This year Eric Maynor and Patty Mills are the en vogue mid-major points. Mills has the advantage of his brilliant run in the Olympic Games last year, while Maynor has thrown together several nice tournament performances to help his case. Maynor on the surface has appeared to be more of a fit in the traditional point guard role, while Mills quickness allows him to score easier. But for a team in need of a point guard like the Bucks (possibly), are either of them worth the risk?
The above list is first round mid-major point guard picks since 1999 (Excluding 2007 and 2008 drafts, it’s just too early to tell). I included Telfair because he was facing mid-major competition in high school. Ten guys with varying results. Without question Andre Miller has had the most successful career of the aforementioned players with Jameer Nelson inching closer each year. There doesn’t seem to be a specific blueprint on what translates ones mid-major college success into prolonged NBA success. Miller has been one of the worst shooting point guards in the league since his entry, but has made up for that by looking exactly like Richard Pryor in addition to having great size and terrific vision.
College teammates Nelson and Delonte West have thrived playing with incredible talents. West has taken well to spotting up outside the arc waiting for Lebron to dish to him and defending with great zeal at the other end. Nelson has taken a few years to develop but his defense has been catching up to his natural shooting ability. He was voted an all-star for the first time this year largely thanks to the open shots he gets by playing with Dwight Howard. While neither is a pure point guard they both fell into the right situations. West can play like a two for large portions of the game because Lebron handles the ball so much. Nelson is enough of a point guard to lob the ball up for Howard or keep it moving around the perimeter for Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, but if they really need a playmaker they can give it to Turkoglu and let Nelson move off the ball.
I would say the one thing that the more successful guys on this list had in common was above average athleticism or shooting ability. It sounds stupid to say, but a lot of times the key to sticking in the league and being successful is being really good at something. Yes, everyone in the NBA is really good at something, but if a player has a specific skill that they do better than most guys they have a great shot at sticking around. Miller has an incredible basketball IQ, Nelson is a very good shooter and from all accounts a great leader too. He gets the guys together every off-season in Philly to work-out and grow as players together. Speedy Claxton made a living off being speedy. Then he blew out his knee and none of his other skills were good enough.
Mardy Collins was a professional goon. That would explain his presence on the Clippers. Jerryl Sasser and Marcus Banks? They weren’t really good at anything. Actually disregard that. Banks had a nice half season with Minnesota and played that into a big contract to back-up Steve Nash, even though he wasn’t very good. So he was good at something: hiring the right agent. Sasser was just one of those mythical tall point guards that were all the rage for some time. He probably now hangs out with Reece Gaines and Julius Hodge wondering what went wrong.
So the question becomes then, are Maynor and Mills good at anything?
Maynor has shown incredible ball hawk and clutch shot prowess in his short stints on national television. His classic performance in the CAA tournament a few years ago was one that will not soon be forgotten by fans and GM’s alike. He did it again in the NCAA’s that year against Duke and nearly thrilled once more in this past year’s tournament against UCLA. So much for shriveling under pressure.
Meanwhile, Mills spent his summer last year blowing by Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd whenever he felt like it in the Olympics. Actually it was just in the exhibition game. The actual game that counted he was contained much better. Still impressive!
So both guys have some serious skill. I don’t think we’ll have any Jerryl Sasser or Sebastian Telfair problems here. Scouts and pundits alike seem to like Maynor more be it his polish, size or whatever the reason may be. He’s in contention at ten for the Bucks. Mills looks like he’ll find a place later in the first round, though he could move up if he shows something he wasn’t able to show at the end of the year after suffering an injury.
Regardless I’d look for both these guys to be productive for years to come. In a draft like this that might be something worth looking at with pick number ten.