Editor’s note: This is the first part in Clint’s three-part scouting report of the PG prospects the Jazz are most likely to draft: Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin, and Dennis Schroeder. Part 2 will be released Tuesday, Part 3 on Wednesday. First, Clint looks at the scoring talents of each of the three point guards.
In its June 11th mock draft, DraftExpress projected Michael Carter-Williams to be selected 13th by Dallas, Shane Larkin to go 14th to Utah, and Dennis Schroeder to cap this trio of point guard selections by heading to Milwaukee at the 15th pick. While their latest mock has since seen these players spread out, these three players are something of a microcosm of a draft with no clear standout prospects and precious little to separate many of the players.
Everyone has their favorite of these point guards most likely to earn a Jazz first round pick; or at least, everyone has their least disliked. Different “experts” and organizational mocks prefer one or the other, but the profiles of the players are largely the same wherever you look. It’s unlikely that any fan interested in the draft is going to find much new beyond rumor. That leaves true draftaholics like myself to watch actual game footage on which to base our preference. So that’s exactly what I did: watched footage to write my own profiles of these three guards who will potentially draw a lot of the Jazz’s attention if they are available when pick 14 rolls around on July 27th.
Keep in mind that I’m not a professional scout. I haven’t watched a half dozen games of Dennis Schroeder punking Germans with his crossover. I have watched the footage readily available on DraftExpress and Youtube on each of these players (more times than is enjoyable, I promise you), as well as the NCAA tournament and two or three regular season games played by each of Larkin and Carter-Williams. What follows are impressions from that amount of game observation. The profiles are mine, not repackaged from other available sources (except for the statistics), so maybe there will be some fresh perspective here for those interested.
Here is my assessment of each in the following areas (statistics are the previous season’s from DraftExpress and Basketball.Eurobasket.com):
Michael Carter-Williams: 39.3 FG, 29.2 3PT, 69.4 FT. Easily his greatest negative. His shooting form looks good from a distance, but I suspect there are mechanical breakdowns somewhere, maybe with his hand placement on the ball or when and how he sights the hoop, because he misses shots everywhere, sometimes badly—short and long, left and right, and frequently with no clear indication of why he missed where he did. The shot type doesn’t much matter either: kick outs, off the dribble, contested and open, it’s likely to be a miss. He is not a good shooter. His height and length give him the ability to shoot over the top of shorter defenders, but his slight frame means even slight contact throws him off balance as he shoots. From what I’ve seen, I suspect whatever is going on is going to be hard to correct and that MCW will be the least capable shooter of these three throughout his career.
Shane Larkin: 47.9 FG, 40.6 3PT, 77.7 FT. My favorite aspect of his game. Larkin is a good shooter with great range. He kind of reminds me of Trey Burke, to be honest. He really elevates on his jumper, which is good because he’s so short. He’s a good shooter off the ball, which is not particularly common for players who dominate the ball as much as point guards, and sets up his shots well through motion. He also has a very quick step-back jumper that he’ll use at nearly any range, as well as a good one or two dribble pull up. He doesn’t set up the step-back or pull up with his dribble particularly well technically because he’s so dang fast he typically doesn’t have to. He hits contested shots and takes and makes big jumpers. Overall, Larkin is easily the best shooter of the three.
Dennis Schroeder: 43.6 FG, 40.2 3PT, 83.8 FT. Schroeder is a good shooter with very dependable mechanics: fluid, on-balance, and slow. Really slow. He locates the hoop before even starting his motion, has a deep hitch, and doesn’t jump much on the shot. This means, give him time, and he may be as good a kick out shooter as any point guard in the draft (maybe except combo guard CJ McCollum); it also means if a man is in his face, he practically can’t attempt a shot because he’ll either be blocked or miss. His mechanics simply don’t allow him to shoot heavily contested jumpers, and they suffer when he attempts to shoot quickly when he’s open or off a hard dribble. Schroeder can stretch the floor in the NBA, but only in the limited role of a stationary shooter receiving a pass or given room by his defender, as any other usage would rush his mechanics until they break down.
Carter-Williams: 49% at the rim. When MCW made these shots in college, he looked unstoppable. But that happened too infrequently, especially against collegiate competition. On paper, Carter-Williams should be a dynamo near the hoop. What are most guards going to do to stop a guy 6’5” with a 41” vertical when he gets within five feet of the hoop? Apparently, just bump him a little. It takes remarkably little body contact to get MCW to completely contort himself. Perhaps this frailty is why he doesn’t often explode and use his hops when attacking the basket. The result is too few layups finished and too many really bad shots chucked up at strange angles. His sheer physical attributes probably make MCW the best prospect of these three when it comes to finishing at the rim, but that assumes he’ll develop much greater strength and discipline, and requires a healthy dose of faith on top.
Shane Larkin: 52% at the rim. Larkin is a rare athlete, but unfortunately, his stature—both in reach and height—are more than enough to offset his jumping ability and speed. He simply cannot finish near the hoop if contested because any length whatsoever is likely to be too much for him. To compensate for this he tries to go even faster than his normally hyper game, and often gets up in the air fairly far from the hoop, hoping to glide in a layup before the defense can react. He’s often caught in the air because of this, which results in wild, unwise shots and lost passing lanes. While Larkin’s speed means he can get to the rim almost at will, NBA teams shouldn’t mind that at all, because even a modest rim protector will prove too great an obstacle for Larkin to finish over. He is also frightfully easy prey for a help defender when in the paint. Of these three players, Larkin will be the least apt finisher in the paint unless he abandons full out darts through the lane for slick floaters, which doesn’t seem likely.
Dennis Schroeder: 51% at the rim. Schroeder is really quick and incredibly nimble with his dribble, so getting to the hoop isn’t a problem. Finishing there often is, however. He doesn’t jump much at the hoop, preferring to glide to the rim using his speed and then stretch out a long arm to try to create an angle for a scoop shot. Even with his long arms (6’7.25” wingspan, nearly as long as Gordon Hayward), he is often blocked. When he does get the shot off, he’s often moving so fast so near to the floor, and releasing the ball relatively low, that he gives himself a poor trajectory to the hoop and really depends on spinning the ball to get it in the hoop. With more experience I suspect he will learn that his long arms work well reaching upward and not just sideways, particularly when combined with a vertical leap, and will become a passable finisher at the rim. Expecting more than that is likely betting against the odds.