H: 6' 0"|
W: 175 lbs
(29 Years Old)
|RSCI: 36||Agent: Todd Ramasar ||
High School: Richmond
Hometown: Richmond, IN
Best Case: Sebastian Telfair
Worst Case: Will Bynum
|Year||Source||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat||No Step Vert||Max Vert|
|2007||NBA Pre-Draft Camp||5' 10.5"||5' 11.75"||175||6' 2"||7' 9"||4.8||33.5||38.5|
|Year||Source||Height w/o Shoes||Height w/shoes||Weight||Wingspan||Standing Reach||Body Fat||No Step Vert||Max Vert|
|2007||NBA Pre-Draft Camp||5' 10.5"||5' 11.75"||175||6' 2"||7' 9"||4.8||33.5||38.5|
Finally reaching the end of his roller coaster ride of a college career, Dominic James is someone we've written about countless times over the past four years. James' outstanding freshman season led to many projecting him as a future lottery pick, but after four years of struggling to live up to expectations, James now sits on the border of being drafted at all.
At first glance, many red flags pop up in looking at James' progression over his four years in college, namely his consistent decline in point production, along with his relative stagnation in most other areas. However, looking closer, there are many reasons to be optimistic, and although many people have all but written him off, much intrigue still remains in this diminutive athlete.
For the most part, James' game hasn't changed drastically in his four years at Marquette. He's an incredibly explosive and quick point guard who takes advantage of his physical attributes both with his first step and at the rim. To say he'd be in the upper echelon of point guards in the NBA in terms of purely athletic abilities would not be a stretch.
On the other hand, James' perimeter shooting is still a major area of concern, and his overall efficiency scoring the ball is abysmal, as evidenced by his 48% TS%, second worst of all players projected to be drafted over the next two years. James' shooting woes have crossed over to the free-throw line this season as well, where he's shooting, for a point guard, a nearly unheard of 46%.
In analyzing James' shot, a few things stand out, most of which we've alluded to in past write-ups of James. The biggest problem with James' shot right now is his inconsistent body control. One of the most important things any shooting coach will teach you is the importance of keeping the body moving purely on a vertical plane, perpendicular to the floor, and this is something James rarely does. His body's momentum is often moving forward or backward in addition to up and down, leading to inconsistencies with his accuracy, which causes him to try and compensate in other areas of his shot, which creates inconsistencies throughout his shot, leading to a lot of bad misses.
For the most part, however, James' overall form is not that bad; he gets great elevation, has full arm extension at a good angle, holds his follow through, and has a consistent and quick release. The inconsistent body control, however, seems to make the rest of that stuff largely irrelevant. In addition to his problems with body control, James' general feel for shooting the basketball is questionable, and even if he remedies the issues with his form, he probably won't ever be a great shooter.
In analyzing James‘ free-throw shooting, it's honestly quite perplexing that he's shooting as bad as he is, as his form is not terrible. Like on his jump shot, however, his body's momentum is not purely vertical, as he leans back on virtually all of his shots, which could be affecting his accuracy. Given that almost all of his misses are of the North/South variety, it's likely a combination of the body control and his general shooting touch, as his shot being on line with the rim is not often a problem.
One area for optimism is James' point guard game, as he's quietly managed to consistently raise his assist-to-turnover ratio throughout his four seasons at Marquette, while his turnovers per 40 minutes pace adjusted have consistently dropped. His 6.5 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted rank 17th in our entire database, while his A:TO ratio and Pure Point Rating both rank 4th.
As a distributor, James possesses very good court vision in addition to the ability to take his man off the dribble with his outstanding first step. He isn't able to consistently create for his teammates in the half court, however, as teams will often sag off him, daring him to shoot a jumper, limiting his penetration opportunities. He's a more dynamic playmaker in up-tempo situations, where he can more consistently make use of his blazing speed, however his decision-making is still somewhat an area of concern in both the half court and transition, as sometimes he'll make you question whether he knows the difference between a good shot and a bad shot, while he's also prone to forcing the issue with the ball.
