There is not a position group causing greater amounts of stress and headaches in draft rooms come June 21 than the guards. From polarizing, to raw, to deeply flawed but highly skilled, this group has everything you could ever ask for if you want drama. So, let’s get started in determining who is best amongst the guards in the class of 2018.
5. Aaron Holiday- UCLA
Aaron Holiday has an NBA pedigree unlike anyone else in this class. The shifty point guard may be the smallest of his two older NBA playing brothers, Jrue and Justin, but, Holiday is much quicker than both of them. Holiday has a solid stroke and should be efficient from downtown in the NBA. He is very similar to Pacers current starter and ironically also a Bruin, Darren Collison, in that both have great speed but are a little undersized. The biggest concern for Holiday is how he and his size will fit into today’s NBA defensively. For now though, Holiday has all the makings of a long time pro, especially if he can figure out defence.
4. Trae Young- Oklahoma
You would be hard pressed to find a player more polarizing in this draft than Trae Young. Those who love him will tell you he has a chance to play like Steph, launching threes from everywhere, changing how defences think every time down the floor. Those who are his critics would tell you not only is Young smaller than Curry, less efficient than Curry and worse defensively than Curry but, he is also significantly younger and less experienced than Curry when he entered the NBA. For me, I tend to be more of a critic. Though I do not see him as the next Jimmer, I would say he will probably be more along the lines of an Isaiah Thomas in that he can score the ball off the pick and roll but needs serious help in hiding on the defensive end and will likely be more successful as a sixth man than a franchise cornerstone. Either way, whether you love him or hate him, you are going to tune in to find out how he fares in the NBA because, who does not love polarizing?
3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander- Kentucky (Canada)
Upside and potential are the name of the game for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Shai has all the size, length and athleticism to intrigue scouts with enough ability to make them see bright skies down the road. The only issue for Shai is not that he lacks skill or anything of that magnitude. No, the problem is that he is incredibly raw, having really only been given the chance to play true point guard for the final half of Kentucky’s season. It is just really difficult to go all in on a prospect who has played so little at the position he projects to at the next level. His NBA comparison is Shaun Livingston when he entered the NBA in that Livingston had all kinds of potential as a tall and lanky player coming out of high school but it was hard to really know what he would become. Unfortunately for Livingston, an injury ended his chances of being a star, although he has manufactured a fantastic career as a role player. For Shai, his ceiling is high, the question is, how close will he come to reaching it?
2. Collin Sexton- Alabama
For the record, Collin Sexton might be my favourite player to watch in this draft. Not only will you not find a more competitive player but, he is likely also the best guard and maybe even perimeter defender in this draft. Sexton competes to the final buzzer every single game and will let you hear about it with his constant trash talk. In terms of an NBA comparison, I see a lot of Westbrook in him in terms of how he approaches the game in constant attack mode, almost to a fault at times as it can hurt is playmaking and vision when he attacks the rim. However, he is not the size nor does he quite have the freakish athleticism of Westbrook but, he does shoot better more consistently (although still very streaky) so the best comp is probably Eric Bledsoe. Either way, the future is bright for Sexton and the one thing you can guarantee, nothing will stop this ‘Young Bull’ from getting where he wants to go.
1. Luka Doncic- Real Madrid (Slovenia)
Luka Doncic has a gift. The thing is, it seems NBA teams are afraid to let that gift grow. Doncic’s gift is his ability to find his teammates coming off the pick and roll and for years now, he has been doing in it in the toughest league outside of the NBA in the world. In fact, Doncic is not only the youngest MVP in Euroleague history, he is also the most accomplished and likely greatest prospect ever to come out of Europe. But, for some reason, NBA teams seem to be refusing to love the six foot eight guard who many project as a wing but given the success of Ben Simmons as an over sized point guard this season and, his dominance in the pick and roll, it is hard to imagine how Doncic will not be a main ball handler in the NBA. For me, unlike most other people who continue to compare him to the likes of Toni Kukoc and Hedo Turkoglu because probably he is white or European or some mixture of the two, I see a combination of Steve Nash and James Harden. He is a crafty and skilled scorer like Harden who is also a master of the pick and roll like Nash and has a similar unique ability to create for others. Athleticism is a concern but at some point what more can a player do than Doncic has outside the NBA? The answer? Nothing.