Before we get into the four backcourt prospects we'll be analyzing for the NBA Draft, let's play a little game. Below is a table with all four, names removed, showing some key statistical points. The number in bold is the statistically best of the group. Based on the numbers, size and age, which output profile would you best vote for?
As you can see, Player 4 in Orange is by far the highest volume scorer of the group, as well as the most efficient. Player 2 is a great combination of shooter and creator, while Player 1 comes off as more of a slasher and defender. Player 3 is a hybrid of them all, with a highly impressive A:TO ratio and no glaring negatives in his overall statistical portfolio.
The reveal of names may not surprise you much, but does the awareness of who they are change what your perception of that prospect is?
This article will breeze through all four and show what grades and draft range I'd predict for each. My biggest takeaway after diving into the film on all four: Malachi Flynn is a really, really well-rounded basketball player. Those are the guys who I tend to value most, especially knowing he comes from a successful season at San Diego State.
One of the main reasons Dotson was listed with his statistical profile first is that he clearly grades the lowest in my book from a production standpoint. The eye-test doesn't redeem a whole lot either.
To start with the end analysis, Dotson is a fringe draft pick in my book, someone better served finding the right situation through the G-League and a place that can work on his jumper. From his freshman season (36.2% from 3) to his sophomore (30.9% on higher volume), Dotson saw a bit of a drop-off, but wasn't a very inspiring shooter to begin with. At 6'2", that shot becomes critical to him finding success in the NBA. His role will be akin to Ish Smith until he develops that shot.
Guys in his shoes are borderline draftable, depending on how much faith the drafting team has in A). ability to fix his jumper and/ or B). value of his impact despite being a subpar shooter.
There are plenty of things Dotson does well:
The speed jumps out at you because it shows up in every facet of his game. He's brilliant in the full court with his blazing quickness, and he has some of the shiftiest slow-to-fast arsenals in the NCAA. It's a useful skill, and one that'll generate open looks for as long as he plays.
Dotson is a hell of an on-ball defender, combining that quickness with great instincts. He pressures the ball, makes intelligent jump switches, knows when and how to gamble and isn't shy about taking on important defensive assignments. He's a disruptor, and his disruption generates so many transition baskets.
The issue is that Dotson is overly reliant on his speed to save him. I'm not sure there's enough nuance to make up for it.
When teams go under ball screens, his most effective counter is to go as fast as he can and sprint past the defense. It might not serve him well in the NBA.
When he gets going to the rim, he has to keep sprinting and going full speed ahead. The lack of deceleration, along with the jumper, are the two biggest needs for growth in his game.
They're both pretty big deals:
The appeal of Dotson is understandable. He's a great defender and blazingly quick, and likely a little underrated in terms of his passing. If he figures out a jump shot and becomes more consistent from 3-point range, he's got it figured out.
It's not like Dotson is this putrid shooter, either. He's above 30 percent, which is higher than lottery prospects like Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball or Isaac Okoro. But Dotson doesn't have their natural gifts, nor a discernible trait in the half-court that makes him compensate for the jumper's absence. He's in a ball-dominant role without being exceptional in one area to mandate the ball.
A preference is towards point guards who can shoot and don't get disrupted by teams going under ball screens. I also don't have a lot of faith in Dotson's shooting mechanics being easily workable. Those factors might lead me to shy away from taking Dotson with any draft pick, though there are plenty of natural, unteachable, attractive skills he has.
If someone feels comfortable enough with what he offers or the upside of his jumper, he's a certifiable mid-second guy.
The Michigan State Spartan stands out as a winner with a vibrant personality and a lovable charisma. Through trials and tribulations this past season, Winston went out a winner in East Lansing. He's one of the more polished players in this class, with a great mid-range feel, crafty pick-and-roll tactics and an understanding of his limitations.
He's versatile enough to be good in on-ball or off-ball situations. Winston shot very well on catch-and-shoots this past season and can carve up anyone through the PNR. He played in a league with the best interior defenders in the country and still managed to finish more than half his attempts at the rim.
But there are some worries with Winston moving forward. A few things stood out about his time at Michigan State that will be difficult to mask in the NBA.
The first is how, offensively, Winston struggled when guarded by length. He isn't overly quick, so he doesn't blow past bigger guys or maintain his advantage once he gets it. They alter his shots frequently and he wasn't very effective at attacking switches.
