Ranking the rookie point guards (cont.)
6. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves
Flynn, the No. 6 pick, has been a disappointment. The conventional wisdom is that he's been hamstrung by coach Kurt Rambis' triangle offense, but the numbers don't back it up. Among rookie point guards, only Evans and Jennings have attempted more shots per minute than Flynn (yes, the deadeye Curry shoots less often) and Flynn leads all rookies in turnovers per minute -- triangle or not, he's hardly disengaged from those half-court sets.
Part of the problem is that Flynn is accustomed to freelancing, mostly via a steady diet of high pick-and-rolls. He's lightning-quick and can get to the rim, but his outside shot hasn't been falling often enough (he's shooting 35.8 percent from three point range, and 42.2 percent overall) to make defenses pay for packing the paint against Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Flynn's penetration. Factor in a defensive performance that has been horrible by almost any metric -- the Wolves yield 8.2 more points per 100 possessions when he is on the court -- and you have a player seemingly better suited to trying to supply instant offense and energy off the bench.
Brooks and the scout have a more charitable view.
"I like Jonny Flynn," Brooks said. "He reminds me a lot of myself as far as being what they call a 'shoot-first' point guard. But I look at it as him trying to be a leader and do what it takes to win."
Said the scout: "I agree that he is looking to score, but that roster doesn't have a lot of good shooters, so maybe they need that. My suspicion is that he doesn't see a lot of the court anyway, and that it is a weakness that he is a 'me-first' shooter. But you don't know until that team gets some help."
7. Eric Maynor, Oklahoma City Thunder
Back in mid-November, when Maynor was still in Utah and Deron Williams was sidelined, the rookie from VCU gave the Cavs fits with aggressive penetration, scored a season-high 24 points and earned words of praise and encouragement from LeBron as they walked off the court. But Maynor highlights have been few and far between since then.
A disciplined, pass-first point guard who takes pride in his defense, he was just right for Jerry Sloan but was abruptly sacrificed as part of a salary dump in December. The minutes have been scarce subbing for Russell Westbrook in OKC, and, perhaps as a consequence, Maynor's field-goal percentage has slipped four months in a row. When examined on a 36-minute basis, he is averaging 7.2 assists against only 2.7 turnovers, and has posted positive defensive results for both the Jazz and Thunder. But his abysmal true shooting percentage (46.3) is next to last among the 10 players on this list, and, despite his obvious potential, he is currently a work that's not in progress.
"He is not ultraquick or ultraphysical, but he does have a little savvy and court presence about him," the scout said.
8. Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
The NBA's youngest player (he turns 20 on June 12) has benefited from the chaos and underachievement in Philadelphia, which jump-started a rebuilding project and led to his 31 starts and counting. Holiday's shooting percentage has risen every month and he's now up to 40.2 percent from three-point range (but just 41.4 percent overall) for the season. Like most every aspect of his game, his defense needs seasoning, but giving a rugged, energetic teen like Holiday constant playing time instead of the ghost of Allen Iverson is a rare sign of hope for Sixers fans.
"The question that was being circled was, Why did he come out so early when he didn't have a huge year in college [as a freshman at UCLA]?" the scout said. "He's still a very unfinished product."
9. Rodrique Beaubois, Dallas Mavericks
The dean of NBA point guards, Jason Kidd, calls teammate Beaubois "a point guard I really like. He's going to be a good one." Ironically, Beaubois is nothing like Kidd, a natural point guard who treated hoops like chess even in his youth. The 6-foot, 170-pound French native, nicknamed Roddy Buckets, is more of a shooting guard in a point guard's body who is relying on exuberance instead of guile, leading to boom-or-bust streaks where he can't miss from three-point range or can't stop himself from getting in foul trouble. Beaubois has a scintillating true shooting percentage of 60.9 but is averaging 4.0 assists against 3.1 turnovers per 36 minutes, the smallest differential among these 10 players.
10. Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
The emergence of Sixth Man Award candidate Jamal Crawford as a capable reserve at both backcourt positions has severely cut into Teague's minutes, which peaked at 13.6 per game in December. The 21-year-old Wake Forest product is shooting 36.3 percent, including 22.7 percent from long range. Not even an impressive 6.2 assists/2.5 turnovers split per 36 minutes can atone for that many misses. Like the other players on this list, Teague has potential and time to shore up his weaknesses. But don't expect much more than towel-waving from the sidelines from this rookie come playoff time.
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