They Smell Like the Future: Curtis Jerrells

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 9, 2009 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Baylor Senior
6′1”, 200 lbs.
22 years old
Point guard
Projection: Undrafted
Highlights (07-08)

Thus far, the Mavs have worked out point guards and centers almost exclusively, likely in an effort to discover a valuable undrafted commodity a la J.J. Barea.  Curtis Jerrells is next in line in the point guard flock, a senior from Baylor with a quick first step and nice finishing abilities.  Unfortunately, that quickness he had in college won’t be nearly as pronounced in the NBA, and Jerrells may be left with little to show for an NBA career. 

I see a bit of a comparison between Jerrells and Philadelphia’s Louis Williams.  Jerrells is great at penetrating but in truth, he has trouble making plays if he’s not diving into the lane.  NBA defenders are bigger, faster, and stronger than their college counterparts, and Curtis’ opportunities to get into the lane will be affected as such.  His jumpshot is spotty at best, meaning CJ pans out as a point guard who doesn’t do anything particularly well on the offensive end in match-ups where his speed is negated.  He’s fast, but I doubt he’s fast enough to make a consistent impact.

Jerrells’ game really hinges on his speed.  He needs to show improvement as a distributor and a shooter if he wants to be able to run an NBA offense full-time.  Right now he seems to pan out as a nice back-up point, and perhaps a difference-maker when playing against slow-footed opponents like Steve Nash or Jose Calderon.  But for now, Curtis is a point guard without much range, and yet one that often resorts to taking ill-advised jumpers because of his lack of passing ability in a motion half-court game.  Jerrells was meant to run, and when the game gets bogged down his effectiveness does as well.

If the Mavs are looking for a third guard for the time being, I think Jerrells could be a good fit.  Maybe CJ is quicker than I think he is, and that skill combined with some work on his shooting could give the Mavs another option that is a bit taller than Barea.  But if the Mavs are looking for a defensive stopper of any kind, they need to look elsewhere.  The extra inch or so he has on Barea doesn’t mean all that much, and though Jerrells has the quickness to be at least a decent NBA defender, he never really made anything of his speed as a defender in college. 

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Jerrells.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are obviously based on Jerrells’ four-year career at Baylor.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

Interestingly enough, Barea popped up as a similar player to Jerrells.  Though note the discrepenacies: the marked difference in assists, and even Barea’s edge in rebounding.  In the past year, we’ve seen enough of Barea to know that he’s a sturdy back-up point guard.  He’s undersized, but he works incredibly hard.  He can contest every shot, but he does draw offensive fouls.  And, for what it’s worth, he’s a slightly better scorer and passer than Jerrells.  I think CJ can offer something similar to Barea’s burst of energy off the bench, but until he showcases his quickness on the next level, I remain unconvinced.