The 2011 offseason is finally here and the first step to winning the 2012 title is the NBA Draft. With less than a week left until Draft Day, Orlando Magic Daily will profile some players the Magic might be seeking with the 53rd overall pick.
Even for someone who played at a Big 12 school, it was easy for Diante Garrett to fly under the radar. Even after he had his breakout season as a senior, averaging 17.3 points per game and 6.1 assists per game for the Hawkeyes, not many people know his name. Garrett has been flying quietly, impressing scouts at workouts and slowly climbing up the draft board.
This guy is not going to make it all the way into the first round for sure. He had too much of a hill to climb, but reports are that he has impressed enough to reach the second round. Whether he will be available for the Magic to take at 53 is another issue. Whether Orlando wants to take on a 6-foot-4 point guard to play behind an already full point guard crop (trades pending) is another discussion entirely.
Garrett will have a lot to prove to show that his senior season was not just a high-usage rate fluke. His scoring jumped from 9.2 points per game in 2010 to 17.3, marking an 88 percent increase. Either something clicked or he was given the opportunity to dominate the ball.
However, Garrett impressed at the Portsmouth Invitational, a seniors-only scouting combine and league, and began generating some notice there. His assist numbers are consistent, improving steadliy to the 6.1 he averaged last year, and that should give teams some confidence he can be a good backup point guard in the NBA. His height should not hurt either as scouts tend to fall in love with those bigger point guards.
Figuring out what exactly Garrett can provide is going to be difficult. He showed tremendous improvement and stepped up to take over for Iowa State. But how much is that improvement going to carry over?
The Good: Garrett is a tall point guard that seems able to do both score and make the right pass. His high assist rate -- 33.8 percent his senior year and above 30 percent for his final three years in college -- shows he can get others involved. That has always been a big part of his game and something he has always been able to do.
He showed great improvement in his scoring during his senior year. Garrett scored more than 15 points in the final five games for Iowa State and logged more than 35 minutes in the final seven games, including a couple of 40-plus games. I do not think you can doubt his importance to the Iowa State team last year. They leaned heavily on him and he did just about all he could with the Cyclones.
He is an improving player and that is something you definitely like to see.
The Bad: But Garrett is very much a project offensively. He shot 41.3 percent from the floor his senior year and just 31.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line. His shooting needs a ton of improvement. A ton of improvement.
Whoever picks him is going to have to make sure he gets in the gym and gets his shots up... and with good form too. This is a pretty sizeable weakness that Garrett will have to work on to make it at the next level.
And as good as he did with the assists, his turnover rate was quite high throughout his career. He averaged 3.3 per game his senior year with an 18.3 turnover rate. His other three years, the turnover rate was above 20 percent. Those are not good numbers for a point guard.
Garrett is a major project.
Draft Sites Say:
Jorrye Nixon, NBADraft.net: "Garrett is a 6’4 pure PG with very nice fluidity and smoothness to his game ... Flew under the radar throughout his career playing for Iowa State ... Played with some pro-level talents before his Sr. year in Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap, and was effective getting them shots in their favorite spots. Managed to improve his jump shot and confidence in his last 2 years, but remains a below average jump shooter ... Has a deliberate release and doesn’t very good touch ... Didn’t make defenders pay for diving his screens as much as he needed to."
Walker Beeken, DraftExpress: "The intrigue with Garrett begins with his excellence size and length at the point guard position, as he stands at 6-foot-5 with an almost 6-foot-9 wingspan. He's still very thin and could stand to add quite a bit more strength to his slim 181 pound frame, but that could come in time if he puts the work in."
Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel: "Played four seasons at Iowa State. . . . He averaged 17.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game as a senior. . . . A big drawback, however, is his long-range shooting. He made only 31.9 percent of his 3-point tries as a senior and just 29.7 percent for his entire college career."
Billy McKinny, Milwaukee Bucks: "Diante has really improved a lot over the last couple years. I recall seeing him as a sophomore, watching this wiry kid run around, and I heard stories about him as a high school player at Vincent where he was even more wiry. But he's got a lot of savvy to his game. He plays with a lot of enthusiasm and he's got a good feel for the game. He's really starting to grow more now as a point guard. He's got great size, which I like, and I love his energy on both ends of the floor. He's getting better."
Final Thoughts: Garrett is a project. He has point guard skills and poetntial to score and dish. But he has a lot of work to do to become more consistent. He has to improve his jump shooting and decrease his turnovers. Likely he is going to struggle with this consistency coming off the bench. That, unfortunately is his most likely role.
Maybe he is worth taking a risk on at No. 53. The Magic don't feel like the right team to do it though.
Photo via DayLife.com.