Take Your Pick: Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, John Wall or Brandon Jennings?
Which young dynamic would you rather have: Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Brandon Jennings or John Wall?
Tommy Beer, HoopsWorld: For me, it comes down to a close call between D-Rose and Westbrook. Brandon Jennings
and John Wall both have undeniable upside, but still carry too much risk. Jennings shot a putrid 37 percent from the floor last season, which scares me away; and Wall has all the talent in the world but rookies inevitably experience peaks and valleys. I think excessive turnovers and a poor FG% will be issues Wall deals with during his first season in the pros.
Rose and Westbrook are very similar in that their "real-life" value dwarfs their fantasy value. Thus, they'll probably be drafted earlier than they should in 9-category leagues. Outside of scoring and assists, Rose and Westbrook don't help much in the other categories that guards tend to excel in, such as three-pointers. Rose shot 26 percent from three-point land last season and made a total of just 16 threes all year. As a point of comparison, Stephen Curry nailed more threes in his final five games than D-Rose had all season. (However, word out of the Windy City is that Rose has spent all season working on his long-range jumper.) Despite a 'breakout' season that saw Russell Westbrook draw plenty of praise as he helped lead his Thunder squad to the postseason and a classic first-round showdown with the L.A. Lakers in round one – Westbrook finished the 2009-2010 season as the overall 111th ranked player in 9-cat leagues. The primary reasons for Westbrook's low ranking were due to his awful FG% (41.9%) and his lack of range (he shot just 22 percent from three-point territory – making only 23 three's all year). Moreover, he averaged 3.3 turnovers per game (only eight players turned the ball over more often).
I have both players ranked closely in my Top-100 overall, but I have Rose ranked a few spots higher – so I'll roll with Rose.
Eric Wong, RotoEvil.com: I'll take the guy who played in all 82 games last year and ranked 8th in assists and 26th in steals. I'll take the guy who plays with the #1 scorer in the league and doesn't turn 22 until November. I'll take the guy who's a career 80 percent free-throw shooter and gets to the line quite often. I'll take the guy who's going to rank in the Top 3 among all point guards in both rebounds and blocks, and I'll take the guy with blazing speed, long arms, and ridiculous hops. That guy is Russell Westbrook, and I expect him to outproduce Rose, Wall, and Jennings. Naysayers will point to Russell's poor shooting from the field, but if you look closer you'll see that Russ made a decent 44 percent of his shots after the All-Star break. He's certainly improving in that category, and his FG% will surely be better than both Jennings and Wall. And while Rose is both a more efficient and more prolific scorer, he won't come close to matching Westbrook's prowess on the defensive end.
Greg Fox, Damn Lies and Statistics: Point guards typically fly off draft boards rather early, maybe even a little too early, as the clamor for assists often trumps poor shooting percentages. Case in point, Brandon Jennings. The crooked shooting Buck is going to go in the top 60 of most drafts, but that first 2-for-15 is going to be a duodenum-churning wake-up call for his reeling owners. I'm staying away until the eighth round or so. I love Rose's potential to explode on what should be a vastly improved Bulls team. Last season, a sprained ankle kept his numbers at a pedestrian level for the first two months, before becoming a nightly 20-4-8 threat with an outstanding field goal percentage. Expect plenty of monster outings this season, but his lack of steals and threes renders him a late-fourth, early-fifth round selection. He has been working on his long-range game, so maybe we'll see an uptick in made threes. I love Russell Westbrook. This is the kind of player an NBA team can build around. A leader, a terrific athlete, a hard-nosed defender, unselfish; everything a team could want in a lead guard. Like Rose, the scoring, rebounding and assists should be there, but I've been expecting a few more thefts (1.3 last season) and Westbrook's marksmanship (.418), or lack thereof, is troubling. He's still a third-round guy in my book, but for my money, I'm going with the rook. John Wall, like King James seven years previous, is NBA-ready at the tender age of 20. He is an absolute jet with the ball and has the size (6-4) and ability to make opposing point guards call in sick with claims of botulism from the pregame meal. Within weeks, Agent Zero will become obsolete and when 2010-11 is said and done, we'll be looking at a minimum 16-4-7 with 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks, 0.5 threes and so-so percentages. This may be the only year of his career that he is not a first-round pick. I'm buying.
