RALEIGH, N.C. — The top shooting guards in Thursday night’s NBA draft certainly offer plenty of high-scoring punch. They also come with some question marks.
Kentucky’s Malik Monk is the top prospect and is expected to go in the lottery, followed by Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell and Duke’s Luke Kennard — all in the first round. But the position doesn’t have the same projected upside compared to a stacked class of point guards or the next crop of do-everything forwards.
Here’s a look at the top shooting guard prospects:
Simply put, the Kentucky guard can score from anywhere.
STRENGTHS: The 6-foot-3, 200-pound freshman averaged 19.8 points while shooting 45 percent from the field, nearly 40 percent from 3-point range and about 82 percent from the line. Two games stood out in particular: a 47-point performance in a win against eventual national champion North Carolina in December and a February victory against Florida in which Monk scored 30 second-half points after managing just one basket before the break.
CONCERNS: Teams will want him to do more than just score. Monk wasn’t active on the glass (2.5 rebounds per game), averaged roughly as many assists (2.3) as turnovers (2.0) and less than a steal a game. He also faded in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 14.8 points and shooting 38 percent in four games. The 19-year-old has plenty of athleticism but will need to develop an all-around game for nights when scoring doesn’t come as easily.
Fred Vuich, FIle, The Associated Press
In this Jan. 24, 2017, file photo, Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes up for a shot against Pittsburgh guard Cameron Johnson (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Pittsburgh. Mitchell left Louisville after his sophomore season and has the chance to be a lottery pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
The Louisville guard took a big leap in his sophomore season to become an all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer.
STRENGTHS: Mitchell has solid athleticism and a sturdy 6-3 frame, weighing in at 211 pounds at the combine to go with a 6-10 wingspan. He averaged 15.6 points in his first year as the Cardinals’ go-to guy, contributing on the glass (4.9), on the defensive end (2.1 steals) and even occasionally at the point (2.7 assists).
CONCERNS: Mitchell is undersized for an NBA shooting guard. He also shot just 35 percent from 3-point range and had some issues with his shot periodically through the year. His shot selection prompted coach Rick Pitino to say Mitchell was “trying to win a game of H-O-R-S-E” by taking the toughest shots possible during a November game against Old Dominion.
(Diedra Laird/The Charlotte Observer via AP
Luke Kennard participates in Charlotte Hornets pre-draft basketball workout at Spectrum Center practice court in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, June 18, 2017. Multiple players that could be chosen with their #11 draft position were attending.
Duke’s all-ACC wing blossomed as a sophomore into a polished and highly efficient scorer whose shooting range stretched defenses.
STRENGTHS: The 6-6 wing upped his scoring average nearly eight points per game to average 19.5 points. He also averaged 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He didn’t need a ton of shots to put up strong numbers, either; Kennard shot 49 percent from the field, 44 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the foul line. He can produce in both catch-and-shoot and screen scenarios.
CONCERNS: Kennard lacks elite athleticism and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to consistently create his own shot in the NBA. He’ll also have to hold his own on defense.
Stacy Revere, Getty Images
Terrance Ferguson #21 speaks to reporters during Day Two of the NBA Draft Combine at Quest MultiSport Complex on May 12, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.
The former McDonald’s All-American and Arizona recruit passed on college to play professionally in Australia.
STRENGTHS: Ferguson has size (6-7) on the perimeter to go with athleticism and could potentially play small forward. He’s projected as a first-round pick, possibly in the middle of the round.
CONCERNS: He had his struggles with the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League, averaging 4.6 points and 1.2 rebounds while shooting 31 percent on 3-pointers in 15 minutes a game. His game and body (190 pounds) still need development for the next level.
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post
Colorado basketball standout Derrick White talks with members of the media after a pre-draft workout with the Denver Nuggets before the NBA draft at the practice court at Pepsi Arena on June 19, 2017 in Denver.
The 6-4 senior has had an interesting rise from high-scoring Division II guard to all-conference transfer at Colorado.
STRENGTHS: White has a knack for scoring and the potential to play either guard spot at the next level. He averaged 22 points for his career at Colorado-Colorado Springs as a wing, then averaged 18.1 points and 4.4 assists for the Buffaloes in his first season playing the point. He also shot 51 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range at Colorado.
CONCERNS: White doesn’t have remarkable quickness or explosiveness, so it’s unclear how he’ll match up with more athletic NBA guards.
OTHERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:—
— JOSH HART: The Villanova senior was an Associated Press first-team all-American who averaged 18.7 points but doesn’t boast elite athleticism. He’s a likely second-round prospect.
— TYLER DORSEY: The Oregon sophomore got rolling late in the season with 20-plus points in his last eight games, helping the Ducks reach the Final Four for the first time since 1939. He’s a possible second-round pick.
— SINDARIUS THORNWELL: The South Carolina senior helped drive the Gamecocks to their first Final Four appearance with his tough-nosed play. He’s a second-round prospect.