A talented combo guard from Georgia, Mike Mercer has all the physical tools needed to become an excellent NBA player. After showing good progress last season, his sophomore campaign was brought to a halt when he tore his ACL late in the SEC season. This season will be a question mark for Mercer, who must add polish on-court while proving he still possesses his pre-injury athleticism.
Physically, Mercer resembles Dwayne Wade at times, showing the same ability to hang in the air and get past defenders at will. He stands a legit 6-4, giving him the size to effectively play either guard spot for the Bulldogs. The junior has a strong frame that will easily allow him to play comfortably at 210 pounds without effecting his leaping ability or agility inside.
Mercer plays both on and off the ball for Georgia, and progressed nicely with his ability to play the point last season. On the drive, he has an excellent feel for where the open man is and usually delivers the ball cleanly. In addition, Mercer looked somewhat competent running a half court offense during stretches, even if he has plenty of room for improvement still here.
Despite his progress, a few big factors remain in the way of Mercers transition from project to player. In the half court, he tends to play too much one on one isolation basketball rather than picking the right spots to score in the offensive flow. People have questioned his ability to make decisions since high school, though there has been some progress here. On his drives to the basket, Mercer fails to convert on many finishes inside. This can mostly be attributed to the instinct to shy away from contact rather than going up strong and forcing the defense to foul. Last season, he only drew 2.5 free throw attempts per game, an incredibly low number for someone with Mercers natural physical gifts.
Perimeter shooting has proven to be another major problem for Mercer. His release point lacks consistency, though his mechanics looked slightly improved from his freshman season. Mercers 25% three point percentage reflects his poor shot selection on the perimeter, as well as his lack of range.
Defensively, Mercer has the tools to lockdown opposing point guards in the NBA, and his length allows him to disrupt the passing lanes. His man to man defense remains slightly above average for now, but he has the size, strength and quickness to hang with anyone.
This will be a very telling year for Mike Mercer. All reports coming from Georgia indicate that the junior guard will be at 100% going into the season, but the injury may or may not have a lingering effect on his athleticism. If he bounces back athletically and shows improved maturity and outside shooting, the potential is there for Mercer to become a high draft pick. This will probably be the most important season for him so far, and NBA scouts will be watching very closely.