Is EG not really getting the respect he deserves or is he just not being "classified" correctly by draft pundits? We start the debate here.
Matt and I both have differing definitions on both some of the elite prospects in this draft and also how to classify them. Matt seems to think Jerryd Bayless and Eric Gordon are "combo guards," meaning they will essentially play off the ball until the half court is set and then primarily be used for slashing or in ISO situations, i.e. they are not points. He thinks O.J. Mayo is a "big guard," meaning roughly the same, but with an even greater likelihood that such a type of guard will spend even more time off the ball and only be used at the point in relief for a primary point.
I project them quite differently. In fact, I rank them a lot differently than a lot of the blogosphere does. I think Bayless is pretty much a point guard, with great scoring skills. Sure, he isn't a "pure" point like say, D.J. Augustin, but I think he is more of one than we saw in a shoddy Arizona system last year. I think Mayo is headed towards being an exceptional off guard, who can certainly handle the point throughout a game -- not unlike a Wade (even though we all know and agree Wade is much better off the ball). Then, there is Gordon. Most see him as solely a two guard who will have the ball in his hands extremely infrequently, namely when he is trying to iso his guy. But, in a lot of internet chats, alot more people are classifying all of these guys in roughly the same general category. If that is the case, then it is perfectly fine.
That being the case, here is where my problem lies (let's take Mayo out, as I feel his size and length make him an exception). If Bayless and Gordon are regularly being compared for the same basic position in the league, why in the world is Bayless getting all the credit (as high as 3 in some mocks), while Gordon is much further down the lottery (in some cases, even on the fringe). They were all measured and worked out this past weekend in Florida and Gordon came away the clear winner between he and Bayless. He is taller, bulkier, stronger and outran him by a slightly significant margin in the agility and pace drills. If NBA execs project them in the same position, why the hurt on Gordon. I could argue that his handle is just as good, his passing isn't much worse. He is tougher to stop, namely because he is an absolute freight train going to the whole, while Bayless spends much, much more time out on the perimeter. Gordon's shooting percentages weren't as good, but it's more because his shot selection (and the insouciance of Kelvin Sampson to form any dynamic offensive structure) rather than bad technique that cast a negative eye on his perimeter game. Arizona's system (even in this one season under Kevin O'Neill) has always been engineered to run and gun with great perimeter talent. Sampson has always done better with bangers, rebounders and defensive minded guards. Could it really be the Indiana system that is causing Gordon to yo-yo up and down the draft boards? Is it because so many people refuse to categorize Bayless and Gordon seperately, where they belong? I'm not really sure, but unless Bayless (widely projected to go to the Sonics at 4) is not destined to be a point guard, then why not give a greater look at a guard with just as tough a handle and with better physical skills.
Again, I am not trying to knock Bayless. Nor am I the conductor for the Eric Gordon Bandwagon. But really, unless the folks out there scouting see him projected as mainly a point guard as I do, then this seemingly great disparity is ridiculous (and not in the way out blog title suggests). Also, its not like anyone knows what Sam Presti is truly thinking and what he will do with this pick and with his team. He has kept pretty quiet about the direction he will take in the draft. Maybe its simply because Gordon looks chunkier and less athletic than the ultra trim Bayless. But when a kid is bigger, faster and stronger than his direct comparison and yet has all of the same handle, ball and defensive skills, why is he not given the recognition? I think we might see a greater debate rise between these two as the draft evaluations progress. Just don't be surprised if your team's fans are booing like a bunch of ghosts when Gordon goes to them way higher than projected. And be less surprised when they are praising him for his toughness, intensity and under-appreciated skill a few months into the season.