Following a strong junior season as the Big 10's second leading scorer at 18.5 ppg, Penn State's Talor Battle put his name in to make himself eligible for 2010 NBA Draft. After testing the waters and garnering little interest from NBA teams, Battle ultimately decided to return to Penn State for his senior season, where he'll look to help the Nittany Lions improve from a dismal 3-15 record in the Big Ten in 2009-2010, and also give himself one last chance to showcase his game for NBA scouts.
Battle played over 37 minutes per game last season, and the Nittany Lions relied heavily on his abilities on the offensive end. His biggest strength is clearly his shooting ability, which he utilizes to open up the rest of his game. Playing the point guard position with a scorer's mentality, Battle is able to create opportunities off the dribble for himself and others, as defenders are forced to honor the deep range and quick release on his jump shot. He is effective shooting off the catch and either direction off the dribble, and he's learned how to find ways to create space to get his shot off, despite his lack of height and the fact that he is the primary focus of opposing team's defense at Penn State. This would likely be much more difficult for him at the NBA level though, against taller, longer, more athletic defenders.
As we've mentioned before, Battle isn't a prototypical pass-first point guard, but he does display the ability and willingness to distribute the ball to the open man. And although he tends to force some turnovers when he gets into the lane on dribble penetration, he excels at finding his teammates on drive-and-kick situations, and he generally displays good decision making skills, as evidenced by a solid 1.79 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.
From a physical standpoint, Battle lacks the attributes that scouts like to see from an NBA point guard prospect. Standing at 5'11 with a decent frame, he doesn't possess the elite speed or explosiveness of most players his size that have been able to succeed at the NBA level. While he does display a fairly quick first step, which enables him to get into the lane off the dribble, his lack of size and great elevation often leads to poor decisions in traffic. He does display craftiness and sense of how to draw contract when attacking the basket, but he must learn to operate more efficiently in the lane.
Battle's lack of physical tools limits his effectiveness on the defensive end as well. His average lateral quickness often leads to getting beat by his man off the dribble, and his lack of size and length would surely be a bigger issue in the NBA, trying to contest shots and defend dribble penetration.
When evaluating Battle's prospects of playing in the NBA after this season, he is most likely a long-shot, due to the disadvantages he would face from a physical and athletic standpoint in the NBA at the point guard position. His top notch shooting ability and solid feel for the game should no doubt earn him some looks though, and at least give him the opportunity to make a nice living playing basketball overseas.