There are plenty of options at the point guard this year but probably no real playmakers. The point guards on the roster (alphabetical):
- Kelvin Grady – 5’11” Soph.
- Laval Lucas-Perry – 6’3″ RS Fr. (combo guard, eligible at midseason)
- CJ Lee – 6’0″ 5th Yr Sr
- Dave Merritt – 5’10” 5th Yr Sr
It’s hard to pick a starter at this point, Kelvin and CJ both gotÂ substantial playing time throughout last year, both starting for stretches. Merritt came on strong at the end of the year (who could forget his effort in last year’s Ohio State game). Here is a side by side comparison of Kelvin, CJ, and Merritt’s stats from last year. Kelvin started 25 games to CJ’s 7.Â Here are the quick hitters from their stats last year:
For right now I’m going to focus on the bulk of the non-conference season before Laval Lucas-Perry is eligible. At this point I have trouble handicapping the race at starting point guard. I wouldn’t be shocked if any one of CJ, Kelvin, or Dave trotted out next Thursday as the starting point guard. This might sound like crazy talk to some people who just expect Kelvin to be the guy but I don’t expect Kelvin to be the starter early on.
The popular choice to start at point guard from the fans perspective is Kelvin Grady, he is the scholarship point guard and everyone expects him to be the answer. Thus far he just hasn’t shown that he can separate himself from the pack and be the guy. Kelvin Grady clearly has the most potential and best athleticism of the bunch, he even has the best shooting numbers and a comparable assist to turnover ratio to CJ Lee. The fact remains that all through last year he just couldn’t eliminate the poor mistakes. Whether it be forcing passes, shots, or just dumb turnovers, Beilein isn’t going to accept that at the point guard spot on this team.
CJ Lee appears to be the leader of the group, someone who isn’t afraid to talk on the court and help out his teammates. CJ plays smart and takes relatively good care of the ball but he just isn’t a threat to score like Kelvin is. CJ shot only 33% from the field to Kelvin’s 40%. Kelvin was by no means a consistent player but when he was on he could hit the three and score the ball better than CJ. Throughout most of last year CJ’s jump shot was not a thing of beauty.
Dave Merritt is a guy who doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses or glowing strengths. I think CJ is a better defender than Merritt while Kelvin is better at scoring the ball but Dave is just the safe play out of the group. Merritt isn’t going to force passes or shots, but he isn’t going to make any plays on his own either. I worry about Merritt against tight ball pressure but he didn’t have that high of turnover numbers so maybe this is just in my imagination.
Beilein is in a jam because Kelvin is the younger guy with the most potential and 2 more years ahead of him. But with the arrival of Darius Morris next year you have to to wonder if Kelvin will ever be the starting point guard for this team. If Kelvin can’t beat out CJ and Dave this then you have to think that Darius Morris would be the starting point guard for this team next year (he might be anyways).
Because of Kelvin’s higher ceiling (athletically and offensively) it is critical for this team for Kelvin can elevate his game and take it to the next level. Beilein has said that he only wants to go eight or nine men deep and if he does it appears someone at the point guard spot is going to be left behind.
I think that CJ Lee is your early season starter but the minutes will break down pretty evenly (with some coming at the two). Beilein will probably use CJ, Dave, and Kelvin situationally. CJ is the better defender, Kelvin the better shooter, and Merritt is the most transparent.
I frown about putting two 6 foot and under guys on the court at the same time but with Manny’s move to the wing, lack of depth at the two-guard, and Laval sitting out until December 20th I’d assume it will have to happen in the non-conference season. None of the three are good enough scorers to be a traditional two-guard but both guard spots play similar roles in Beilein’s offense.
I’ll look more at the two guard in my next position breakdown and more about Laval Lucas-Perry’s addition to the roster in December.