By Clint Corey
With all the talk of Marcus Smart and his NBA potential one thing that gets lost in the shuffle is Jahii Carson of Arizona State University has actually been the best point guard in college basketball this season.
The numbers reflect this considering Carson is shooting just under 53 percent from three, is averaging 20.5 points and just over five assists.
Marcus Smart is shooting an unimpressive less than 35 percent from three and is averaging 19.7 ppg and just under four assists per. Yes, Smart, understandably, has more impressive rebounding numbers than Carson but by barely just over one a game.
For all you stat junkies here is a side by side comparison.
The one number that sticks out for me is the overall shooting percentage considering Smart (46%) has the luxury of posting up smaller guards down on the block and Jahii (51%) gets the majority of his buckets inside the arc on jaw dropping penetration to the rim.
Detractors will say that Jahii and The Sun Devils have struggled as of late and that’s somewhat accurate.
However, against Creighton, as Boston Celtic coach Brad Stevens would say: “It was just one of those games.” Creighton jumped on them early never looking back behind player of the year candidate Doug McDermott.
The Bluejays also had the brilliant strategy of making ASU seven footer Jordan Bachynski guard on the perimeter, which put the Sun Devil defense completely out of sorts to start the game.
Smart has also had some hiccups lately, missing three free throws in a row late barely escaping an upset loss to Butler in the quarterfinals of the Old Spice classic in Orlando.
He also had a tough game in Oklahoma State’s first loss of the season Sunday at Memphis. Smart finished with 12 points including 0-5 from deep and five turnovers.
Having said that, I understand why most NBA scouts project Smart as a better NBA prospect considering his size. Although, I think they’re greatly underestimating the impact Carson could have on the next level.
There are numerous examples of quote “undersized” point guards having amazing NBA careers.
For starters, there’s Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway and Allen Iverson. Thomas (2nd) and Iverson (1st) were both selected very early however Tim Hardaway did not go until number fourteen where objectively I think about is where Jahii belongs.
In fact, if you compare Hardaway’s senior season at UTEP to Carson’s numbers this season they are very similar with, once again, Carson, shooting a much better percentage from three.
The best modern day comparisons include Ty Lawson, Isaiah Thomas and rookie Trey Burke out of Michigan.
Lawson was selected 18th overall in 2009 and is having a spectacular year with the 12-8 Denver Nuggets averaging over 19 points and eight assists.
Isaiah Thomas for the Kings wasn’t selected until late in the second round in 2011 and is having a breakout season averaging just under 18 points on over 40% shooting from beyond the arc.
For those, who are saying yeah but it’s with the Kings, don’t be fooled. That team is much better than their 5-13 record having lost to the Clippers by just a point on the road early in the season and more recently playing Golden State and OKC within a bucket at home.
The best example, however, of recent point guards entering the league that compare to Jahii is the Utah Jazz’s Trey Burke drafted ninth in last year’s draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
This recent article courtesy of James Herbert of SB Nation demonstrates Burke’s immediate and profound impact.
Jahii is very similar in style to what Burke was at Michigan and I would even give Carson the edge on overall explosiveness.
So, all rise and hail the greatness of “Jahiisus” for he is The Truth.