Category 7 Quasi-Lead Guards: 3 & D w/ Enough Playmaking to Initiate
(Skills: Off-Ball Shooting, Initiating/Running a PNR, On/Off Ball D, Switchability)
George Hill (Senior) #26
Mario Chalmers (Junior) #34
Matthew Dellavedova (Senior) Undrafted
Patrick Beverley (Sophomore) #42
Tyler Johnson (Senior) Undrafted
Also in this category but not analyzed largely due to limited sample: Marcus Smart, Seth Curry, Josh Richardson.
I. What Sets Them Apart
This player archetype is built on two foundational skill-sets: shooting and defense. Non-coincidentally, these players are usually found next to elite primary initiating two-way wings (Hill -> George/Hayward + Hood, Chalmers -> LeBron/Wade, Delly -> LeBron/Giannis, Beverley -> Harden, Johnson -> Wade). When you have enough playmaking either on the wings or at the 4/5 spots, surrounding those players with two-way shooters is immensely valuable, placing these kinds of players at a premium, yet, they are not typically drafted as such.
Defensively, Category 7 guys can almost always defend ones at the point of attack, which is more valuable than guarding smaller wings with shooting guard size, but they usually have the versatility to guard two positions in plus fashion. George Hill is the prototype here, being a plus defender who not only adds deadly spot up shooting from the corners but can also run off screens to shoot, a hidden value amongst all off-ball players.
Some would consider this category of players “shooting guards” skill-set wise as none are high usage on-ball handlers and their primary offensive contribution comes from off-ball spacing. I labeled them quasi-lead guards because they have enough ball-skills to handle under pressure, initiate offense and run a simple pick and roll, albeit less frequently than more high usage lead guards. As we progress in this process you’ll see a pretty fine line between this category and 1/2 3&D wings such as Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The strengths of each group are the same (shooting and defense), but I delineate between the two based on the former possessing more advanced ball-skills and the history of being employed in such a role.
Overall, you can be an impact player in the league as a guard if you can shoot and defend in plus fashion even if you don’t have advanced ball-skills and can’t create your own shot consistently to score. This is why so many of us were fans of Wade Baldwin in the draft, and some (including myself) ranked him ahead of Kris Dunn based on potential skill-set contribution to a winning team. A quasi lead guard who can shoot and defend in my opinion trumps a primary initiating lead guard who can’t shoot, isn’t an ET athlete and is a suspect decision-maker if we’re talking long-term contribution to winning from a team building standpoint. You need specific players to pair with a Cat 7 player, but if situated correctly in that role a Cat 7 player is more valuable than building a team from scratch with a Cat 5 or 6 player in most cases. Anyways, onto the skill attributes..