Know the Prospect: Shane Larkin

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

A look at the Miami point guard and his viability as a potential 24th draft pick for the Knicks

'Tis the season. The Knicks actually have a first-round pick (#24) in the upcoming NBA Draft, so our Know the Prospect series is back. This year, our scouting department has grown to include Mr. Paul Chillsap. He and our old friend viva_morrison will be profiling potential 24th picks for the next few weeks. Learn things! - Seth

Hey everyone! CK Baber here. You might know me as Paul Chillsap. Long time no speak! I'm very excited to join in on this season's collection of Know the Prospect. No time to mess about: Let's throw on our labcoats and spectacles and get to researchin'!

Today's prospect is the University of Miami (FL) product Shane Larkin. The point guard position is quite possibly the most romanticized slot in the NBA. Fans love young point guard play, and we've seen lead guards dominate the Rookie of the Year voting for the past half decade. Larkin probably won't be challenging for the prestigious award, but he's a well-regarded mid-late first round prospect who has risen up draft boards after an excellent sophomore year and an impressive showing at the NBA Draft Combine. Larkin racked up awards and honors this year on his way to helping secure Miami's first ACC title: ACC Player of the Year, AP Men's Basketball All-American 2nd Team, John Wooden All-American, Bob Cousy award finalist, John Wooden Award finalist, Lute Olson National Player of the Year, First Team All-ACC, ACC All-Defensive Team, and ACC All-Tournament First Team and MVP.

Whew! That is a lot of hardware. It's safe to say Larkin delivered a dominant season in college basketball last year, but how might his skills translate to the next level?

The Rundown

D.O.B. - 10/2/1992 (20 years old)

Hometown - Orlando, FL

Measurements:);; Height (w/o shoes) - 5'10.25"; Height (in shoes) - 5'11.5"; Weight - 171 lbs; Wingspan - 5'10.75"; Max Vert - 44"; Lane Agility - 10.64 secs

Projected draft position: 23rd to IND on DraftExpress, 21st to UTA on Chad Ford's ESPN Mock Draft, 21st to UTA on Chris Mannix's Sports Illustrated Mock Draft, 21st to UTA on NBADraft.net

Actual scouting reports and stats: DraftExpress, NBADraft.net, Sports-Reference, University of Miami Hurricanes profile

Amateur take - Offense: Shane Larkin emerged as a fantastic offensive player in college after an up-and-down freshman season. The Hurricane was an efficient scorer both inside and out, showing off a nice array of hesitation dribbles and crossovers to get to the rim and a variety of floaters, runners, and scoop shots to finish once he got there. Larkin shot 53.8% from 2-point range, a testament to his relative abstinence from inefficient midrange jumpshots.

Coach Jim Larranaga's system emphasized pick-and-roll action and put the ball in Larkin's hands for much of his sophomore season and the feisty guard responded with efficient scoring and (mostly) smart passing. This bodes well for Larkin's prospects at the next level, as the pick-and-roll remains a dominant aspect of professional basket-making. Larkin wouldn't be the fastest guard in the league, but he's shifty and has a nice first step to burst past defenders. When he can operate off of a screen, Larkin runs to the rim with his roll man and is capable of finding open shooters on the outside as well as scoring himself. Larkin can lose control at times and force the action inside, and that problem may be exacerbated by the length and athleticism of NBA athletes. That said, Larkin is deceptively strong and often shrugs off defenders bumping him on the way to the rim. It is very important that he develop and utilize that strength and athleticism at the next level, as that is how undersized guards like Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas carved out a place for themselves in the league.

In addition to Larkin's splendid play on the interior, he showed a much improved perimeter shooting touch after a poor freshman season. Larkin shot 40% on the season from the great beyond, often showing true NBA range. He is comfortable shooting both off the catch and off the dribble, which renders him a diverse weapon on offense. For a team that runs plenty of offense through Carmelo Anthony, it's important that Melo have guys on the outside who can stretch the floor. Larkin seems to have both the ability and the confidence to be a capable and efficient shooter in the NBA, supported by his impressive .600 TS% in his final year at Miami. He shows solid mechanics, though a bit inconsistent. Larkin drifts forward a bit with his right foot at times and doesn't always follow through, but appears to have the touch to compensate.

It's vital that a PG limit his turnovers, but even more so for a Knick PG. Larkin was fairly conservative with the ball, but didn't generate a ton of assists either. His turnover rate of 15.9% placed him ahead of potential pros like Larry Drew II, Lorenzo Brown, and Michael Carter-Williams, but behind Trey Burke and Nate Wolters. Larkin doesn't have the best court vision and his height puts him at a disadvantage in terms of seeing over the defense but he is a fairly creative passer, especially on the interior after driving into the paint. It's certainly possible for him to grow in that regard at the next level given the NBA's more open floor and the increased skill of his teammates.

