Here we continue our in-depth look into the top prospects for the 2013 NBA Draft. Today we examine:
Isaiah Canaan of Murray State is projected as a late first-round pick. (Photo by Murray State/Flickr.com)
Isaiah Canaan, PG, Murray State, 6’1”, 195lbs
2012-13 Collegiate Stats: (all stats courtesy of ESPN.com)
21.8 points, 43% field goals, 37% 3-pointers, 82% free throws, 3.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals
Isaiah Canaan led Murray State to the top of the Ohio Valley Conference during his four years there. The Racers reached the NCAA tournament twice and had an outstanding 31-2 record in the 2011-12 season. Canaan and the Racers’ chances of a repeat appearance in the NCAAs were more than likely cut short after a devastating loss in overtime to Belmont in the OVC tournament championship game. Canaan’s turnover in the final seconds of overtime led to Belmont’s victory with 0.7 seconds left.
Canaan has left his mark at Murray State and will be looking to leave his mark in the NBA. He’s a prototypical shooter, looking for his shot whenever he possibly can. He can fill up the stat sheet, something not all point guards in the 2013 draft class can say.
Obviously the most exciting quality of Canaan is his shooting ability. Shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc is actually Canaan’s lowest percentage of his career. This can be attributed to the fact he, alone, is the Racers offense. Everything runs through him. With all that extra attention on him, it’s more difficult for Canaan to find open space for 3s. His shooting ability doesn’t necessarily need to be discussed much further. He’s superb.
Wanna learn to shoot 3s like Canaan? Let him teach you how:
Playing the point guard role, Canaan has developed a decent dribble-drive game. He isn’t as proficient as he needs to be in the NBA, but that can be developed. In reality, he hasn’t had to penetrate in college because the defenses of the OVC haven’t forced him to. Despite this, however, Canaan appears to move faster with the ball in his hands than without. When he doesn’t have possession of the ball, he is comfortable standing along the perimeter, waiting for his opportunity to find a small window to rise up for a deep three.
On the defensive side of the ball, Canaan’s small 6’1” frame comes into play. Because of his small size, taller opponents try to body him up and work towards the basket, but Canaan’s quick hands and swift feet allow him to hassle the ball handler. He also isn’t hesitant to pressure the ball at mid-court. He may be small, but he makes up for it by constantly moving his hands and feet on defense.
Even though Canaan has quick feet and likes to pressure the ball, once the ball handler has gotten past him, he generally gives up on the play, almost appearing defeated. Chalk this up to Canaan having an offensive mindset, seeming uninterested on the defensive end.
Canaan’s size has some shortcomings as well, obviously. He lacks jumping ability, making it difficult to finish in the paint with a defender on him. If he had great leaping skills, his size wouldn’t be an issue, but he doesn’t. Size is going to be an obstacle throughout Canaan’s NBA career.
While Canaan has great shooting range, his quick trigger could lead to some bench time at the professional level. He has no problem taking a contested 3 with a defender in his face five seconds or less into the shot clock. Canaan also likes to stick out his leg on 3-pointers to draw the foul. Considering the NBA’s current attempt to crack down on those offenders, Canaan will either have to adjust his kick leg or risk punishment from the league.
Feb. 20 at Morehead State (W 106-100 2OT) 35 points, 10-for-20 field goals, 5-for-12 3-pointers, 10-11 free throws
Coming off his worst performance of the season (12 points, 5-for-20 field goals at Eastern Illinois) Canaan came out firing on all cylinders against Moorhead State when the Racers needed him to. Making half of your shots is always good. It shows consistency in your ability to shoot and score. Canaan is the Murray State offense and he willed them to a much needed double overtime win to keep their lead in the OVC standings.
March 9 vs Belmont in OVC Tournament Championship game: 22 points, 6-for-18 field goals, 2-for-10 3-pointers, nine rebounds, 10 assists, six turnovers
It’s hard to rag on a guy who was one rebound away from a triple-double in a conference championship game against a high-quality opponent, but Canaan’s performance against Belmont ended up costing Murray State the game. It wasn’t just his poor shooting performance; you can credit that to Belmont’s stingy defense.
Canaan did not appear comfortable all game and could not find the bottom of the bucket in the most important game of the season. He rebounded and dished to teammates well, but his six turnovers made him a liability throughout the game. This was highly evident when his final turnover led to Kerron Johnson’s game-winning bucket, effectively ending Murray State’s NCAA hopes.
Potential Landing Spots:
Canaan has the scoring ability NBA teams love to have, especially in their point guards. He’s not going to amaze anybody with his ball-handling and driving skills, but a sharpshooter who can also run an offense is an asset many teams are looking for at the next level. Canaan is currently being projected as a late first-round pick, somewhere in the 22-to-30 range. There really isn’t a consensus on which slot he will be drafted in, which is the case with most late first-round projections.
Teams That Make Sense:
New York Knicks: The Knicks have been linked to Isaiah Canaan all season. Their backcourt of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd is aging. Felton has been playing at a high level this season but Kidd won’t be around the league much longer, opening up a position for backup point guard.
Adding Canaan to the bench would match him the the ultra-elusive J.R. Smith, which could become one of the most dangerous second-team backcourts in the NBA in a few years.
Utah Jazz: Utah is a team looking to rebuild in so many ways. Since Deron Williams was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the Jazz have yet to find a replacement. Currently Mo Williams is the latest point guard to attempt to fill the void. So far he has been able to keep Utah in the mix for a postseason berth, but history has shown that he is not a reliable option for the future.
Utah as a team is shooting only 35 percent from three this season, which is good for 14th in the NBA. Being in the middle of the pack isn’t going to cut it for an inconsistent team. The Jazz are one solid, consistent outside shooter away from being back in the fold in the Western Conference. Canaan could be that guy.
Isaiah Canaan’s college career is essentially over (despite a potential postseason tournament) and can now look forward to his shot at the NBA. His shooting skills are what has made him famous and will find him a home in the 2013 NBA draft. However, it will be the other things (finding interest in defense, playing with other playmakers, etc.) that will determine how successful he will become.