As you well know if you've been following our draft profiles here at Mid-Major Madness, you know that this year's crop of prospects is guard heavy, and that one of the more highly regarded guard prospects from the mid-major ranks is Iona point guard Scott Machado.
I recently linked to a piece written by ESPN's Doug Gottlieb that discussed Machado as a prospect and mentioned some comparables for him that seemed rather disparate. Since I know next to nothing about Machado myself, I enlisted John Templon (the genius mind behind Big Apple Buckets) to assist me in telling you the truth about what Machado can likely become.
Mid-Major Madness - So let’s start at the beginning for our readers. What exactly is your perspective on Scott Machado and the Northeast sports scene?
John Templon - Well, Iona was probably the top team in the area last season, so I got to see Machado play numerous times in person and on TV. He certainly finished the season as the most accomplished player in the area as well, winning the Haggerty Award as the top collegiate player in New York City.
MMM - Indeed. So what was your impression of Machado on the court - both as a player overall, and more importantly as a point guard?
JT - Well, as a point guard he's really impressive as a playmaker. He's got good instincts with the basketball, and with Iona he had a lot of opportunities to spread the ball to a number of scorers, which is why his assist totals were so high. He's certainly more comfortable in the open floor, and Iona and head coach Tim Cluess definitely stressed that last season, but he's actually not a bad shooter either - he shot 40% from three last season with almost 100 attempts.
One of the things I didn't think Machado got enough credit for last season is that even at 6'1", he had to take on a lot of responsibility in terms of rebounding and defense - as the point guard who was starting all those breaks, Machado still had the fourth best rebounding rate of any Iona player. The one thing I will say about him as a point guard, and I know others have mentioned it - I think you can slow Machado down. When Iona was in half court sets last season and needed a big basket, their offense (especially Machado) struggled, and at least a little of that has to be on him.
MMM - Do you mean to say that with his current skill set he needs to play up-tempo to succeed? More to the point, do you think that his future NBA employer can round out his game to be effective in any tempo, or is he the kind of guy who needs a D'Antoni-like fast break style to truly flourish?
JT - I think that with his current skill set he's certainly more effective in an up-tempo game, but I think he can develop into a player that can play in any tempo. He has the physical skills - even at his height he was able to attack the rim consistently in college, and he's got excellent vision as a point guard. I just think that the offense Cluess ran at Iona, he was asked to play a certain way. I also think that Machado has shown over the past few seasons that he can learn and develop new skills. He improved in a big way each season at Iona.
MMM - Which leads (quite conveniently) to my next question. Gottlieb earlier this month said that Machado's floor was Sebastian Telfair, and his ceiling was Stephon Marbury. Do you think either of those comparisons are fair?
JT - I do think that a floor like Telfair is accurate for Machado. No matter what, he should be a decent rotation player in the NBA in a season or two and a solid #2 PG during his career. He just does too many things well now - it's hard to see him not fulfilling that expectation. The Marbury comparison is a little odd for me, because I just don't think Machado will ever score that much at the NBA level
MMM - …because he isn't that kind of shoot-first point guard, or because he can't score like that?
JT - The former. If he needed to I'm pretty sure Macahado could score at that level. As I mentioned, he’s a pretty good shooter, and it's something he's worked hard on. I just think he'd look to pass more - I see his ceiling as something like 13 - 14 PPG, 10 APG, and 4 - 5 RPG. I think that's still a starting point guard in the NBA, even if it's not quite Marbury at his peak.
MMM - That sounds a lot more like, say, Rajon Rondo (with the right supporting cast) than it does Marbury, don’t you think?
JT - Yeah, except whereas Rondo's game is built a lot on his length, Machado's is built a lot on strength - but similar type production I'd think. Machado will shoot better than Rondo, especially from the free throw line.
MMM - I feel like that kind of production should have people thinking bigger than "late first round" for Machado, given how well Rondo's growth as a player has gone.
JT - Well, I think if you asked Doug Gottlieb he'd say that's the case. I think NBA evaluators are concerned about whether or not Machado can transition, because the game he played Iona is very different from the NBA. The physical skills seem to be there, but there's certainly going to be a learning curve. I really think Machado will get selected in round one. I'm really interested to see where.
MMM - That sounds like you think he will go higher than projections
JT - Not too much higher, but I could see him going low-to-mid 20's – DraftExpress on the other hand has him going at #51 to the Celtics currently. Some other evaluators agree that he won't go in round one at all, so we'll see.
MMM - Of course; so would it be fair to say that he would do best in a system where a) he got to be the #2 PG for a couple years, b) that backup time allowed him to learn to slow his game down when he needs to, and c) there was at least one go-to option on the floor already?
JT - I think that all sounds fair to me.
MMM - Sweet. Let me go call Sam Presti.
Thanks to John for his time in putting this together. Keep your eyes on the NBA Draft in only 11 days to see just how accurate we are.