Defensively, James has consistently raised his steals per 40 minutes pace adjusted in his four years in school, and there is much to be optimistic about for James on this end of the floor. He has very good anticipation ability in the passing lanes and his hands are nothing short of outstanding. Laterally, James is very good, and he couples that with a good stance and attentiveness as well. James does a good job staying in front of his man on the perimeter, and is even able to recover at times when he gets on the opposition's hip. On the perimeter, James can be shot over at times at his diminutive size, but he makes use of his excellent elevation to help compensate that when contesting jumpers.
Looking forward, James is a likely late second round pick in the draft, however with his physical tools, teams should be considering him as soon as the second round begins, as his upside will be higher than most players left on the board. If a team feels they can remedy his shooting woes, he may go off the board earlier than expected, however it's also possible he isn't drafted at all, as many talent evaluators may have soured on him after four years. James will be a possible candidate for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, however given the way his last pre-draft camp went, he may be wary to attend.
As a no-name freshman stepping right into the spotlight three years ago, Dominic James blew away most observers with a terrific debut season on his way to winning Big East Rookie of the year honors. He looked well on his way to stardom, only in need of some minor adjustments that old-fashioned experience would surely take care of en-route to a first round selection in the NBA draft.
Fast-forward three years, and James is still at Marquette, after seeing his numbers regress noticeably in nearly every major category from season to season, and his team unable to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. He burned himself pretty badly with a terrible showing at the NBA pre-draft camp in 2007, and has been left for dead by most scouts who have moved onto younger and more intriguing prospects.
Still, with the wisdom that hopefully comes with age, going into his very important senior season, there is time to turn things around.
James is still the same freakishly explosive athlete he always was, capable of blowing by opponents with a terrific first step or elevating around the rim with ease for a rim-rocking dunk. The back-door alleyoop lob is still a fixture in Marquette’s set-offense with him as the main target—highlighting just how impressive an athlete he truly is at his diminutive size of 5-11 and ¾ in shoes. He gets to the free throw line at a solid rate for that reason, but only converts around 65% of his attempts once there.
The book on James’ slashing ability is pretty clear: when he drives right he’s going all the way to the rim, and when he drives left he’s almost always pulling up. Shifty in the open floor and herky-jerky with his movements, James can create his own shot with the best of them, often needing nothing except his pure first step. His strength and explosiveness come in very handy around the basket, but his lack of size and length often hinders him from finishing some of the out of control drives he’s become known for. He does a nice job running the pick and roll (40% of his offense comes this way actually) and has the vision to find open teammates off the dribble cutting to the rim or spotting up from outside.
James’ assist numbers (he ranks 25th amongst all players in our database in assists per-40 pace adjusted) and assist to turnover ratio (ranks 17th aren’t bad, but we haven’t seen any real progression from him over the last few years in terms of decision making and shot-selection. He still plays that same frenetic, unpredictable style of offense that would drive most coaches up the wall—dribbling with his head down into brick walls frequently, and pulling up off the dribble for some absolutely awful shots. Many of the mistakes we saw him make as a freshman are still very much a part of his game, making you wonder if his feel for the game will ever improve enough to give an NBA coach the faith to let him run their team.
The biggest problem James faces is that he’s just not a good shooter by any stretch of the imagination. Regardless, he shoots the ball an awful lot from the perimeter, which ranks him dead last in True Shooting Percentage amongst all players currently in our 2009 mock draft, and 15th worst amongst all players in our database. The form on James’ stroke looks pretty decent actually, but he elevates so high that he is never able to get a consistent release point on his shot, and he seems to suffer from pretty poor touch as well, as evidenced by the 66% he shot from the free throw line last season.
Defensively, James will likely always be deemed limited to a certain extent (at least as far as NBA decision makers are concerned) due to his poor size at just a hair under 6-feet and average 6-2 wingspan, but he surely makes up for that with his terrific effort. He is tough, pesky, and very willing to get down in a low stance and get right in his man’s grill to help come up with a stop. He gets in the passing lanes at a nice rate in turn, and will even come up with a blocked shot from time to time, showing great lateral quickness and that same pogo-stick bounce that makes him such a highlight reel caliber player on the other end of the floor.
