This article features the best shooting guards in the NBA age 23 and younger as part of our Emerging Stars series.
1. Devin Booker
For the second straight year Devin Booker occupies the top spot in the League’s emerging shooting guard rankings. Booker has established himself as one of the NBA’s premier young scoring threats after posting career highs in efficiency and averaging 24.9 points per game.
An encouraging growth in Booker’s game is his development as the pick and roll ball handler. In Year 3, 28.2% of Booker’s possessions came running the pick and roll and those resulted in 0.848 points per possession (PPP) per Synergy. This is an improved mark from .778 PPP on 26.7% of Booker’s possessions in 2016-17. Booker can be even better as he learns to make better reads in the pick and roll, as he is a below average passer at this point and he coughed it up 19.3% of the time while commanding the screen and roll.
The 22 year old Booker is an advanced scorer who with continued polish to his game will round into a star player worthy of the freshly inked max contract. Brighter times appear to be in the Suns future as Phoenix has started to build an intriguing core around Booker with the arrival of 2018 #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, and Mikal Bridges.
2017-18 Avgs: 24.9 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.5 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG
43.2% FG, 38.3% 3P, 87.8% FT
2. Donovan Mitchell
The true rookie of the year had a stellar first act in Utah, averaging 20 points per game for the fifth seeded Jazz. Mitchell was given a large responsibility by head coach Quin Snyder, with 38.8% of Mitchell’s possessions coming as the pick and roll ball handler. For the season Spida Mitchell ran the 8th most pick and rolls in the NBA, scoring .811 PPP in the pick and roll, a good mark, but one he can certainly grow in.
Mitchell’s production was crucial to a Jazz team that struggles to score at times, and as a rookie he carried a 29.1% usage rating, 18th in the league. Due in part to his large role, Mitchell’s scoring efficiency needs to improve going forward, as he shot 43% overall and 34% from three. As Mitchell improves, his ability to be a pesky defender, highlight reel athlete, and go to scorer makes him a cornerstone for a Jazz team that figures to make noise in the West next year.
All in all, Utah has to be thrilled with nabbing star in the making Donovan Mitchell at 13th overall in 2017.
2017-18 Avgs: 20.5 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG
43.7% FG, 34% 3P, 80.5% FT
3. Jaylen Brown
Jaylen Brown showed in Year 2 that he shouldn’t be forgotten amongst Boston’s plethora of intriguing assets. The 2016 #3 overall pick made major improvements across all statistical categories and was a key performer for Boston on their surprising run to the doorstep of the NBA Finals.
Brown grew as a catch and shoot three point shooter, while also getting out and running the floor in transition. After shooting 34.1% from three his rookie year, Brown jumped to 39.5% on four attempts per game. Brad Stevens was able to utilize Brown in an off ball role as Brown accounted for 1.143 PPP on spot ups, 9th in league for players with at least 250 possessions.
Brown has the athleticism and work ethic to develop into one of the league’s premier wings, and Year 3 looks promising for JB and the Celtics.
2018-18 Avgs: 14.5 PPG, 1.6 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG
46.5 % FG, 39.5% 3P, 64.4% FT
4. Zach Lavine
Lavine was brought along slowly from a torn ACL, with his Bulls debut coming in mid January, followed by 23 appearances, before being shut down in March. The numbers were unimpressive for Lavine last season, 38% from the field, 34 % from three – well below his production in Minnesota.
Lavine has yet to show that his game has the supplementary aspects to go along with his outside shooting and insane bounce. His youth, athleticism, and versatile jump shot give him the upside that the Kings saw in offering Lavine a 4 year 78 million dollar offer sheet, an offer that the Bulls surely felt inclined to match for the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler deal.
Lavine needs to prove in Year 5 that he is more than a volume scorer, that he is capable of contributing to winning basketball, and not allergic to defense as one Chicago restaurant claims. If he is able to make strides in his game, he represents an exciting part of what is becoming a fascinating core in the Windy City.
2017-18 Avgs: 16.7 PPG, 3.0 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG
38.3% FG, 34.1 % 3P, 81.3% FT
5. Luke Kennard
Kennard was taken one pick ahead of Mitchell in the 2017 draft and while he lacks All star upside, snagging a player that can hit 41% of his threes is good value in the late lottery.
Kennard played only 20 minutes a game for the Pistons last season, but the 6’5″ Duke product was one of the best spot up players in the NBA. Of players with at least 115 spot up possessions, Kennard ranked 7th with 1.278 PPP. Kennard has the makings of an elite catch and shoot option in the Korver/Reddick mold, and he was 4th in the NBA (min 140 poss.) with 1.352 PPP on catch and shoot opportunities.
New coach Dwayne Casey must get creative to take advantage of Kennard’s versatile skill set, as he can move well without the ball, set up teammates, and work the in between game for mid-rangers and floaters. If Kennard develops a nice chemistry with skilled frontcourt passers Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, he should fill a valuable role as floor spacer in Casey’s offense.
2018-19 Avgs: 7.6 PPG, 1.7 APG, 2.4 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG
44.3% FG, 41.5 3P, 85.5% FT
For those of us who watched the dynamic scoring outbursts that Monk produced in his one season at Kentucky, last season in Charlotte looked quite different. Drafted 9th overall for his ability to get buckets and produce highlight reel plays in transition, Monk turned in an injury riddled and inefficient rookie season.
With a .458 true shooting percentage and chuck first mindset, Monk quickly found himself in Steve Clifford’s doghouse. Monk has a tendency to overdribble and not look for teammates, ranking as one of the worst pick and roll players in the league last season. Monk finished in the 25th percentile as a the lead ball handler in the screen and roll, accounting for only .679 PPP, well below average.
Malik was miscast a in a backup point guard role for large parts of last season, but with a new coach and Tony Parker in town, Malik can get himself in more favorable spots. Monk was better in an off the ball role, and if he can work more in quicker actions or catch and shoot he will see more success next season. The upside of Monk is still there as a high level shooter and explosive athlete, provided he can wipe the slate clean from a disastrous Year 1.
2017-18 Avgs: 6.7 PPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 RPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG
36.0% FG, 34.2% 3P, 84.2% FT