Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Past the Boxscore: Diante Garrett

Ive been inspired to do a few features on some summer league guys that aren't getting enough attention. Plenty of recognition has been going out to "me-first" point guards that have scored in bunches in summer league, but most of them can't add much to a real NBA team. The guys I mention will be veteran players who at least deserve a NBA look because they can play a role. The first installment of this series will be on former Iowa State point guard Diante Garrett.

I familiarized myself with Garrett's game when he was playing at Iowa State with Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap. I tuned in for Brackins, but the 6'5'' point guard stole part of my attention. He was a pass first guard who put up numbers across the board and made guys like Brackins look like NBA first rounders. He even fooled me into thinking Marquis Gilstrap was a possible second round prospect.

I was a bit surprised to see him go undrafted. He had the numbers and outstanding size. Plenty of scouts saw him play since they were watching Brackins. At a pre-draft camp, his wingspan measured at 6'9.5''. A guy like Julyan Stone was intriguing enough to teams last year to go in the second round and he couldn't even score. He had the same wingspan and his size and vision were the two components that resulted in him being drafted. He made the Nuggets roster and now looks like he could be their backup point guard soon.

So with seeing Stone's relative success, I really believe Garrett deserves a chance. With Kendall Marshall still unsigned for the Suns, Garrett did get a chance on Sunday. And while I watched that game, it brought back memories from his Iowa State days and inspired me to write this.

Since he graduated from Ames, Garrett has taken his game overseas. He didnt get a shot at summer league last year since there was no such thing. Garrett was a rotational player in the top French league in his first pro season, which is nothing to sneeze at. He posted the top FG% for a point guard while there at over 55%, which was good to see since he was around a 40% shooter in college.

What you get with Garrett is a true point guard who can make his teammates better. Garrett runs the pick and roll beautifully and has the natural ability to get the ball to the open guy no matter where they are on the court. He makes passing look easy. He will come off of a pick into the lane and miraculously get the ball to the open man at the 3-pt line before anyone can react. Garrett seems to be able to pass the ball with little effort at all, being able to send a bullet pass to a teammate without telegraphing it. When he comes around a pick with the ball, you can almost guarantee Garrett is going to find a man in at least halfway good position to score. Its like he has eyes in the back of his head. Rarely does he dribble the ball around just for the sake of dribbling. Every move is calculated. He is a great drive and kick guy and has no problem handling the ball in either hand. He has a effective crossover. He can throw all kinds of passes, including a nice bounce pass.

Garrett is pretty quick with the ball in his hands, but he isnt a guy you point to and call an excellent athlete. Plenty of point guards are faster than him, but he does a better job of working his way to foul line extended area than a majority of them. The reason for this is his somewhat jerky dribbling, his ability to change speeds, and his great size to shield off defender.  He is a good ball handler but could do a better job of keeping his dribble low. Its one of the disadvantages of being his height and he does turn the ball over more than you would like.

Garrett's shot has never been something he has leaned on, and it is a bit unorthodox, but he has tinkered with it enough so that it fits in his game. Garrett struggles getting all the way to the hoop, only averaging 2.5 free throw attempts his senior year in college, but his mid-range game has gotten much better. This is due to the fact that he now has established a mid-range jumper. It isn't pretty, and its actually much like his passes. He shoots it on the fly, rarely getting his feet set, and it leaves his hands very quickly. At his height, the ability to get a clean look at the hoop from around 15 feet out makes the shot easier, even if it doesn't look pretty. He does a great job creating space for his shot. Its mainly due to his quick shot than it is flashy dribbling. His 3-pt shot, still has a long way to go. He has the same form that he uses on his mid-range shot, but you just cant shoot consistently like that from behind the line. His 3-pt shot doesnt hold him back much, but in the NBA, you need every weapon you can get.

Of course, it would be nice if Garrett could get to the line more. He has became a better free throw shooter over the years, shooting over 80% in his final college season and his first year in the French league. He gets to the line so infrequently though, that you could almost credit it to a small sample size. To get to the line more, the one thing Garrett can do is add more strength. He will never be the fastest or most explosive, so he needs to compensate for that. It has also hurt him that he is so tall and lanky. He doesn't do a good job of protecting the ball inside the paint. Strength right now is the biggest thing holding him back, and the area it effects him the most is on defense.

Defensively, Garrett should be solid. He is smart and has outstanding length for a point guard. With his slight frame though, opposing coaches force him to run throw picks where he does a poor job fighting through them. He also is very jumpy defensively. He doesnt use his feet to slide laterally, but instead kind of hops around. It makes him very prone to getting crossed up and falling for fakes. With his size, teams can afford to have him guard two guards to avoid as many pick and roll situations, but then again that opens him up to being posted up and ran through screens as well. His length of strength is really apparent when a defender drives at him. Garrett isnt very fundamentally sound to make it even worse, as he gives way by backpedaling too often, but the slightest contact can send him back 5 feet.

Garrett has a decent amount of upside if he finds a good strength program to do and stick to. His offensive game is NBA ready, but upon close evaluation, its his defense that is holding him back. He will probably head back overseas and continue to improve. He is a good professional and his dad played in the NBA. If he stays in the United States this year, he is a D-Leaguer who could knock on the door of a call up all year. I will continue to keep tabs on him to see if he improves on the things he lacks. He is still intriguing to me because he can run the point so well.


  1. Yu are so right he needs a chance and he will surprise a lot of people beecause of his determination which can't be measured on paper his work effort is as high as anyone would hope for

  2. He is better than marshall