Scouts will have to continue to monitor the progress of Dominic James this season, as despite being unable to live up to expectations thus far, he is still a tremendously talented player with extremely rare physical tools. It will be interesting to see what kind of season he has, as it probably won’t take all that much for people to jump back on his bandwagon.
As a freshman, Dominic James exploded onto the Big East scene as a high flying, scoring point guard, who could do a little bit of everything to help a team win games. His sophomore season though was a major disappointment. The Indiana native saw decreases in scoring, rebounding, assists, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Some of this may have had to do with the departure of Steve Novak from the previous year, who had certainly kept some pressure off of James. After declaring for the draft last June and coming up empty, the pressure will be on James to make some serious strides in his game and prove that he’s a better prospect than he showed at the NBA pre-draft camp.
Measured at just 5’11 and ¾” in shoes, James is undersized, even for the point guard position. What he lacks in size though, he makes up for with freakish athleticism. Despite an overall poor performance at the Orlando pre-draft camp, James tested out as the third best athlete at the camp. Most impressive is his leaping ability; James’ vertical jump was measured at 38.5 inches. He has tremendous speed and quickness, in both the open floor and half court sets. James has also proven to be a very strong player for his size. He does well taking contact when going to the basket.
Despite being a point guard, James has a shoot first mentality most of the time. In only four out of thirty-four games last season did he attempt less than ten shots. James is at his best when he is slashing to the basket. He has a quick first step and also possesses a wonderful array of jukes and hesitation moves. Once in the lane, James is able to elevate over many defenders, and those that he isn’t, he still often finds ways to score around thanks to his fantastic body control in the air. This knack for penetrating defenses also allows James to set up his teammates with a lot of easy looks around the basket. Despite a drop-off in production, James still doled out nearly five assists per game last season.
James biggest weakness as an NBA prospect relate to his struggles with his perimeter shooting ability. He shows some ability shooting off the dribble from mid-range, but beyond the arc, James was awful last year. He shot just 27% from three-point range, but the real issue is that he averaged over five attempts from the outside per game. James has a tendency to fade away and kick out his legs on shots from the perimeter. He shows very nice form and has a quick release, but his release point is very inconsistent. More importantly, James’ shot selection isn’t always very good.
In transition, James is a real asset to his team thanks to his athletic ability. He has solid handles and great open floor speed, so he is certainly capable of taking the ball coast-to-coast and weaving his way through defenders. James also has a knack for knowing when to leak out on long rebounds. His vertical explosiveness makes for plenty of dazzling finishes on the other end of the floor.
Overall offensively, James has plenty of ability. He needs to improve on his perimeter shooting, but above all he needs to improve his decision making skills. James hasn’t proven to have the highest basketball IQ, forcing the issue more often than he should. Too many times he’ll try to take on multiple defenders, when as a point guard he should reset the offense or pass off to a teammate.
Defensively, James is able to make things happen once again because of his athletic ability. He has fantastic lateral quickness, which allows him to very closely guard opponents when they have the ball, and not worry about being beaten off the dribble. For a smaller player, he does well fighting through screens and following his man through traffic. His 1.9 steals per game last year is a testament to his quick hands and great anticipation. What James does need to improve upon though is his help defense. He has a tendency to get too caught up with his own man, closely guarding him even when on the weak side of the floor. He also gets into trouble against taller guards who are able to shoot over him from the perimeter.
Some people may be forgetting about James since he regressed last year and had such a poor pre-draft, but he will still be one of the more visible guards in the country this year. The physical tools are there, and certainly there is already plenty to be happy about in terms of his offensive game; if James can improve his decision making and his perimeter game, and most importantly lead Marquette deep in the tournament, he will be right back in the thick of things draft wise.
This may have been Dominic James’ best game of the camp, and looking at his stat line, it’s pretty obvious to realize that that’s not a good thing for a player who was projected so highly in the early weeks of this past NCAA season. James is definitely a better player than he showed here at the camp, but some of the doubts being thrown his way are certainly legitimate, as his lack of a formidable outside shot and his lack of impactful point guard plays are very troubling for a player whose shown so much ability in the past.