Steve Alexander, RotoWorld: I would rank these four point guards in this order:
1. Derrick Rose
2. Russell Westbrook
3. John Wall
4. Brandon Jennings
Rose should hit some threes this year and wants to become the best point guard, if not the best player, in the league. Can he do it? I doubt it, but he should be a very solid fantasy point guard and then have a big year.
Westbrook doesn't shoot threes, has field goal percentage issues, and will turn it over, but he doesn't miss games, is lightning quick and also a triple-double threat every night out.
Wall is running the show in Washington and will battle Blake Griffin for ROY. His shooting and TOs are a concern, but the sky's the limit.
Jennings plays for Scott Skiles, which still scares me a little. Chris Douglas-Roberts is also going to get some run and possibly limit Jennings. That said, he's still going to be fun guy to own this season, but he is a notch below the aforementioned three young guns.
Jeff Andriesse, Damn Lies and Statistics: If you decide to wait until after the first couple of rounds to grab your point guard, you're going to get someone with flaws. Westbrook is one of the NBA's unsung superstars and the most likely out of these four to light up the box score on a regular basis. While his shooting percentage and turnovers are his weak spots, he should average the most assists and rebounds of the four. He is also good for nearly 1.5 steals and a solid free throw percentage. Playing monster minutes with Kevin Durant every night guarantees him solid numbers, something along the lines of 17.0 points, 5.0 boards and 8.0 assists. Rose comes with a better offensive game but needs to prove he can dish it like an elite point guard and he doesn't steal the ball or shoot the three. Wall is going to be very exciting but also probably inconsistent and inefficient in his rookie season. Jennings takes a dive in roto formats because of his poor field goal percentage, but if he matures he could take a step toward Westbrook's averages in his second season. The bottom line is Westbrook is the most refined, but with room still to grow and possessing a toughness on the boards and defensive end that the other three have yet to show.
Andre Snellings, RotoWire: I'll take Jennings. This is the most difficult one we've done so far, because I can actually make arguments for the others that could just about convince me, but I think Jennings has the best combination of upside and production. Rose and Westbrook have already shown that they can be good scorers and assist men. Rose has better shooting percentages, Westbrook the better rebounding potential. But neither has shown the ability to knock down the trey nor get as many steals as I'd like. Wall has the potential to be a steals magnet this year along with his role in a fun-and-gun offense, but he also lacks the proven 3-ball and is likely to shoot a low percentage. Jennings has already gone through his rookie season, and I expect him to score more efficiently this year. Plus, he can knock down a lot of treys and is more of a distributor as well so I wouldn't be surprised if he leads this group in assists. In addition, Jennings has been going later in drafts than the other three in my experience, and I think he provides the best value for the buck of the group.
MY TAKE: There you have it. Our experts have chosen all four of the young point guards. Jennings and Wall each got one vote, while Rose and Westbrook each took two votes apiece. The points are all valid. I think each of these guys has the potential to greatly outperform their ADP, but if I had to choose one I think I would lean toward Westbrook. I like his assists and steals. I know that he, like Rose, doesn't hit many threes, but that to me is a category I can fill elsewhere later in the draft. Once you hit the mid rounds you start losing high-assist and high-scoring players. That's probably why I would lean Westbrook and then Rose. If it were a 9-category league I would have to bump Rose up ahead of him. Snellings makes a good point about draft position with Jennings, so in terms of value, yeah, you are getting a dynamic point guard with great upside about four or five rounds later than the others. Wall is a bit of an unknown right now, though he could have a Tyreke Evans kind of season, moving way up in value. A tough decision, but right now I'm leaning Westbrook.