Although we wrote about him at the beginning of the season following the Maui Invitational, it might be time for a short update on Javaris Crittenton
considering how intriguing of a prospect he is and the lack of depth this draft possesses at the point guard position. Standing 6-5 and possessing terrific athleticism and instincts for his position, there are few point guards in the NCAA that you can say have more natural tools that the NBA looks for.
From what we saw in the Clemson game and beyond, Crittenton has a phenomenal combination of size, frame, strength, blazing quickness, all-around smoothness and outstanding talent. Hes a terrific ball-handler who puts relentless pressure on defenses by constantly looking for gaps to penetrate and get in the lane to draw contact or dish off the dribble. He can go left or right, utilizes shot and ball-fakes effectively, and has a smooth crossover he uses instinctively to keep his matchup off balance. Hes got plenty of herky-jerkiness to his game, and once hes inside the paint, loves to elevate smoothly for either a beautiful floater or a one-handed layup high off the glass. With six seconds left to go in the Clemson game, Crittenton used one of these gorgeous floaters to put Georgia Tech up by one point, but the Tigers came right back and scored at the buzzer off a James Mays
As a point guard, Crittenton has been up and down as you might expect from a freshman playing against good competition in the beginning on his college career. He shows great flashes of court vision at times by making terrific post-entry-pass lobs and drive and dish plays, but has a tendency to get too flashy and play out of control. Hes been very dominant with his ball-handling so far (in the sense that hes constantly dribbling) and therefore fairly turnover prone as well, but hes starting to settle down a bit lately to a certain extent.
At times youll still see him pounding the ball excessively and over-penetrating or running into brick walls. As you can say about most young and athletic point guards, he needs to learn how to pick his spots better, something that will probably only come with experience and maturity. Hes still not overly effective in terms of running a half-court offense and controlling tempo, as he only seems to know how to play at full speed, rather than shifting gears from time to time to keep his man off balance. His decision making and overall focus also often leaves something to be desired in terms of his all-around consistency.
Something that could really help him is a consistent pull-up jumper he can utilize from mid-range. Its something you dont see him use at all as hes either spotting up for 3 or driving bullishly into the lane. Crittenton is knocking down his 3-pointers at a very good clip this year-- 44%--but hes only attempted about 2.7 per game and never really against good competition. Well see as the year progresses if his percentages are for real since he was not known as a great outside shooter in high school, particularly off the dribble. Defensively, he has a very long ways to go in terms of knowing how to contain his man and adequately make rotations with the team concept, particularly guarding the pick and roll.
All in all, its hard to find a point guard in college basketball with more NBA upside than Crittenton. Should he decide to enter the draft, hell probably end up as a first round pick if he takes care of his business the way youd expect him to. At the same time, hes still very much a raw prospect who needs as much high level playing time and experience as he can get before hed be ready to contribute anything at the NBA level. For that reason, another year in college is imperative for his development, and it really wouldnt be a shock at all to send him land as a lottery pick if he takes his time, wins some games in the NCAA tournament, and shows that hes ready to enter the NBA as a legit backup point guard rather than as a long-term project.