James made some very nice moves taking the ball to the hoop today, probably moreso than he’s done on any other day here, but he wasn’t always able to finish, just adding to the frustration he must be going through here at the camp. James started the game off by picking off a pass with his quickness and anticipation on the defensive end, then taking the ball the length of the court, only to miss a weak lay-up when he should’ve gone harder to the hole to draw contact and finish strong. James next made a very nice crossover dribble move going from right to left, taking the ball forward with his left hand, but he missed on a pull-up jumper from 10 feet out as he moved across the lane, taking an off-balanced shot that he was unable to convert. James missed on a similar play later in the game, with that attempt actually coming from 20 feet out, a shot with an even higher degree of difficulty.
James got his first score of the game on a nice right-handed drive into the lane where he put up a floater off the glass, over an attempted block by the opposing team’s big man. James made some other decent drives in the game as well, but he wasn’t able to finish at the hole over the big man most of the time, or he decided to pass the ball off before he got there. James did he an NBA three-pointer in the game, coming off a screen for a pull-up shot, something he hasn’t proved he can do consistently yet, as his outside shot is suspect.
In terms of playing the point, James did a pretty good job keeping his teammates involved, making some nice passes, though his teammates didn’t always finish or even catch the passes. He had some drive-and-dishes, kick-outs, and dump-offs, occasionally doing so off advanced dribbling moves like his crossover. Defensively, James was a mixed bad, letting opposing point guard Taurean Green by on a few occasions, but playing some aggressive defense on him at others.
It’s really tough to project where James will be drafted if he remains in this year’s draft, as we’ve seen two vastly different sides of him in the past nine or so months. Depending on what player the scouts buy into more, the one we saw early in the season or the one we’ve seen of late, he could be all over teams’ boards, being in the 20’s on some and on the border of not being drafted on others. James can still help himself out in workouts some, but as a point guard, the main factor in evaluating him should be real-game, 5-on-5 situations, which he probably won’t be participating in again in front of scouts or teams until summer league, well after the draft is over.
Although he certainly played a lot better than yesterday, Dominic James’ second day performance definitely left a lot to be desired for a player who seems to be adamant about keeping his name in the draft. He overdribbled badly on numerous possessions, driving into brick walls with his head down and showing an inability to read defenses and react based off what was thrown at him. James is pressing here pretty badly so far, and his stock has to be taking a nosedive. He is still the same ridiculously quick and explosive athlete he’s always been—as evidenced by the way he got into the paint and drew fouls for himself—but his terrible jump-shot (even from the free throw line, where he shot 2-6) is a major hindrance for him. At this point, there is a legit possibility that James doesn’t even get drafted.[Read Full Article]
James, nearly snubbed from the event entirely, didn’t help his cause one bit in his first game. It wasn’t that James played a bad game, but the complete lack of positive contribution is a bit puzzling from the same player who just six months ago beat Duke almost by himself.
James started the game off with a clear pass-first mentality, and he was able to thread the needle on a couple of forays into the lane in the early going. He would continue to sprinkle in a decent feed every now and then the rest of the way, but never really forced the issue off the bounce. This was quite surprising to see, as the one thing everybody counted on seeing from the undersized floor leader was that burst of speed on the way to the basket. But going up against players like Aaron Brooks, James looked very non-descript as an athlete, and almost tentative in the way he approached the game.
James rarely looked to score in this one, but his lack of size was apparent whenever he did. Given his shooting struggles and continuing tendency to waste precious of the shot clock by hanging onto the ball, these just aren’t good signs coming from a prospect that was thought of as a potential lottery pick at the beginning of the season. Needless to say, James will need to pick it up a couple of notches from here on out if he wants to find himself in the draft mix this year.
Our first day at Grover’s was also James’ first, so we had to take that into consideration when comparing him with his peers. Regardless, he looks like the kind of guy that can make a pretty strong impression in a private workout from what we saw, as he has all the tools to excel in almost everything except for the shooting drills.
