As we edge closer to the NBA Draft, we take a look at the more of the top prospects in the draft. In our last segment, we looked at some of the top point guard prospects. Here, will will look at who the top shooting guards in the draft are, and if and how they fit with the Utah Jazz.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
It is obvious that Wiggins would come up as the top shooting guard prospect in this draft. Wiggins has a ton of upside and potential when he gets to the NBA. There has been a lot of talk lately about how the Jazz have a lot of interest in trading up in the draft, with their sights set on drafting Wiggins. If that were to happen, what could Wiggins bring to the Jazz?
Wiggins is explosive, athletic, great on the defensive end of the court, and will bring a lot to the table in the Jazz’s transition offense. If the Jazz can bring back restricted free agent Gordon Hayward, and have a starting back court of Trey Burke and Wiggins to go with Hayward, the future will be very bright for the Jazz. The main thing that the Jazz, and a lot of other teams, have concern about is Wiggins’ shooting ability.
Wiggins was able to shoot over 44% from the field during his only season in college, but the inconsistent shooting is what teams will worry about. Wiggins had many games where he would shoot above 40% from the field, only to come out the next couple games shooting 20% or poorer from the field. However, his upside is extremely high and is an obvious no brainer for the top shooting guard prospect in this draft.
2. Nik Stauskas, Michigan
A former teammate of current Utah Jazz point guard, Trey Burke, Stauskas had a pretty great year shooting the ball in Michigan. If you look at how he would fit in with the Jazz, the answer is pretty clear. It is a definite yes.
Stauskas shot over 44% from beyond the three point line in his last season at Michigan. In today’s NBA, the three point shot is something that is valued very highly, and Stauskas is one of the best coming into the draft at shooting that shot. His shot is smooth and his release is quick. He is good spotting up and shooting, or shooting off the dribble. Also, coming to a team where he gets to team up with an old college teammate, could prove to be very valuable.
The one reason why you may not see him in a Jazz uniform next season, besides the fact that the Jazz would more than likely have to make a trade to select him, is he struggles on the defensive end. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey values someone who can score the ball, but is looking for guys who are great defensively. Another aspect of his game that he struggles on, is he doesn’t rebound well. Teams won’t ask him to rebound a ton, but they will also look harder at a shooting guard who can crash the boards, and his inability to do that could drop his draft stock.
3. Gary Harris, Michigan State
When you look at Harris, there is a chance that he could be a good player in the NBA. However, he is a bit undersized for the combo guard position. One of the things he does really good though, is great shooting and defense. However, his three point shooting dropped this past season to just over 35%.
Harris is tough, smart and a high-character player who comes from a winning program. Some think he can transition to playing the point full time. Even though he’s not a point guard, he should be able to assume some lead-guard duties when needed. He will continue to improve at the next level and help on both ends of the floor. He could help out giving Trey some breathing room if he can run some point.
As I mentioned above, Harris is a little undersized as a two-guard, and not an elite athlete. He’s not as adept to attacking the rim as NBA teams would like, either. He’s best served playing alongside another guard who can create looks for him. Based on his current skill set he’s more of a secondary backcourt option. If he proves to teams that he can run the point, it’ll bump his value. Though he’s a pretty safe pick, he might not have as high of a ceiling as some of the other guards in his first-round draft range.
4. James Young, Kentucky
Young is coming off a year at Kentucky, where he helped the Wildcats reach the National Championship game. However, the young Wildcats couldn’t get the job done, as they fell to the UConn Huskies. Young, though, had a fantastic championship game himself, and it capped off a season that was good, but at times very inconsistent.
Young can score the basketball, and for a shooting guard, has tremendous size and a great wingspan. Young didn’t fully display his prowess at Kentucky: He shot only 34.9 percent from deep, a low number he’ll be able to improve when playing with better playmakers who can manufacture open looks for him. Young has the ability to be a prolific perimeter threat with the correct development. He won’t turn 19 until August and has one of the bigger upsides out of the draft’s second tier of prospects.
As I mentioned before, Young played a bit inconsistent at times during his one season at Kentucky. Young had many games where he scored near 20 points or more, to turn around the next game and score in single digits. The lefty relies on the jumper a lot, and that could be the main reason for the inconsistency. Young will need to learn to drive to the basket if he wants to have long standing success in the NBA. Because of his length and shooting ability, he will be looked at as a piece that most teams will want. He could be available close to when the Jazz draft at 23.
5. PJ Hairston, Texas Legends/North Carolina
After having a fantastic season in 2012-2013 at North Carolina, Hairston was dismissed from the Tarheels this past season due to a series of off-court incidents. Between May and July of 2013, he was twice cited for speeding, citied once for driving without a license, and charged with possession of marijuana. A gun was also found outside his rental car. To make matters worse, on two of the occasions, he was driving cars leased by a known felon, which prompted the NCAA to launch an investigation into improper benefits.
After leaving the program, Hairston went on to compete in the NBA Developmental League with the Texas Legends. The offensive potential he demonstrated in college translated to the D-League. Hairston’s combination of size, strength and capacity to attack the basket make him a tough cover in the half-court, as he’s able to drive past defenders, fight through contact and finish in traffic. Hairston is also a solid shooter, with range out to the three-point line and the ability to get his shot off in a multitude of ways. He shot 35.8 percent from beyond the arc and 87 percent from the free throw line last season.
The issue that NBA general managers will look at are those off the court issues that Hairston has had. Those type of things make GM’s nervous. Also, Hairston had questions about his effort on the court – not playing hard every possession. That aspect is something that you can watch in the video above. He will be available when the Jazz draft at 23, and if GM’s have an problem with his off-court issues, there is a chance he could still be on the board at 35. Would the Jazz take a chance on a guy with a lot of potential, but at the same time a lot of off-court issues that could lead to more troubles?