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NBA Draft 2016: All about Utah Jazz guard Marcus Paige - The Downbeat #1940

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Breaking down the Utah Jazz's 2nd round, Pick #55, from his bio, college career, scouting videos, and where he fits in the depth chart today!

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz traded down from #42 and received cash and the #55 -- and with it they selected UNC's Marcus Paige. Paige would have been a reach at #42, but at #55 he's like finding a $20 dollar bill in your winter jacket pocket. While there are some limitations (mainly due to his size and quickness, and how they will translate to defensively in the NBA), there's a reason why he got drafted and hundreds of other players who had their name in the pool did not. The Senior found a way to be an effective player over his entire college career, not letting his size get in the way. But as the tale of the tape goes he is 6'0.5" in socks, has a 6'6.25" wingspan (0.75" more than Trey Burke, 2.25" more than Raul Neto), and has one of the worst standing reach values for the nearly 200 players I keep track up on a spread sheet. (Jazz players from the 80s onwards). Of course, that's only one side of things. When his lane agility was measured it was one of the best in his draft class, and 10th best All-Time out of the 200ish Jazz players I have in my sheet. Among just point guards he ranks 7th behind John Lucas III, Ronnie Price, Jerel McNeal, Dante Exum, and Eric Maynor. He's also 7th best in North/South Speed (the sprint), where he clocked in at 3.14 seconds to run 70.5 feet. Sometimes it takes me more than 3 seconds to understand how to change the channel on my remote control. So Paige is small of stature, but really fast. He's not an out-of-this-world athlete and he has the smallest hands of any point guard I've kept track of. But the bottom line here is not to judge him by his size. But by what he can do on a basketball court.

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Marcus Paige is a combo guard, probably because there's no better way to explain his shooting strength and less than idea height for a shooting guard. I'm not hating on him, I can't. He's from the midwest (if Iowa still counts). The former Iowa Mr. Basketball of 2012 and McDonald's All-American is a smart, quick player who has been on a lof of All-ACC teams and hit a lot of threes in his four years at the University of North Carolina. (He had many suitors for his talents coming out of high school including Kansas, Minnesota, Virginia, Illinois, and Iowa.) UNC has a history of making professional players, among their 83 pro players are: Vince Carter, Michael Jordan, Antawn Jamison, Sam Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, James Worthy, Walter Davis, Bob McAdoo, Billy Cunningham, Bobby Jones, Charlie Scott, Raymond Felton, Rick Fox, Kenny Smith, Brad Daugherty, J.R. Reid, Hubert Davis, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Harrison Barnes, a bunch of tall white guys named Tyler, and the immortal Marvin Williams.

A few of those guys are point guards. A few of them small, shoot first, point guards. That's precisely what Paige is as a player right now. If he is going to make the Utah Jazz he will have to be more than that.

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Marcus Paige is coming from one of the most stories NCAA programs there is, the University of North Carolina. Of course, they are the rivals of Duke University -- and our head coach, an assistant coach, and starting shooting guard are all Dukies. So there's that. In his four years at UNC Paige played in 141 games and 4,570 minutes. That's about 35 games a year, and playing in over 32 mpg. His four year college averages are 13.1 ppg (.407 .375 .844) off of 10.4 shots a game, 4.3 apg, 2.8 rpg, and 1.4 spg. He shot 5.7 threes a game, and made 2.1 of them. Two threes a game, for over 140 games is nice.

You can argue, and I guess I will, that he didn't have the perfect Senior season. His ppg (12.6) was down from his NCAA career high (17.5). His apg (3.7) was down from his NCAA career high (4.6). His rebound (2.5) were also down from his NCAA career high (3.2). And his shooting really took a dive, from his averages of .407 .375 .844 he finished 2016 shooting .398 .356 .774. Significant factors in his per game average changes are due to his role changes over the four years and his minute changes. If we want to excuse his shooting problems as a Senior it's as simple as recognizing that he had a hand injury during the season which severely impacted his shooting ability. (By his own admission at one point he missed 20 something threes in a row during games -- this is a guy coming into the season who did few things better than make threes.)

His player profile fits probably better in the 1980s or 1990s NBA where you could hand check and being a guy shooting in the high 30s from deep made you a legend. Today where you have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson bombing from above 40% it's a new ball game.