James has off-the-charts quickness, excellent strength, and phenomenal leaping ability. When he sets his mind on getting to the basket, there are few players in this draft that can stay in front of him. Not only is he athletic with terrific ball-handling skills, but he also has all kinds of instinctive moves he can go to to create space for himself and get by his defender, particularly when operating out of the triple threat position. He can get all the way to the basket and finish strong with contact, or create separation sharply off the dribble and pull-up from mid-range. Most of his shot-creating ability seems to be more self-taught or instinctive rather than highly polished moves, though, meaning he still probably has even more upside to this part of his game once he really gets to work with a full-time development coach and improves his technique.
Once the shooting drills kick off, though, your enthusiasm begins to temper a bit. He gets phenomenal elevation on his jump-shot--time in and time out—but jumps very far forward (rather than straight up) and tends to shoot it on his way down at times instead of at the apex of his elevation. This means his release point is always going to be inconsistent. This is not the most difficult thing in the world to fix, though, so there is still some room for optimism down the road. His actual shooting motion is not that bad, particularly in terms of the rotation and arc he puts on the ball. Anyway you slice it, though; right now he’s a poor shooter.
Once the five on five started, we began to recall why we were so high on James throughout most of this year. His stripes as a point guard really came out here, making outstanding plays unselfishly again and again with the ball in his hands, and looking fantastic on the drive and dish in particular. He got into the lane with ease thanks to his crossover, shot-fakes and array of hesitation moves, and covered a ton of ground getting into the paint from the perimeter off just one dribble. His perimeter shooting again emerged as a big concern here, as he was unable to punish his defender for going underneath screens on the pick and roll, but seemed to force the issue regardless by taking contested shots. Defensively, he struggled a bit getting through the screens that were set on him. His height is certainly going to be an issue here.
With all that said, we’ll still be shocked if the committee somehow finds a way to leave him off the invite list for the pre-draft camp this week. Let it stand on the record that it’s this writer’s belief that Dominic James is going to end up being a solid NBA player, if not more than that.
Marquette’s season is over after being completely exposed by a balanced team with far superior coaching, but it’s hard to say just how much of the blame for that should fall on the shoulders of their point guard, Dominic James. Tom Izzo drew up the perfect game plan to take advantage of all of his opposition’s biggest flaws, and Marquette was unable to respond or make them pay for the way they were being defended.
Michigan State clogged up the paint and basically forced Marquette to jack up three pointers all game long, and the Golden Eagles responded by hitting only two shots from inside the arc the entire night. On the other end of the floor, Michigan State completely destroyed Marquette inside the paint, and Tom Crean did not even attempt to make any adjustments to his game plan to try and stop them. Considering all the above, the fact that James managed to score 18 of his team’s 49 points was a minor accomplishment in itself. He clearly would have finished with a bit more than 2 assists if he had anyone on the wing who could knock down a wide-open jumper or a big man who could catch a simple pass off the pick and roll.
James’ shot-selection wasn’t exactly stellar either, though. He clearly got frustrated at times and heaved up bad shots early in the shot-clock just like Tom Izzo wanted him to do. On other occasions he got too fancy with his dribble and tried to split double teams in wild fashion or drive into triple teams.
One thing that was stellar was the defense he played on Drew Neitzel. James showed his potential as a lock-down defender by not giving him an inch to breathe all night long, chasing him around screens, keeping the ball out of his hands, and forcing him into a poor performance by his standards. To Neitzel’s credit, he recognized the situation and let his teammates make plays for him, especially his frontcourt mates Marquise Gray and Raymar Morgan.
All in all, it would be foolish to deny that James needed a much better performance in order to boost his already faltering draft stock. With his season now over, he’s got an extremely tough decision ahead of him. This scout has no doubt in his mind that he’d be able to showcase his tremendous strengths much better if he had better personnel around him, but its not clear if NBA scouts feel the same way. James might very well have to return for his junior season and come back after having polished up his perimeter shooting and decision making skills.
