This is part three of a series leading up to the NBA Draft in which I identify players that may be worth Joe Lacob's ability and willingness to buy a draft pick. I do so by choosing players that are mocked to
go at the 20th selection or later by DraftExpress, nbadraft.net, and Chad Ford. The first players mentioned were Tony Mitchell, a power forward out of North Texas, and Nate Wolters, a point guard out of South Dakota State. Today's candidate is...
Isaiah Canaan, PG Murray State 6'0" 190 lbs.
Canaan was one of college basketball's best scorers this past year. The leader of tournament darling Murray State, Canaan made a name for himself as a spark plug point guard who can score any way he wants. He is by no means a pure point guard. His passing skills and decision making leave scouts wanting more. Even still, his energy and scoring off of the bench can always be useful. Last year at Murray State he averaged 21/3/4. Not the assist numbers you're looking for in a point guard. Because of his lack of true point guard skills and size he could easily fall in to the beginning of the second round.
How he'd help: Canaan would be a spark plug off the bench that would bring instant offense. We have seen the offense sputter whenever Steph is off the floor. David Lee can only do so much from the paint, and Klay Thompson is useless unless he is standing in one spot waiting for a pass. Harrison Barnes may be able to be that guy, but he's only going in to his second year and that may be asking too much. Canaan could come in and push the pace and score the ball with his great shooting or solid strength. Also, another underrated part of Canaan's game is his pestering defense. He is not a lock down defender, but he uses his quickness and strength to annoy ball handlers and make their jobs difficult. This would be a nice change off the bench too. Think Toney Douglas.
Potential problems: While Canaan will be a good offensive player off the bench, it will be primarily as a scorer who can only look out for himself. He is not a good distributor. Maybe that would change when he is not the best player on the floor by far. While playing point guard nearly all the time at Murray State he was only averaging about four assists per game compared to 21 points. If you're looking for a back-up point guard who comes in and gets everyone involved, Canaan is not necessarily your guy.
Where he'd fit in: The Warriors future is uncertain at the back-up point guard spot. Jarret Jack played his way last year to a more lucrative contract this year, and the Warriors would have to go in to the luxury tax to keep him. If they are not willing to do that, then they need a couple of guards behind Steph Curry to pick up the slack. With no Jack the Warriors would probably go with a veteran and a rookie to battle for the minutes behind Steph. Canaan could easily be that rookie.
Conclusion: Isaiah Canaan can flat out score. I think it will translate into the NBA from Murray State because he does it with quickness, strength, and a sweet jumper. He does not pass like Steve Nash, but is he that much worse at distributing than Jarret Jack? I doubt it. I also think Canaan will be a better on ball defender than Jack the second he puts on his first NBA uniform. It may be tough to make him Curry's number one back-up because he will indubitably prone to the dreaded rookie mistakes. When all is said and done, I think Isaiah Canaan will make a solid NBA second stringer.