The 2017 NBA Draft is rich with talent up and down the board. The point guard position is one that stands out as a particularly bountiful spot. Much of the attention has gone to four point guards; Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, and Dennis Smith – all coming off their freshman seasons. Frank Ntilikina, from France, has also been highly rated. While all five of these point guards deserve the consideration they are getting, there are also a few point guards who are flying under the radar.
On some draft boards, the next tier of point guards are all Frank – Ntilikina, Frank Jackson, and Frank Mason. But there are three other floor generals who warrant an honest look.
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
Since arriving as a freshman at Oklahoma State two years ago, there has been one constant with Jawun Evans: No one can stay in front of him. Evans is lightning-quick with the ball in his hands a la draft classmate De’Aaron Fox. His killer crossover and ability to get to his spots always allowed him to score in the Big 12. But his improvements from his first college season to his sophomore year are what makes him so intriguing. Evans markedly improved his passing, and his creating for others helped drive the Cowboys to the top ranked offense in the nation. Evans is a fine distance shooter who keeps the defense honest by converting on just over 40% of his career 3-point attempts. He is adept at forcing turnovers on defense. Holding Evans back is that he is a little undersized, and he will have to amp up his defensive tenacity to help make up for that.
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
Watching Gonzaga’s first Final Four appearance, as they marched to the National Championship game, it would be difficult to envision a world where Nigel Williams-Goss does not make it as a professional basketball player. His do-everything attitude and all-around game lifted the Zags to unreached heights and a banner season. Williams-Goss has uncommon strength for a guard, that allows him to absorb contact near the rim and finish. He is unselfish, and a solid rebounder for his position. An underrated defender, Williams-Goss often took on the matchup of the opposition’s best offensive player. Williams-Goss is not a great outside shooter, and his improvement in that area will determine how much of an impact he can have in the NBA.
Monte Morris, Iowa State
Monte Morris, slight in stature and not uber-quick, was never going to be a prized draft pick. All he brings to the floor is steadiness, savvy, and unselfishness. Morris, upon completing his senior year for Iowa State, finished his career with an astoundingly low turnover rate. For his career, Morris averaged 1.4 turnovers per 40 minutes, never averaging more than 1.7 TO per 40 minutes for a season. Considering how many minutes Morris played, and that he was the primary ballhandler for an up-tempo offense, his turnover statistics were amazing. Crafty on both ends of the floor, Morris’ steals vastly outnumbered his turnovers, quite an accomplishment for a major conference point guard. Morris is a good 3-point shooter, fairly nimble, and a smart player. He can be a quality backup point, bringing a steady presence for a second unit on a good NBA team.
Jawun Evans, Nigel Williams-Goss, and Monte Morris can all play in the NBA. At minimum, each can be a serviceable backup point guard. Evans has the best potential of the three, with athleticism and offensive game to keep defenses off balance. Williams-Goss can eventually be a infectious leader who might carve out a long career. Likely to be a second round pick, Morris will not disappoint any team that drafts him.