Last time we wrote about Dominic James, he was shredding apart Duke’s backcourt on the way to an impressive 25 point, 7 assist, 1 turnover performance in a monumental victory at Madison Square Garden. Since then, he has struggled badly with his perimeter shooting and costly turnovers, which saw Marquette drop four of their last 11 games. Both James’ and Marquette’s stock seemed to be on the decline, but a big home win over a ranked West Virginia team seems to indicate that they still have every intention of making a run to the NCAA Tournament.
James was about as good as we’ve seen him in the first half against the Mountaineers. He hit two very good looking spot up 3-pointers, and then continued to knock down a contested pull-up jumper from NBA range in the 2nd half. He made very solid decisions in transition, looking for his shot and using his outstanding combination of quickness, shiftiness and ball-handling skills to get by his man and either finish or unselfishly find the open man. He made some spectacular passes showing off his excellent instincts and terrific court vision, and finally looked comfortable making decisions as Marquette’s primary ball-handler. Tom Crean decided to move James off the ball more these past few games in favor of the extremely talented but also extremely erratic Jerel McNeal, but it was James who handled more responsibilities in breaking down West Virginia’s pesky half-court defense.
On the other end of the floor, James may have been the decisive factor in Marquette’s comfortable win. He did a fantastic job of disrupting West Virginia’s guards all game long at the point of his team’s press, getting in the passing lanes, sticking his nose in all kinds of places he had no business being, and moving his feet with the type of quickness the Mountaineers haven’t seen all year long. He came away with 5 steals on the day, all in the first half, and surely had at least another couple of deflections.
All in all, this is exactly the type of player it’s not hard envisioning Dominic James becoming in the NBA. Stuck alongside two combo guards at the collegiate who also are considered inconsistent perimeter shooters, teams don’t have issues locking into a tight zone and forcing the Golden Eagles to win the game from outside the arc, a strategy that often works. If inserted into a system where he’s able to push the tempo of the game constantly and break defenders down off the dribble, with capable shooters spotting up on the wing and a decent big man to set screens and roll off the ball, he will certainly thrive. He has the makings of a player who is much better suited for the up-tempo NBA style of play rather than the NCAA’s, even if he certainly is on the small side.
On a national stage going up against one of the most scrutinized programs in America in the Duke Blue Devils, Dominic James stepped up his game and showed his worthiness of being called the #1 NBA draft prospect in the Big East. Down the stretch, he carried his team with a series of jumpers and forays into the paint to draw fouls to put pressure on Duke’s defense and ultimately carry Marquette to victory in the finals of the CBE Classic.
Playing both the 1 and 2 spots, James did an outstanding job setting the tempo for Marquette. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, he used his scintillating quickness and incredible array of changes of speed and hesitation moves to blow by defenders and get into the lane, drawing defenders and either finishing the play himself or dropping off a beautiful pass to an open teammate. Whether it was to an open wing spotting up on the perimeter or a gorgeous bounce pass into the past directly into the hands of his big men, James was phenomenal using his court vision to pick apart Duke’s defense. James was constantly looking to get his team out into transition and did a marvelous job showing scouts just how truly explosive he is, finishing plays himself with a reverse dunk and even looking to finish off alleyoop lobs himself. He combines this athleticism with a rare combination of strength and toughness at times to crash the offensive glass, draw charges, or even post up much bigger defenders as he showed against Duke.
When a lane wasn’t available to be exploited, James was very much content stopping on a dime and pulling up off the dribble for a sweet mid-range shot. He is excellent from 16-17 feet out thanks to the terrific elevation he gets on his jumper, but struggles when he’s shooting from beyond that range. That doesn’t seem to stop him from trying, though, which is where he starts getting into trouble when he’s pounding the rock incessantly and then contorting his body and taking tough, awkward shots with a hand in his face. When he puts his mind to it, there isn’t a player in America who can keep him out of the lane, and to his credit he for the most part this is indeed his bread and butter. What’s scary is that the form on his jumper is actually very solid, meaning it might be only a matter of time until he’s knocking down 3-pointers at a consistent clip.
