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Assessing the 2019 Point Guard Class after Darius Garland’s Injury

Projected lottery pick Darius Garland’s injury will open up the race to be the first point guard selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Basketball Tipoff Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The already thin point guard class for the 2019 NBA Draft took a significant step back after Vanderbilt’s talented freshman Darius Garland suffered a season-ending meniscus injury. If he declares for the draft, Garland will still be a favorite to be selected in the lottery. But his injury will open up the competition for other point guards looking to make a splash in front of NBA talent evaluators.

Point guards Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were all selected in the first 14 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft. The chances of three facilitators being selected in 2019’s lottery appear to be much slimmer at this point in the process, but that shouldn’t detract from the bevy of attractive prospects available on draft night.

For this post, we will look at the non-Garland options that will be looking to make a splash.

Rising Stars

Ja Morant | Murray State

Morant has surpassed the 20-point threshold in all four of his outings to start the 2018-19 season. His size and athleticism are what NBA scouts covet, but he still needs to improve his decision making when facing top-level talent. Morant’s 38-point outburst against Alabama was impressive, but his 10 turnovers were a contributing factor in Murray State’s only loss.

With Garland out, Morant’s small-school status becomes less of an issue. If he has a series of strong showings in pre-draft evaluations, he will easily press his way into the lottery.

Ayo Dosunmu | Illinois

Dosunmu is putting on a show in his home state of Illinois. He was the No. 36 prospect in ESPN’s Top 100 last year, but he is significantly out performing that ranking to start the season. His 6-foot-5 frame and quick first step make him an attractive option for teams looking to invest in a project. Right now, Dosunmu is shooting an unreal 52 percent on this three-point attempts. Those rates won’t hold up over the course of the season, but the early returns show that he could blossom into a multi-dimensional threat in the NBA.

Cream of the Combo Guard Crop

Nickeil Alexander-Walker | Virginia Teach

After testing the draft waters after his freshman season, Alexander-Walker has upped his assist totals in his second year with the Hokies. His skills and size align closely with those of a traditional shooting guard, but his ability to get his teammates involved will capture consideration from suitors looking to fill a need at point guard.

Shamorie Ponds | St. John’s

Ponds has upped his assist totals and increased his individual scoring efficiency to start the 2018-19 season. He serves as the catalyst behind the Red Storm’s 6-0 start. Buoyed by his ability to score from all three levels, Ponds will garner attention from teams looking to increase their guard depth in the latter stages of the first round. His stock will continue to increase if St. John’s continues to roll past opponents.

Experienced Operators

Carsen Edwards | Purdue

Edwards’ small frame will raise doubts, but it is tough to discount his production. He shook off a slow start to record 24 points in a narrow 73-72 loss to an athletic Florida State squad in Purdue’s last outing. Edwards’ blend of patience and court vision make him arguably the best pure point guard in the 2019 class.

Kerwin Roach II | Texas

After three seasons of steady play, Roach announced his arrival to NBA scouts with a 32-point explosion against the No. 7 ranked Tar Heels. Roach could have landed in the combo guard conversation, but his experience places him here. The talented senior is averaging a career-high 4.6 assists per game. As an individual scorer, Roach has maintained a 35.9 three-point percentage after nearly doubling his attempts per game.