(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Our pre-draft profiling of some lottery prospects continues today with a look at Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless.
The Basics: Bayless is listed at 6'3'', and around 190-200 lbs. depending on where you look. He's 19 years old, and is leaving Arizona after his freshman season. (Side note: I'm certain many of you have already experienced this, but it's an astounding feeling for a basketball fan to have reached the same age as many draft prospects. Maybe I should declare for the draft).
The Stats: Bayless put up 19.7 points, 4 assists and 2.7 rebounds and about 36 minutes a game this season. He was solid from the field (.458), the free throw line (.839) and downtown (.407). Bayless also averaged 3 turnovers and a steal a game. In 30 games played, he attempted 223 free throws (7.43 a game) and 145 threes (4.83 a game).
The Word: The DX profile on Bayless paints the picture of a textbook combo guard, though Bayless' superior and varied offensive skills elevate him to the top of the lottery. Simply put, the kid can do just about anything on the offensive end. He can hit from any range, shoot off the dribble or off the catch, and can get to the rack and flush it or get to the stripe if so inclined. If he were 6'6'', Bayless might very well be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Beasley and Rose. He's point-guard sized, though, and is thereby burdened with the notorious "tweener" label, meaning we've got to look for some point guard skills and/or strong defense. Profiles suggest that Bayless has more point guard abilities than guys like Eric Gordon. He can run an offense, find the open man, and handle the ball. All sources indicate, though, that scoring is Jerryd's first option and his best skill, and he is by no means a "pure" point guard. Defensively, Bayless has the quickness, strength, and motivation to play solid D, but probably only on 1's and small 2's at the NBA level. DX finishes with this evaluation:
He’s still a young player and certainly has time to develop, but right now it looks like he’d be much more comfortable playing a Monta Ellis type role in the pros (alongside another strong ball-handler) rather than as a Chauncey Billups style point guard...
...he’ll need to be drafted by the right team (with the right guard next to him) to really reach his full potential. He won’t be a perfect fit for everyone, but if he finds the right situation, Bayless has 20 point per game plus potential in the NBA if he continues to progress.
Naturally, one must ask if the Knicks are the right team. Bayless has unquestionable talent, but could he reach his full potential in New York? I say yes. He could easily be paired with another ball-handling guard in a starting lineup (Crawford, Robinson, even Marbury), in a Ellis-Davis sort of setup that could work very well in D'Antoni's system. Especially if Bayless can demonstrate even some of his defensive potential, I think he could make a great fit. He's got the look, the skills, and the pedigree (scoring point guards from Arizona fare pretty well in the pros. Take Arenas, Bibby, or Terry for example). Odds are Bayless won't fall to the 6th spot with teams like Seattle and Minnesota surely showing interest, but if he does, I'd love to see Donnie Walsh and company give him a serious look.