When discussing his NBA draft stock, people will rightfully want to bring up his lack of size when contemplating just how high in the first round he’ll end up landing. Truth be told, it’s hard not to think of Chris Paul when watching Dominic James play, and the two are not that far apart, at least in terms of height. Sources close to the situation tell us that something extremely unusual will have to happen for him not to declare for the draft this year, and if he keeps playing the way he did against Duke, it’s hard not to see him landing in the lottery.
Perhaps the premier returning player in a conference that has gone through a lot of turnover in the past two years, Dominic James also might be the top returning point guard prospect in the entire NCAA. Blessed with freakish athleticism and excellent court sense, a season that builds on an incredible freshman year would probably land the speedster a spot in the first round of the upcoming draft.
When a 5-11 true point guard’s signature fast break move is the reverse dunk, you can bet NBA scouts are going to take notice. There is no denying James’ elite vertical explosiveness, and the sophomore doesn’t just utilize it on breakaways. James, already blessed with a dynamite first step, plays much bigger than his listed size because he can hang in the air for acrobatic finishes around the rim and in the lane. He takes contact well around the basket, and really understands how to slash. His ability to change direction and pace, combined with a dazzling crossover move, also add to the dilemma for a defense trying to keep James out of the lane.
James isn’t a consistent outside shooter just yet, but has everything in place to become very dangerous from the perimeter. Where many speedy point guards struggle with their shooting early in their NBA careers because they could get away with shooting more of a set shot against dishonest college defenses, James already gets a ton of elevation on his shot. He needs to firm up the consistency of his release, but one reason for the low percentage a season ago was the tendency for the ball to be in his hands as the shot clock expired. Still, James can probably cut out a few of the contested 3-pointers.
As a point guard, James is a point guard that the entire defense must keep an eye on. Missed shots are especially dangerous, as James is an excellent rebounder for his size and can strike quickly in transition through open court passing or pure ball-in-hand speed. Marquette really doesn’t have to worry about full court pressure, as James is the type of point guard that can slice through traps and presses with ease. His ball-handling gets a little sloppy at times, but this is certainly a byproduct of moving at such high speeds. As a passer, he does a good job of playing under control and limiting his mistakes. Marquette’s offense didn’t flow as well as it could have a season ago, with James having a tendency to overdribble at times. However, James shows great court vision on penetrate and kick plays once he gets into the lane.
Defensively, James isn’t putting his athletic gifts to good use just yet. Tom Crean often used defensive specialist and fellow sophomore Jerel McNeal to guard particularly dangerous floor generals, allowing James to focus on help defense and get his wind back for the next offensive possession. Nonetheless, James’ outstanding lateral quickness and quick hands should allow him to develop into an outstanding ball pressure-type defender down the road.
On the whole, James’ freshman season was downright scary good. His presence was a major reason for Steve Novak’s abrupt emergence as an NBA prospect, and Marquette wouldn’t have been close to an NIT bid without James, let alone an NCAA berth. It is also important to keep in mind that James really wore down over the second half of the season, due to his reckless style of play, and that we haven’t seen much of him at full strength.
James’ lack of size limits his upside to a certain extent, but my guess is that the further he slides out of the lottery, the more temping he will become for NBA teams. His game elicits numerous pro comparisons, from Travis Best to Jamal Tinsley. If he can add a consistent outside shot, his stock is only going to rise. 1st Team All-America is a legitimate possibility, and a deep NCAA Tournament run probably puts James in the first round whenever he wants to declare.
If you're not familiar with his name, learn it now because you've been missing out on one of the most exciting players in the country. A diminutive point guard in the mold of Chris Paul (although not quite as naturally talented), James stepped into the Big East as a freshman and displayed incredible poise playing against the toughest guards the country has to offer, landing himself freshman of the year honors for his efforts. Considering his size and relative lack of experience, we fully expect James to return for at least another year or two of Big East play to show that height is just a number when it comes to players with a heart like his, as his athleticism and natural born leadership skills makes up for anything he lacks in the measurements department. Marquette will be counting on their freshman to play like a senior here in March, and it will be fascinating (and probably nerve wracking for their fans) to see how much James is up for the task.[Read Full Article]