Amazon Contextual Product Ads

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Scouting Report: Shane Larkin

Shane Larkin was originally a high level mid-major recruit being courted by the likes of Depaul, George Mason, Colorado, and Boston College. He was seen as a potential face of a team, a point guard who could take over games with his scoring, but his short stature prevented him from getting looks from the top schools in the country. George Mason was perhaps the top school on his list, as Larkin was a big fan of Jim Larranaga, but Coach L decided to take another guard over him instead of waiting on Larkin to make a decision. That resulted in Larkin ultimately choosing Depaul, but he asked out of his scholarship months before the season started due to an undisclosed medical condition.

It also just so happened that Jim Larranaga had moved on to Miami and had one more scholarship available for a guard in the class of 2011. It was a perfect fit.

The rest you can say, is history.

Shane Larkin made an immediate impact his freshman year, averaging 25.6 minutes a game. His playing time was inconsistent though and with Durand Scott often on the ball, it was hard for Larkin to get into a rhythm. At the start of this past season, his sophomore campaign, things were different as Larkin had been given complete reigns of the offense over the senior incumbent Durand Scott.

Shane Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 2 steals per contest while shooting 48% from the field and over 40% from the arc. He led Miami to a surprise finish atop the ACC and helped them earn a number 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. Their season ended in a loss in the Sweet 16 to Marquette.

Larkin was able to improve so much from one year to the next because Miami decided to put the ball in his hands and let him make plays. On a team filled with seniors, it was Larkin who served as the catalyst. He was the most competitive, consistent, and complete player all year long. In the ACC championship game, he exploded for 28 points and 7 assists. By the end of the year, it was clear that this was his team and he was making things look easy.

Larkin thrived in an up tempo setting and also did a great job in pick and roll situations. Nearly all possesses for Miami started with Larkin having the ball in a pick and roll situation. Larkin is deadly in those situations for a multitude of reasons.

The first is his burst/acceleration. Larkin is quick changing directions and has a nice crossover, but his acceleration and burst is more impressive. He can come around a screen and turn on the jets with relative ease. Defenders want to play off of him and play him for the drive, but it is virtually impossible because Larkin is also a major threat shooting the ball.

Larkin shot over 40% from behind the arc this season and it had nothing to do with any luck. He is a great shooter who maintains excellent balance whether he is shooting from a standstill position or off the dribble. Larkin is always under such control with the ball in his hands. Defenders have no idea how to guard him as he can pull up from NBA range or drive right by you. He is so smooth and shoots the ball with such ease coming off the dribble. In a way, his use of the pick and roll is reminiscent of Steph Curry - just the way he is always ready to shoot and make anyone pay for slacking off in the pick and roll game.

That isnt to say he is the next Steph Curry - Curry is a once in a generation shooter and has a couple of inches on him - and those two discrepancies can make all the difference. But his feel with the ball in his hands is on Curry's level.

Larkin doesn't settle for jumpers though. He is very balanced when it comes to attacking the pick and roll. Thats why he is so dangerous. It is very hard to predict what he will do. He can go around the edge of the screen and has the burst to turn the corner, but he is just as likely to split the screen with a quick crossover move. Even when he aggressively attacks the rim. Larkin never finds himself out of control.

At only 5'11'' and lacking great explosiveness or strength, its not surprising that Larkin isnt great at getting all the way to the rim and finishing. But he doesn't have to. Larkin has an excellent feel on his floater and gets off his jumpers very quickly as well. As I said, Larkin is always under control and ready to shoot, showing excellent balance at all times. He shot 45% on 2-pt shots outside of layups and most of them came on floaters or short jumpers. In terms of shooting long jumpers after attacking the screener, Larkin doesn't do that often.

Instead, if Larkin is unable to get in position to shoot his floater, he is a perfectly capable passer. Not only is he balanced in shooting and driving, but he also does a good job of picking his spots on when to pass. At the college level, Larkin is more of a score first point guard because the opportunities presented themselves, but in the NBA he can easily adapt to looking for his teammates more.

Larkin is a creative passer with great vision. He never misses finding an open man. Since Larkin struggles to get all the way to the rim and finish, when he sees a help defender coming on a drive, he usually always is able to find the open man with a pass. His drive and kick game is on point and he always does a good job getting the ball to his big men. He finds his big men on lobs and is a creative passer, sometimes leaving his feet to find teammates. While jump passing can be discouraged, Larkin has good knowledge of when it is acceptable and rarely gets himself in tough spots.

In the college game, Larkin was able to dominant offensively with the ball and his hands just by using the pick and roll. In the NBA, teams won't be as scared off him and will be able to cover him tighter and with longer defenders. In college, the threat to shoot or drive often left him without an pressure on the ball and gave him free reign on the court. That won't be as easy in the NBA. He will need to prove he can handle the ball against tough man to man defenders and his strength will definitely need to be improved.

But his ball handling does appear to be at a high level already. He is able to go in both directions (again, there is that balance again) off the dribble without any favoritism for one hand.

Size will obviously be one of his biggest issues, but he does have a very quick release on his jumpshot. And he also can play off the ball from time to time to provide some scoring. Larkin is just as good of a shooter spotting up as he is off the bounce and has the basketball IQ to move without the ball in his hands as well.

Defensively will present the biggest obstacles for Larkin as he is neither tall or strong. Durand Scott drew a lot of the tougher defensive assignments at Miami, but in the NBA it will be impossible to hide. This is where Larkin's competitiveness, quick hands, and IQ will give him a chance to make him an adequate defender. In college, he has already demonstrated that he is a good team defender that understands when to help. Larkin's conditioning should also allow him to give maximum effort on defense. He was one of the best conditioned athletes in college basketball last season and logged over 36 minutes per game.

Heading into the draft this year was a tough decision for Larkin. He loved Miami and didn't enter the season with the NBA draft on his mind. But as chips began to fall, it made a lot of sense for Larkin to enter. Basically the entire core of the Hurricanes are graduating, leaving a lot of unknowns for next year. It was highly unlikely that Miami would share similar success they did this year and a lot of pressure would fall on Larkin's shoulders. Another year would also give scouts a chance to pick a part his game - something that wasn't done a lot this year since he practically came out of nowhere. And there is plenty to pick apart. After all, he is a sub 6 foot guard. And without teammates next year, it could be the perfect storm for scouts to begin questioning whether he is a true point or just a scorer. There is also the belief that he has already improved and done as much as he can in college, mastering the game, and he needs a new challenge.

This is a weak draft class and that also played a decision in him leaving. So did Kevin Ware's freak injury. And Marcus Smart deciding to come back to school and making the point guard pool slimmer may have been the final straw. For Larkin though, that doesn't spell an automatic first round selection. While this draft is weak and only has two sure fire first round picks at point guard, there is plenty of depth at the lead guard spot projected to go in the second round. Larkin is perfectly capable of coming out on top of that pack and earning himself a late first round selection, but he could also fall somewhere in the middle of that group and not hear his name called in the second round. All in all, Larkin's decision to go pro looks to be a smart one.

No comments:

Post a Comment