surprised to see that Devin was taller than Deron according to the predraft camp data.
Weight: Weight isn’t something you want a lot of in your point guard. At the same time, you don’t want to be fragile either. The prospective point guards are half above average and half below. The more athletic guys appear to be the heavier ones here, save for Nate Robinson though – who is frankly just a freak of nature.
Wingspan: The Average wingspan for a point guard is 6’5.05" – which is longer than the average height. Only two guys had wingspans less than their height: Eric Maynor and T.J. Ford. Irving is just barely rangier than he is tall (by +0.7%). By comparison Brandon Knight has a greater wingspan than height by +4.7%, Kemba Walker by +3.4%, and Jimmer Fredette by +2.7%. Of course, wingspan does not make or break a point guard, but it makes a huge difference on defense and rebounding – just ask Rajon Rondo.
Bench Press: The point guards who are within +2 standard deviations greater in than the average are some of the strongest points out there. They all are capable of finishing with contact. And in this league, there is a lot of contact. Not all points are built like full backs though – so the really speedy points do poorly here, while the rough and tumble ones do well. Statistically, it appears like Kemba is a speedy guard (like we didn’t already know this?). Guys like Knight and Fredette appear more capable of handling contact. Also, they look like they’d be way more capable of setting a screen that sticks.
3/4 Court Sprint, Lane agility, Max Vertical, and Max reach
Same legend as before…
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3/4 Court Sprint: This shows us who are the fastest guys. Not the fastest dribblers. Not the most evasive dribbles. Not the best penetrators. This just shows us raw speed. Brandon Knight is one of the fastest of the fastest NBA point guards of the last 11 years. He’s right behind a guy who is known, in professional circles, by the name Speedy. I’m sick of having guys like George Hill, Darren Collison, Ty Lawson and Aaron Brooks kill us because we didn’t have a guy fast enough to stay in front of them. It’s one thing to have difficulty depending a guy like John Wall or Derrick Rose. It’s entirely another thing to get burned by bench guys who exploited us. All of our dudes have been below average at this. Jason Hart was within -3 standard deviations from "average". There’s no such thing as a fast break with him leading the pack.
Lane Agility Lane agility seems more practical, and it is very important. You’re not going to just out sprint a guy all game long. Moving around on offense and defense in the half court set is better recognized by this drill. Brandon Knight scores better here than Nate Rob, who was a two sport athlete. Ronnie Price is Mr.Hustle, and he brought it in this drill as well. The most surprising thing is that Jimmer has one of the best scores of all time. Yes, there are a number of guys who did better – but in terms of placing him in a group of guys to see a frame of reference – I wouldn’t say he’s deficient at all in this category.
Max Vertical: This is how high you jump. It’s no surprise that Nate wins this, and he wins it handedly. Ronnie price is up there too. Four guys have greater than 40" max verts. That’s very impressive. None of the prospective rookies are in the Top 10 though. Knight and Walker are side by side here. Jimmer finds company with Kirk Hinrich and Luke Ridnour down at the bottom. (I went there, ha ha)
Max Reach: This is how high you can get, all abilities considered. The winner? John Wall. There’s no John Wall in this draft. But closest out of all the potential rookies is Brandon Knight. It would have been better if Kyrie Irving actually went through some of these tests. (Or Dee Brown, the one man fastbreak) Without his scores, we can’t really judge this crop of four PGs.
This group of PGs is an interesting group to me. They appear more NBA ready (physically) than some of the rookie Bigs, that is for certain. I think the big winner here is Brandon Knight, who is Top 15 in 7 of 8 categories. Jimmer made a name for himself with me with his crazy physical skill set of being a beast on the bench press (one less rep than Deron Williams, and Jimmer had the same number of reps as Enes Kanter) and lane agility. You know, if you happened to be in position to draft *both* of them and run them together instead of Earl and Ronnie in the 2011 version of the Swarm you’d have a pretty harmonious group of guards. One of them does all the screening and gets free. The other one does all the one on one stuff and pushing the ball up the floor. Both can shoot. Both can defend. Ah, but this is a post for another day . . .