CSNPhilly.com will provide position previews each week leading up to the NBA Draft on June 27, ranking the top five prospects at each position. First up: point guards.
This draft isn't stocked with top-flight floor generals, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for the Sixers, since Jrue Holiday is the only sure thing on the team's roster.
I have the 76ers taking Lehigh's C.J. McCollum with the 11th pick in the CSNPhilly.com mock draft (see story). I don't consider McCollum a pure point guard, though - he's more of a combo guard that will play both guard spots at the next level. He'll be included in next week's rankings of shooting guards.
1. Trey Burke, 6-1/190, Michigan
I believe Burke will end up as one of the five best players in this draft. He is athletic, intelligent and - most importantly - fearless. He helped his draft stock tremendously during Michigan's run to the national championship game. His 30-foot three-point shot to send Michigan's regional semifinal against Kansas into overtime was as clutch as you'll see in the college game. Burke is not afraid of the moment and has the skills to match his confidence. He's got that trait NBA executives look for in point guards: the ability to get his teammates involved while having no trouble scoring himself. Burke averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists as a sophomore last season, shooting 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three-point range. He could go as high as No. 2 to the Magic, and will go no lower than No. 7 to the Kings.
2. Michael Carter-Williams, 6-5/185, Syracuse
Carter-Williams will most likely be a lottery pick, but I'm not sold on his ability to excel at the NBA level. He drifts in and out of games, and his shooting numbers are atrocious. Carter-Williams shot 39 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range at Syracuse last season. He could have used another year of seasoning in college; he barely played as a freshman before taking over the starting point guard spot as a sophomore. There certainly are some positives with Carter-Williams - namely his size, athleticism and assist numbers. He averaged 7.3 assists and 2.8 steals last season, and he picked up his offensive game significantly during Syracuse's run to the Final Four. His skill set calls to mind Rajon Rondo. If he even approaches Rondo's level, he'll be a terrific find for whichever team selects him in the Nos. 9-15 range.
3. Shane Larkin, 6-1/175, Miami
Larkin burst onto the national radar last season as a sophomore. He averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 assists and shot just under 48 percent from the field while leading Miami to 29 wins, an ACC regular-season and tournament championship, and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Larkin was the driving force behind the best season in the history of University of Miami basketball. The pros and cons with Larkin are clear cut: He is an explosive athlete, but lacks the prototypical size scouts look for in a NBA point guard. He has strong bloodlines working in his favor - Larkin's father, Barry, was a Hall of Fame shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds for 19 seasons. Expect Larkin to be selected in the Nos. 18-25 range in the first round.
4. Dennis Schroeder, 6-2/170, Germany
The Tony Parker comparison is almost too easy here given Schroeder's size, skill set, European pedigree and the fact that he enters the NBA as a teenager. He's coming off a strong showing in April's Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, where he scored 18 points and handed out six assists to lead the World team to a win over the United States. Schroeder has tremendous ball-handling skills and court vision, but needs to improve his shooting stroke to keep defenders honest. He will be a solid-value pick late in the first round. Parker was the 28th pick in 2001 and is well on his way to the Hall of Fame. Schroeder will gladly accept that same career arc.
5. Isaiah Canaan, 6-1/195, Murray State
Canaan is similar to Damian Lillard, last season's NBA rookie of the year. He's a shoot-first point guard who put up big numbers at a mid-major college. Canaan averaged 21.8 points as a senior at Murray State, one year after averaging 19 points while leading the Racers to a No. 6 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. His size is a concern, but his athletic ability is not. Nor is his leadership - Canaan did a lot of winning at the college level. The biggest question mark is whether he can tailor his mindset to become more of a facilitator. Canaan could sneak into the tail end of the first round, but will most likely be a second-round pick.
Sleeper: Ray McCallum, 6-3/190, Detroit
I'm a big fan of McCallum's potential to be an NBA point guard. He was a McDonald's All-American in high school but chose Detroit over bigger-name colleges so he could play for his father, Ray Sr. McCallum averaged 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists as a junior last season in the Horizon League. He brought his talents to North Philadelphia last February - registering 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a tight loss to Temple. McCallum has the size, skills and mentality to succeed in the NBA. He will be a steal for someone in the second round.