Amateur take - Defense: This is by far the biggest concern regarding Larkin's move to the next level. Despite being named to the ACC All-Defensive team, Larkin will be at a massive size disadvantage every night in the NBA. It's about more than just his height; there are other players succeeding in the NBA at under 6' tall. The biggest concern is his extremely short wingspan: just under 5'11", giving Larkin a standing reach of 7'5.5". To put that in perspective, Larkin would own the smallest recorded standing reach of any active NBA player in the DraftExpress measurements database. The next smallest players on file are Kemba Walker and Nate Robinson, both of whom measured a full two inches longer than Shane Larkin. To his credit, Larkin gives good effort on defense and still managed to make defensive plays in college (2 SPG last season) despite his size. In the NBA, however, it's difficult to see Larkin defending even non-star guards consistently. Larkin tested well in the lane agility drills and bench press drills, and he'll need every bit of strength and speed to defend NBA guards. His ¾ sprint times were among the fastest ever in the database, on par with Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, and Mike Conley, Jr. None of these tests mean Larkin will match those players athletically (Toney Douglas blew John Wall's time out of the water) but it eases some concerns seeing him test well. Larkin may be able to stay on the court by playing smart defense and positioning himself well, but that will also depend on the defensive schemes of his coaching staff. We're just going to double everyone anyways here in New York, so maybe it doesn't matter as much.

Knick Knacks:

  • Son of Hall-of-Fame baseballer Barry Larkin; nephew of Byron Larkin, decorated all-time leading scorer in Xavier men's basketball history
  • Born DeShane Larkin, but goes by Shane obvs
  • Nicknamed "SugaShane" by idol Barry Sanders
  • Originally planned on following in his father's footsteps as a baseball player before discovering his love for basketball.
  • One of three siblings
  • His interests include "...listening to music and playing videogames." So he's a human young adult.
  • If offered the chance to have dinner with anyone in the world, he'd choose Michael Jordan.
  • Am I the only one reminded of John Starks when seeing this guy in interviews? Maybe? Yes? ( ._.)

Let's Get Reel:


Shane Larkin - Miami - Official Highlights - 2013 NBA Draft (via ACC Digital Network) - That alley off the window to Kenny Kadji was p cool. A few of Larkin's scoop shots and runners shown here as well.


Shane Larkin: Creating His Own Path (via LatestSportsTV) - Nice video briefly covering Shane's path to UMiami and featuring some words from pappy Barry.


Meet Miami Basketball - Shane Larkin (via CanesAllAccess) - Just some random questions to help get to know Shane. He seems chill.


Shane Larkin Draft Express Combine Interview

Strengths:

  • Efficient scoring inside the arc
  • Perimeter shooting off catch and off the bounce; NBA range
  • Pick-and-roll play
  • Upper body strength
  • Athleticism
  • Basketball IQ
  • Competitiveness
  • Plays passing lanes and active hands; comes up with steals
  • Decent rebounder considering size
  • Fairly turnover-averse

Weaknesses:

  • Poor physical tools
  • Not an especially prolific passer in college
  • Sometimes questionable shot selection
  • Mostly below-rim athlete despite leaping ability
  • Bleak defensive outlook
  • Despite age, may be nearing ceiling; difficult to see vast improvement

Final Thoughts: Shane Larkin could be a good pro. He certainly made a tremendous impact in the NCAA last year. Unfortunately, concerns about his size will continue to follow him as he moves to the greatest basketball league in the world. D.J. Augustin had a similar profile coming out of Texas in 2008, and he is a bottom tier reserve guard just five years removed from being selected in the lottery. Nevertheless, there is reason to be optimistic about Larkin. Larkin is a better athlete and was much more efficient from 2PT range than Augustin. Still, it will take plenty of hard work for Larkin to make a big impact for a good NBA team.

He would be a solid fit at point for the Knicks. Larkin can attack the paint, find cutters, and score for himself. His strengths lend themselves well to a team that made its name around great 3-point shooting and maintaining control of the ball. If he can show the same finishing ability in the NBA that he displayed in college and gives maximum effort on defense, Larkin may even be able to secure a starting job in the league. Those are far from foregone conclusions, though, and his draft position will largely depend on his ability to shine in private workouts. If Larkin falls to the Knicks, he'd certainly be worth consideration with the pick even considering the notable risks.

What do you guys think of taking Shane Larkin?

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