The biggest worry, however, is on the defensive end. Winston's lack of size is a concern there, and he doesn't move his feet quite well enough to make up for it. He's not a glaring negative on that end, but he isn't versatile and doesn't provide a ton of juice at the point of attack.
Winston is getting some attention in mock drafts as a fringe first-round guy.
Frankly, I don't see it for a 23-year-old who is only 6'0".
The wishful thinking on his behalf places Winston, an incredibly polished point guard who can score or facilitate, as a win-now piece who can immediately contribute on a team with title aspirations. That analysis isn't wrong, per se, but in my opinion it overhypes the value of already being close to your ceiling.
Most guys who get attention late in the first-round as immediate impact players still have a higher ceiling to reach and upside left in the tank. From a skill and IQ standpoint, Winston is pretty close to maxed out.
He's a very good player, but if there's one thing this article proves its that there are many guys who can have a similar statistical output and be deserving of draft consideration. What Winston offers an NBA franchise isn't overwhelmingly special, so I wouldn't look at him until somewhere in the later part of the second round.
To me, Flynn is the cream of the crop in this group of four. He's well-rounded in how he impacts the game and has few skill-driven flaws. He's a major competitor, too, and is the best mix between measurable defense and versatile offense.
Those are the traits I look for in a potential backup guard who can spot a higher role down the line.
To start, Flynn was a pick-and-roll maestro at San Diego State. He generated over 40 percent of his offense from the attack and was really successful. To garner that much volume and still be efficient is a testament to how well he sees the game and rarely forces. His great turnover rate, as well as being efficient as a scorer in every shot zone, are evidence of that.
At San Diego State, Flynn played on a team that was second-best nationally in catch-and-shoot effectiveness. They all shot the ball well, Flynn created and shared it, and thrived because of the spacing they provided. He also contributed to that number, getting his teammates plenty of wide open looks.
Flynn aided that number with his fantastic shooting as well. There's a part of his game that reminds me of George Hill because he can be so good in an off-ball role and is the perfect point guard to pair with a star wing. His mechanics off screens are fluid and sound, and he has truly deep shooting range– by far deepest of this group.
Let's not gloss over the fact he was the Mountain West Defensive POY this season and is a tireless athlete. He has the quickest hands for on-ball steals I've seen in a long, long time and will be a nightmare for other point guards trying to initiate offense.
Flynn's fiery play style and high level of skill only mask so much. He's a subpar vertical athlete and doesn't have a great first step, instead relying on craft and multiple jabs and screens to leverage himself open. There's an understandable doubt about how much his playmaking will be handicapped by a lack of ability to get into the lane.
While I love Flynn's game, he's too replaceable to be a first-round prospect in my book. I'd look at him in the early part of the second round if I were in need of a backup point guard. He's serviceable immediately and can be a solid eight-to-fourteen minutes a night. His best place might be in Europe where he can have an MVP-like impact and not worry as much about the athleticism.
Large segments of NBA Draft Twitter have come campaigning for Riller to be a first-round prospect. From Zach Milner of The Stepien to Sam Veccine of The Athletic, pundits from all over love Riller's scoring ability.
He's a very good scorer, with prolific finishing metrics, solid shooting clips and an overall bulldozer mentality that is easy to love. He had the ball in his hands at all times at College of Charleston, and did produce more times than not:
Mentality is a huge part of this process in my book. College players, according to Billy Donovan, are either going to:
His specialty is scoring, still the most valuable skill in the game of basketball. But whether he falls into category 2 or category 3 depends on how he adjusts to not having the ball in his hands and being depended upon for the whole game.
Riller is a serial over-dribbler. He over-penetrates, tries to go 1-on-4 too frequently and misses open teammates. He as the potential to be a good playmaker and facilitator, but there's also evidence that he's a little too scoring-minded.
Dealing with those adjustments while being a subpar defender doesn't give me enough confidence to look at Riller with a first-round selection. In fact, he's more of a 45-60 guy than someone to consider in the 30s.
Scoring is a valuable skill, though I'm not sure too many teams need a ton of it on their bench. And if they do, they can find it from veteran journeymen or assailants on the market. Those guys don't suck up valuable draft picks and also fill those important low-cost roster spots. At 23, there's a real barrier to how high I'd draft Riller, despite the recognition he's a good player and a very, very good scorer.