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UNC Alum Marcus Paige Looks To Transition To D-League

After recently being cut by the Utah Jazz, former North Carolina guard Marcus Paige looks to make the transition to the NBADL

NBA: Utah Jazz-Media Day Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning, the Utah Jazz announced that they waived forward Eric Dawson, wing Quincy Ford and guard Marcus Paige. These moves trimmed the Jazz’s pre-season roster down to 17 players. At this point, the Jazz only have one training camp invite left on the roster with former Nets and 76ers center Henry Sims, the team will have to make some tough decisions as we get closer to the regular season.

Among the players that have already moved away from the Jazz roster, the most intriguing name has to be Marcus Paige. For one, Paige is the first 2016 NBA Draft pick to be released by his team, as Paige was picked by Utah with their 52nd pick. Another reason behind Paige’s intrigue is how he stood as arguably one of the best guards in the history of North Carolina basketball.

That label was due to Paige being an extremely versatile guard, that could contribute as a facilitator, cutter and perimeter shooter. As a facilitator, Paige remained relatively efficient throughout his UNC career, as he maintained a solid 2.20 Ast/TO ratio. The height of Paige’s work as a facilitator was during his senior season where he averaged 3.76 assists per game with a 3.05 Ast/TO ratio. Paige was able to be such a solid facilitator due to his incredible confidence, which you can see in the clip below where he makes a great cross-court feed to Justin Jackson.

Transitioning to his work as a scoring threat, Paige has stood as one of the best scoring threats in the entire ACC since his sophomore season. During that season, Paige just lit it up by averaging 17.5 points on 44% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc. Those averages allowed Paige to have an impressive 59% True Shooting Percentage(TS%). That efficiency maintained during his junior season, where he averaged 14 points on 41% from the field and 39% from the perimeter, which rounds out to a solid 57% TS%.

Unfortunately, a fractured right hand prevented Paige from truly shining during his senior season. The injury kept Paige for the first month of the college season, and it arguably took him a few months before he was truly healthy. That claim is backed up by how Paige struggled immensely during conference play, as he averaged 11.1 points on an atrocious 35% from the field and 28% from beyond the arc.

Fortunately the tides turned once the NCAA Tournament began as Paige led North Carolina to the National Championship game by putting up 15 points and 4 assists per game on 42% from the field and 49% from beyond the arc. That NCAA Tournament dominance was capped off by an unforgettable title game performance against Villanova. Although he put up pretty good numbers (21 points and 6 assists on 7-17 shooting), Paige will be remembered by putting North Carolina on the heels of an NCAA Tournament win with this shot.

But then Kris Jenkins happened:

Despite that heart-breaking defeat, Paige was able to use that performance to display his versatile offensive arsenal. Against Villanova, Paige displayed his ability to confidently score both as a perimeter shooter and on-ball cutter.

As a perimeter shooter, Paige truly shines due to his quick and pretty shooting stroke. Over the course of his college career, Paige showed an ability to both shoot off-the-dribble and through catch-and-shoots. In both instances, Paige’s jumper just looks extremely effortless, an example you can see in the play below.

Transitioning into his work as an on-ball cutter, Paige shows plenty of flashes but needs to work on becoming efficient. Those flashes are seen by Paige being able to utilize a blistering quick first step to move past most opponents. After that initial first step, Paige can either drive to the paint with his left or right hand. That finishing ability is seen in the clip below, as Paige makes a sharp cut to the paint and is able to score despite directing contact.

However, the former UNC guard has been rather inefficient from around the rim. During his senior season, Paige shot an inefficient 50% from inside the paint, according to Hoop-Math.

Despite some of those apparent flaws, Paige still stands as a player to keep an eye on during the upcoming season. After being waived by the Utah Jazz, it’s very likely that Marcus Paige will stick in that area to play with the D-League’s Salt Lake City Stars. Due to his versatile offensive game and terrific basketball IQ, there’s no doubt that Paige should have plenty of success in the NBA D-League. That D-League success could ultimately led Paige to make a smooth transition into the NBA