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NBA Draft 2016 Point Guard Class: By the Numbers

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With the NBA draft fast approaching, let's take a dive into the statistics of the point guard class of 2016, a strong and varied group.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers need a backup point guard. Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers have more of a scoring mindset than they do a playmaking one, and neither of them consistently gets other players on the 2nd unit involved in the offense. Pablo Prigioni showed his age in 2016, and he might not even be back with the team. Instead of searching for a point guard in a free agent class practically devoid of them, the Clippers might well want to plug the rotation spot with a draft pick.

There are a lot of point guards in this draft class, and only a couple are projected out of the Clippers viable range (counting the possibility of trading up). Therefore, I only took a look at the realistic possibilities, which excluded just two players: Kris Dunn and Jamal Murray. Also, all my research is based on college prospects, so no international players will be looked at here. Let's take a dive in to the numbers, which as usual are based on averages of the prospects' last two years in college (if they are sophomores or older).

Players

Age

PPG

APG

RPG

SPG

3PT

TS

Wade Baldwin

20.2

11.7

4.8

4

1.3

1.2

0.58

Demetrius Jackson

21.7

14.1

3.9

3.5

1.4

1.5

0.588

Tyler Ulis

20.4

11.4

5.3

2.4

1.3

1.3

0.559

Dejounte Murray

19.7

16.1

4.4

6

1.8

1

0.485

Gary Payton II

23.5

14.7

4.1

7.6

2.8

0.8

0.54

Kay Felder

21.2

21.2

8.4

4.5

2

1.8

0.563

Yogi Ferrell

23

16.8

5.3

3.5

0.9

2.4

0.593

Marcus Paige

22.7

13.4

4.1

2.7

1.4

2.4

0.553

Isaiah Taylor

21.9

14

4.8

3

1

0.5

0.508

Isaiah Cousins

22.2

12.2

3.4

4.5

1.3

1.8

0.516

First of all, as crazy as it sounds, my research into point guards in recent drafts (which might not be published until later in the summer, as my focus is on this draft) seems to suggest that assists really don't matter that much in evaluating college point guards. Some of the highest assisting players in recent draft history have washed out of the NBA, and quite a few who barely seemed to pass the ball at all in college have become solid NBA point guards. Another statistic which didn't correlate highly with success was rebounds, which was odd considering how important it was for wing players.

The one thing that was made crystal clear, however, is how vital steals are to point guard evaluation. Therefore, that's going to be the most significant factor in analyzing this crop of point guard prospects and determining their likelihood of success in the NBA. However, several other stats- points per game, 3 pointers made per game, and true shooting all seemed to have some value, so we will look at those as well. Here are the top performers in each of the important categories:

Top 3 steals per game: Gary Payton II, Kay Felder, Dejounte Murray

Top 3 three pointers per game: Yogi Ferrell, Marcus Paige, Felder/Isaiah Cousins

Top 3 points per game: Felder, Ferrell, Murray

Top 3 true shooting percentage: Ferrell, Demetrius Jackson, Wade Baldwin

First off, you may be wondering who Kay Felder is. Well, he is a junior point guard from the University of Oakland, which is in the Horizon Conference. This is not one of the bigger college basketball conferences, but the competition is still Division I level, and Felder should definitely not be written off. In fact, he is projected at the end of the 2nd round, and I have no idea why. Yes, he is pretty small, but he is a much more explosive athlete than a guy like Tyler Ulis, and he was absolutely dominant in the 2016 season for Oakland. The other name popping up a lot is Yogi Ferrell, who is another small, jitterbug point guard. His ability to hit deep three pointers off the dribble isn't quite Steph Curry like, but he can probably carve out a role as a bench scorer in the NBA.

The other two standouts are Gary Payton II and Dejounte Murray. Payton has one huge issue: he is going to be 24 by the time his rookie season starts. But to the Clippers, in win now mode, his age shouldn't be much of a deterrence. Ball-thiefing like he did in college is a terrific sign for his NBA potential, as he just picked pockets right and left. Murray does everything well on the basketball court but shoot. Which is a big problem. He is young, however, and shooting is a skill which can clearly be improved upon through an NBA career.

On the other hand, here are the bottom dwellers in the statistics categories:

Bottom 3 steals per game: Ferrell, Isaiah Taylor, Tyler Ulis

Bottom 3 three pointers per game: Taylor, Payton II, Murray

Bottom 3 points per game: Ulis, Baldwin, Cousins

Bottom 3 true shooting percentage: Murray, Taylor, Cousins

Don't draft Isaiah Taylor! The point guard from Texas is probably a nice guy, and a far better basketball player than 99% of people on Earth, but he just doesn't have a good statistical profile for the NBA. He fails to shoot the ball well or get steals, which doesn't bode well for his professional chances. The downside of Murray and Payton II also shows up here: neither of them is a good shooter or efficient scorer, though this is much more of a problem for Payton II, who has almost a half decade on Murray.

The other interesting name on here is Tyler Ulis, who has fallen in the rankings as the draft has approached. Small and not explosively athletic, Ulis is a pure point guard who manages his team and can score efficiently when needed. He is a good defensive player for his size despite his middling steals per game, but I wonder if he isn't getting overrated a bit. His stats are weighted down by his freshman year, where he got fewer minutes, but I don't think his potential is particularly high, and he is going to have a lot of trouble playing defense in the NBA.

Basically, there are quite a few decent NBA point guard prospects in this draft. Some of the older players in the bottom of the 2nd round aren't too exciting, but they are unlikely to be drafted anyway.

Clippers Should Draft: Dejounte Murray, Gary Payton II, Kay Felder, (Jackson if they trade up)

Clippers Should Avoid: Isaiah Taylor, Tyler Ulis (he wouldn't be horrible, but there are much better options)

Edit: I added in Isaiah Cousins, a guard from Oklahoma who was moved from shooting guard to running the point in his senior year. Still an uneven playmaker, Cousins is a terrific shooter who improved a lot over the course of his college career. Similarly to Ferrell or Felder, he would be an interesting trade down candidate, or even a surprise reach pick.