When Vander Blue made the decision to forgo his senior season he let it be known that his workouts leading up to the draft would be as a point guard, not the shooting guard position he played for three years at Marquette. Though Blue contended he ran the Golden Eagles offense at times, the reality is he only did so, on rare occasion, as a sophomore when Marquette went with a three-guard lineup of Todd Mayo, Darius Johnson-Odom and him.
Blue’s 11 team workouts, his NBA Combine performance and countless individual workouts in Milwaukee and Los Angeles were at the point, where he presumably is attempting to cover up his below-average jump shot and tweener size as a shooting guard. The team that selects Blue — or invites him to summer camp if he goes undrafted — may see him as an off-the-ball guard, or may have liked what they saw in his limited point-guard experiment but as Blue sees it, he’s in a battle against the other court generals looking to hear their names called.
Between 2007 and 2012, an average of 10.8 point guards were selected each year in the NBA draft (65 in six classes). It’s not as cut-and-dry as that average, however, as 18 point guards were taken in 2009, while just six were taken in 2010 and 2012. Rounding out each class, 12 were taken in 2007, nine in 2008 and 14 in 2011. So the numbers vary, based on the needs of each NBA team and the depth of the position in the class.
This year’s crop of point guards has a pair of projected lottery picks, a handful of first-round bubble players and a surprisingly high number of accomplished collegiate players who may project as solid depth in the second round. Put another way, expect more than six point guards to be taken on Thursday.
Using the 10.8 average as a bar, while tacking on a few extra spots for good measure — and the high number of prospects in the class — and it’s safe to say Blue will need to find himself as one of the top 13 point guards in the class. How does he stack up? Let’s take a look.
NOTE: Last month we looked at where he ranked among shooting guards in the NBA draft.
No chance: These players are guaranteed first-round selections, a couple of whom should have their names called in the first 15 picks. Blue has performed at the combine, done his pre-draft workouts and has not come close to these players. That’s no snub to Blue, but these are the cream of the crop.
1. Michael-Carter Williams, 6-foot-6, Syracuse: Though his offense needs plenty of work, his length and athleticism have drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd, and they aren’t far off.
2. Trey Burke, 6-foot-1, Michigan: Once thought to be a lock for the top-3, Burke’s lack of size and athleticism may push him to the lower half of the lottery.
3. C.J. McCollum, 6-foot-3, Lehigh: Like Blue, McCollum is a combo guard who projects more as a shooting guard, but one who can also play the point if needed.
4. Dennis Schroeder, 6-foot-2, Germany: One of the biggest risers in the class, Rajon Rondo comparisons seem fitting for the pass-first, ultra-athletic German.
5. Shane Larkin, 5-foot-11, Miami: The son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin was easily the biggest winner at the combine, and it has him projected to go in the middle of the first round.
Slim chance: If Lazar Hayward’s first-round selection taught us anything, it’s to never say never. All it takes is one team to like what it sees in Blue and he could go before the players below, but it’s not likely.
6. Isaiah Canaan, 6-foot-1, Murray State: The senior will be ready to play from Day 1 and his outside shooting will make him a sought-after prospect late in the first round.
7. Lorenzo Brown, 6-foot-5, North Carolina State: What he lacks in outside shooting he makes up for with an excellent passing skill set and solid length. From minimal film, he seems like the player Blue would have been had Blue played the point for three seasons.
8. Pierre Jackson, 5-foot-10, Baylor: One of the most athletic players in the draft, Jackson has deadly range, can pass and plays solid defense. If he were three inches taller, he’d be a lottery pick.
9. Nate Wolters, 6-foot-5, S. Dakota St.: The senior has plenty of production to show for and his pick-and-roll prowess has 10-year, backup point guard written all over it.
10. Erick Green, 6-foot-3, Virginia Tech: An elite scorer who played point guard because of his size, Green is a bit of a project with plenty of upside–if he can prove he’s a passer, too.
50-50 chance: Here are the player Blue will be lumped in with on draft day. The players below have their deficiencies, and NBA teams will need to decide which they can live, and which players they want to build with when they pick in the middle-to-late second round. When it comes to, these are the players Blue must beat out on Thursday.
11. Myck Kabongo, 6-foot-1, Texas: An NCAA infraction caused him to miss most of his sophomore season, but the upside is as good as any player in this grouping.
12. Ray McCallum, 6-foot-3, Detroit: An ultra-talented player out of high school, McCallum does a little bit of everything and is quick in his decision-making.
13. B.J. Young, 6-foot-4, Arkansas: A combo guard, Young is more of a point guard at this stage but has shown the ability to hit from beyond the arc.
14. Phil Pressey, 5-foot-11, Missouri: The Tigers court general is the best pure passer in the class, yet he’ll have to do more at the next level to stick, and size is an issue.
15. Peyton Siva, 6-feet, Louisville: A proven winner, Siva is a superb passer but leaves plenty to be desired scoring the ball. Still, he seems like an excellent fit in Round 2.
16. Vander Blue, 6-foot-4, Marquette: He’s making the switch to point guard but must prove he can handle the ball at the NBA level; the athleticism and defense are there to make it work.
17. Nemanja Nedovic, 6-foot-4, Serbia: Per ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, Nedovic is an athletic combo guard who needs work on his jumper but is “always in attack mode.” He could be a classic stash for a team late in the draft.