Sunday, June 25, 2000

Top point guards in the NBA Draft




By Mike DeCourcy
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        1. Erick Barkley, 6-foot, 185, St. John's. There is a quality about Barkley, the way he controls a ball and a game, that is reminscent of Utah Jazz star John Stockton. Barkley will have to develop the same sort of maturity over time, but his teams won 76 percent of their games in college, and he was the primary reason. Barkley advances the ball as quickly as you can ask. He needs to improve as a long-distance shooter and probably can be more insistent about creating opportunities for teammates, but his assist numbers were depressed by a lack of post scorers at SJU.

        2. Mateen Cleaves, 6-2, 205, Michigan State. His curious shooting form led many to declare him a poor pro prospect, but Cleaves' 12-3 NCAA Tournament record was no accident. He commands the attention of his team, understands the flow of a game and has finishing skills only the rarest point guards can match. Cleaves is among the best in the game when running a fast break, and he'll be an elite defender. Andre Miller's success in Cleveland should convince doubters that an on-and-off shooter can be a quality point guard.

        3. Jamal Crawford, 6-6, 175, Michigan. Although Crawford has the playmaking skills to be a point guard and ultimately will end up at that spot, he may need the sort of time to develop toward that role that has been accorded former Wolverine Jalen Rose. Crawford is the weakest American player who'll be drafted; that's a given. But as he gets stronger, his handle on the ball and penetration skills will become even more imposing. He still needs to improve his long-range shooting, but he can shoot on the run, which is a valuable skill in the pros.

        4. Speedy Claxton, 5-11, 180, Hofstra. Although his college competition was not as intense, Claxton dominated the America East as he developed his long-range shooting and refined his ability to score after penetrating. Claxton lives up to his name; he was quicker with the ball than any guard at the Chicago pre-draft camp. He needs to improve his ability to work off the pick-and-roll and to become more accustomed to playing with better scorers than himself.

        5. Khalid El-Amin, 5-10, 200, Connecticut. He always looks like he could be in better shape, but El-Amin continually plays better than his body looks. El-Amin demonstrated in Chicago he knows how to operate the pick-and-roll, and that impressed scouts even though his shooting touch failed him. They know from UConn's 1999 title run he can score and play under pressure. He probably will go lower in the draft than Missouri's Keyon Dooling, who is far more impressive physically, but El-Amin could have greater success because he has a greater sense for the game.

        6. Keyon Dooling, 6-3, 184, Missouri.

        7. A.J. Guyton, 6-1, 175, Indiana.

        8. Scoonie Penn, 5-10, 185, Ohio State.

        9. Justin Love, 6-2, 210, Saint Louis.

        10. Eddie Gill, 6-0, 176, Weber State.

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- Top point guards in the NBA Draft
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