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2013 NBA Draft profile: Phil Pressey


Position: Point Guard
Height, Weight: 5'11, 175

1. How will Phil Pressey be remembered?

Phil Pressey leaves Missouri with the most complicated legacy of any player the program has known. On one hand, Tiger fans know that he is one of the great individual talents in school history. A dazzling passer and ball-handler with cobra-quick hands on defense, Flip ranks first in Mizzou history in both assists and steals despite playing just three years. As a sophomore, when surrounded by talented and experienced perimeter players (Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Michael Dixon, older brother Matt Pressey), Phil helped propel an undersized Tiger team to a surprising 30 wins, a Big 12 tournament title, and a two-seed in the NCAA field. Throughout that season, Pressey asserted himself by trusting his teammates, recording nearly as many assists (6.4) as field goal attempts (7.7) per game. But Pressey will be remembered at Mizzou much differently after his play as a junior. With all of the aforementioned players gone, Flip seemed to develop trust issues with a completely revamped roster, forcing play on his own all too much. Though he continued to accumulate assists at a record rate (7.1 per game), his shot attempts per game jumped (from 7.7 to 11.0) while his field goal percentage dropped (from 42.8 to 37.6) and his turnovers increased by more than one per contest. More importantly, the Tigers were dreadful in close games, losing five that they led in the last minute of regulation, and two more where they held the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. In four of those losses, Pressey missed important (and often wild) shots in the game's last 35 seconds, and in two, he committed disastrous turnovers in the final half-minute. Too often, the Tigers couldn't win without Pressey, but they couldn't win with him, either.

2. What anecdote or story best typifies Flip's time at Mizzou?

Pressey's career in a capsule came at UCLA on December 28, 2012. He demolished the single-game Mizzou record with 19 assists (previous record: 13) and scored 19 points (on 22 shots), but the Tigers somehow managed to lose in overtime, 97-94, as Flip missed a three-point attempt with six seconds remaining. A mesmerizing performance that ended in a loss.

3. What parts of the draft evaluation coverage about Pressey do you think is wrong or missing?

Any focus on Pressey's late-game struggles as a junior paints a misleading picture of him as an NBA prospect. He was the only capable point guard on Missouri's roster, and he played at least 35 minutes in the vast majority of the Tigers' close games (he played 38 minutes or more nine times). As a sophomore, when he was surrounded by experienced talent, Pressey was a near-perfect facilitator at the point. It was only as a junior, when he was The Man, that he tried to do too much and forced wild passes and ill-advised shots. Suffice it to say that he will never be The Man in the NBA. He is going to have to defer to more experienced and more talented players, and he excels in that role.

The rest of the profile, both negative (lack of size, below-average jump shot, inability to finish in traffic) and positive (impressive speed, excellent ball skills) is spot-on.

4. What will fans of the NBA love and/or hate about Flip Pressey?

They'll love his vision and creativity. Pressey sees the play developing before it happens and he puts the ball in impossible places, often without looking. At his best, he's good for four or five "wow!" passes a game.

They'll hate his defense. Even average-sized NBA point guards will tower over him, and he won't be able to overwhelm ball-handlers with quickness like he could in college. If Pressey makes a roster, one day Russell Westbrook or Deron Williams is going to take him into the post, and it's not going to be pretty.

Offensively, the key with Pressey will always be to make him a pass-first guard. In Missouri's 23 wins in 2012-13, Pressey averaged 9.0 field goal attempts per game. In the Tigers' 11 losses, he averaged 15.2.