Welcome to the year of the Point Guards.
While you might hear plenty of criticism when it comes to the potential "star power" at the top of this draft, the 2020 class is one that will surprise you with intriguing depth. At the heart of all of that depth, is the point guard position...which has just about every type of ball-handler your heart can desire. "The Floor Generals" is going to be an installment in which we take a look at some of the notable guards in this year's class. In the first installment, we will be taking a look at our top 5 ranked guards in this year's class. Those floor generals include LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, Kira Lewis Jr, and Cole Anthony.
"TAKE MY MONEY": PLAYMAKING & VISION
There's a reason why you're going to get HAMMERED with LaMelo Ball coverage on the line. While Ball might seem a bit "overhyped" I'm here to tell you that the playmaking ability and vision are worthy of your attention. The shooting though...that's another story. Ball has everything you could desire when you're dreaming of a potential franchise guard. Swagger, anticipation, and the ability to throw players open like an NFL quarterback. Look, we know the history and potential "baggage" that Ball could come with. But if we are looking at this kid right now as a potential NBA Draft prospect only, he's worthy of a Top 3 selection on Draft Day.
"NOT SOLD": OUTSIDE SHOOTING & DECISION MAKING
The elephant in the room is the outside shot, similar to his brother Lonzo who was drafted second overall out of UCLA. While some might argue that LaMelo could easily "fix" his shot in the NBA, it's not only the mechanics. It's the fact that his shot selection is one of Steph Curry's right now. The problem with that sentence is that Curry shoots over 40% from downtown while LaMelo just finished a season shooting 23% from deep. LaMelo has plenty of frustrating displays of questionable decision making as well. He falls in love with an elbow floater that makes you want to scream. Although you would think he should be rim hunting at 6'7" with impressive handles and hesitations, Ball has problems finishing around stronger defenders as well. He's going to need to put some weight on his frame.
"TAKE MY MONEY": PLAYMAKING, VISION, BEING A SWISS-ARMY KNIFE
While some might be quick to point out the thin frame of Tyrese Haliburton, it's the other aspects of the game that should have you in awe. Haliburton could be one of the "safest" selections in the top of this draft class. Haliburton is an artist with the ball in his hands that makes decisive reads and moves like he's playing chess with the opposition. The thing is, Haliburton isn't just playing the next move, he's reading moves down the line. Haliburton might not be a threat to come in and dominate the game in a scoring sense, but his ability to make his teammates better is what is going to sell teams on his immediate potential.
"NOT SOLD": SHOT CREATION
Wasn't relied on often to create for himself while at Iowa State. So it's going to take some time for Haliburton to develop a game in which he can create for himself. Will most likely spend the majority of his rookie season playing off of the ball which could make his immediate "fit" crucial. Haliburton thrives as a catch and shoot weapon, and it would be wise for NBA teams to want to stress patience when developing his ability as a creator offensively. If someone drafts him early to create offense immediately for a team...it could stunt his growth. But if a team drafts Haliburton to play alongside a primary ball-handler...that's a different story.
"TAKE MY MONEY": OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER
It's going to be easy for a lot of basketball fans to see some James Harden in the play of young international prospect Killian Hayes. The smooth shooting lefty has some serious offensive firepower to his game, and there's plenty to be excited about. Standing at 6'5" with a reported 6'8.25" wingspan, Hayes checks off a number of boxes when it comes to his frame and size for a floor general. It's what he does on of the offensive side of the ball that will have fans picking in the top 10 giddy. Killian, who recently just turned 19 in July, has some serious offensive versatility to his game already. He's at his best with the step back, but Hayes has shown potential with his floaters and usage of hesitations. Hayes is at his best when the ball is in his hand, especially in the P&R game.
"NOT SOLD": LEVEL OF PLAY
Always a hard thing to consider when you're watching a unique draft talent that jumps off the screen with his level of play. The problem is, you need to consider who that individual is playing against. Will all due respect to the players in the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), the level of talent there isn't as high as some of the other international prospects in this class. This is notable when you watch a prospect like Hayes, who has struggled when pressured against better defenders. If Hayes is struggling with some of the more "intense" defenders in Germany, are we convinced that he's going to be okay against the likes of Jrue Holiday, Patrick Beverley, Marcus Smart, and others? While Hayes could be completely fine, and it is often difficult for many rookie point guards to come in and play against elite NBA defenders, it's still worthy of pointing out. Hayes has stood out against some of the weaker competition overseas, but now he's about to be thrown into the fire against the best competition in the world, featuring players who are going to be much more athletic than he is.
KIRA LEWIS JR
"TAKE MY MONEY": THE NEED FOR SPEED
If you're looking for a ball handler in this class that is an absolute blur in the open floor, then Kira Lewis Jr is going to be your guy. Watching Lewis is like watching a Ferrari in a high-speed pursuit. Lewis has NBA-ready speed right now and has a great usage of his hesitations. He will entice teams who are looking to put a supercharged asset into their transition offense. Kira will draw plenty of comparisons to Sacramento Kings young star guard De'Aaron Fox, although Lewis has the potential to be a better shooter from outside early on.
"NOT SOLD": CONTROLLING THE SPEED
While having elite speed is a fantastic asset for a young guard at the NBA level, you need to be able to control that speed. Lewis is still working on that, as his speed can lead him into trouble, especially when navigating through traffic. It's not a terrifying weakness, but he's definitely going to need to learn to manage his speed better. This also could be something that improves naturally early on, as the additional spacing of the NBA game should help early on in his career.
"TAKE MY MONEY": MICROWAVE ABILITY
The former North Carolina freshman will have one of the more fascinating ranges that will be discussed throughout the entire NBA Draft. Some have Anthony as a potential lottery selection, while others have him positioned as a second-round selection. The former Top 5 recruit of the 2020 class had plenty of hype building up before the season as a potential early-lottery selection. He's a productive microwave type of scorer with a good outside shot that can fill it up in a hurry. While some NBA teams might not be as high as others on Anthony, others will be convinced that his offensive firepower and grittiness can be a huge plus for their rosters.
"NOT SOLD": EFFICIENCY
This is the part that is going to scare a lot of scouts and executives away from Anthony. Although Cole had some big performances during his only year in a Tar Heel uniform, there are still some concerns about his overall efficiency. With all due respect to the players, North Carolina didn't have a lot of surrounding offensive firepower to help shoulder the load. Because of that, Cole was asked to carry a heavy load offensively. Now the question is...does Anthony thrive when surrounded by NBA talent or will the numbers continue to confuse. Anthony thrived as an Isolation weapon at North Carolina, ranking in the 92nd percentile (via Synergy). But that similar type of usage, won't be expected so early on in his career. Anthony also is a vastly underrated athlete who can explode at the rim but finished with an eye-opening 39.2 FG% when finishing around the basket.