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Paige was on my big board. He was #70 on my massive consensus, so having him go 15 spots higher at #55 is a surprise. Seven people had him on their big board or mock draft, and his average spot there was 67.6. Only one guy had him being drafted, Kevin Pelton (@ #44). So I'm not going to call this a reach, but the Jazz must have really liked him to pick him up here. He may be worth it, but overall scouts weren't crazy about this UNC Senior. Kevin O'Connor had this to say:

     DB 1940 KOC Draft Guide Marcus Paige

In his Senior year he didn't shoot that well (part of it could be, you know, having a broken hand), but he was money from one of the corners. As a Soph he shot 6.5 threes a game and made 38.9% of them, and as a Junior he shot 6.3 threes a game and made 39.5% of them. That's the larger body of work than his injured abbreviated Senior season where he shot only a lowly 6.1 threes a game, making just 35.6%. If you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic. This kid is a good shooter. He's not Jeff Hornacek level good (only 84% from the free throw line over his career), and he's not John Stockton level good (no where near over 50% from the field). But in a league where shooting is now at a premium, having shot makers is always good.

A concern here is that he's not capable of making every type of shot there is. He's someone who can pin the defense down, but he's not someone who can get his on the run or close to the rim. There his size is a disadvantage he has yet to master. He did not impress me as a passer, though he did average over 4 apg in college. (A very impressive over 25% AST% as a Freshman!) He does have that big shot making, strong NCAA play "leadership". It's an intangible. It's something Trey Burke has/had. It can be a powerful asset or a hindrance depending on where the mercury is at any given moment. (Hot or cold)

Defensive there are bigger concerns. His combine scores for speed and quickness were very impressive. The larger body of work that is his over 4,500 NCAA minutes may say something different. I think he'd look great on a team with a dominant wing player on offense who is backed up by a versatile, defensive bigman in the middle. For example, next to Kevin Durant and Steven Adams? No problem. Next to Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert? Probably a little more problems. In the NBA D-League with J.J. O'Brien and Tibor Pleiss? Let's just move on . . .

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Film room:

1. Draft Express Pre-Draft workout video and interview:

At North Carolina I feel like he was used more like an Eddie House type of player -- House didn't have to set the table much, just run around, get open, and make threes. You need a guy like that, but this video makes it apparent that he is confident in his ability to be a more traditional point guard, while knowing who he is. He's here because of his shooting.

2. Marcus Paige Mix - UNC Legend

Of course, the people down there really like what he was able to do in his role.

3. Marcus Paige North Carolina game-tying 3 vs. Villanova

But at the end of the day, this is probably the only thing you need to see -- crazy degree of difficulty shots like this. I can imagine Jerry Sloan trying to strangle him with his mind, just because this exists.

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The Depth Chart at point guard is not one filled with a lot of opportunity.

  1. George Hill should be the starter at this stage
  2. Dante Exum should still command more than 20 minutes per game here
  3. Shelvin Mack was the starter last season and could still be on the team if his non-guaranteed contract is picked up
  4. Raul Neto was the starter for the first half of last year and proved to be a big game performer on offense and defense
  5. Trey Burke is one of the best point guards in the world right now, it's just that he's not playing in the world, he's playing in the NBA behind a bunch of players better than him
  6. Marcus Paige -- if he makes the team, and with the team as it is right now, he would be the 6th stringer

This doesn't include the #60 pick of the draft (Tyrone Wallace) or Alec Burks who can play point guard at times too when healthy. There just isn't space right now in the regular rotation for this guy. Things aren't that easy when you look at the wing rotation either.

  1. Gordon Hayward, duh.
  2. Rodney Hood is the other starter and does everything Quin Snyder wants and also played for Duke, UNC's rival
  3. Alec Burks should have a bounce back x2 year, we hope
  4. Dante Exum is going to need some playing time at the wing this year
  5. Joe Ingles can dial from long distance and dish on offense, while being a good steals guy and all-around lockroom presence
  6. Shelvin Mack has played some two for Quin Snyder as well
  7. Chris Johnson isn't a rookie, he'll be going into his 5th year in the NBA. That is as feat many do not achieve.
  8. Trey Lyles may see some time at the three this year too, who knows?
  9. And here we find the 6'0 in socks Marcus Paige

And really, if he was a few inches taller he'd be Jamal Murray. And if Jamal Murray was a few inches taller he'd be a Top 3 pick. Both of them are combo guards who really should be shooting guards if taller, or point guards if they had better handles and skill sets.

As a second rounder the Jazz do not owe him a contract, they just own his draft rights. He could pull an Olivier Hanlan and sign on with a team outside of the USA, or he could make less money playing in the NBA DL. One thing is clear though, it's not likely that he starts his professional career on an NBA team, unless you count summer league.