Shane Larkin - PG - SO - Miami (FL)
Shane Larkin has emerged this season as one of the best offensive point guards in the country, as he has led Miami to a top-10 ranking and a spot atop the ACC standings. Larkin’s offensive breakout this year starts with his much-improved jump shot, especially from behind the arc. Larkin has a quick release and sound for on his jump shot. He has great balance, squares up his shoulders, and possesses a good follow through. He has average to above-average catch and shoot ability, but he really excels taking a few dribbles over his screen to his right and pulling up for a shot. Larkin has displayed a step-back jumper at times, but nowhere at the level of his pull-up jumper on the right side of the key. Larkin excels in the pick-and-roll sets, which is a translatable NBA skill. He can shoot off the screens or get to the area of the free throw line, where he has good vision in finding shooters on the wings. He has enough quickness to beat his man off a screen or get around a hedging big man, leading to breakdowns in the defense. Larkin’s turnover rate has hardly increased even with a substantial uptick in minutes, as his turnover rate has dropped to an impressive 16.2%. Larkin can run a half court pick and roll offense, with the ability to hit a midrange jump shot or get into the key and dish to open shooters.
Larkin is definitely developing as a passer, but he does not display the elite passing instincts of a natural point guard. There are questions about his role in the NBA, because his size is not ideal for that of a combo guard. Larkin struggles with entry passes because of his size, preferring to sit at the top of the key and kick out to wings rather than venture deeper into the paint and look for his big man rolling to the hoop. Larkin possesses solid quickness, but is not quick enough to consistently beat his man off the dribble without getting a ball screen. Because of this, there are times that the offense loses some movement when he is at the point. If there is not a high screen, Larkin struggles to create his own offense. He is an average finisher in the paint and at the rim, at best, because of his lack of size and elite explosiveness. Larkin is improving in transition, but this area is certainly not his strength. He loves going to his right, but has no left hand, either at the rim or pulling up and shooting from the left wing. He is a small point guard who lacks elite athleticism and is still polishing his game as a dribble-drive passer.
Larkin’s defensive strength is playing off the ball and getting steals because of his great anticipation skills. He is a crafty defender off the ball who displays active hands and a penchant for prying the ball loose when it lands in the hands of opponents who are not comfortable handling the ball. He plays with an outstanding motor on defense, making up for his size with great intensity and a nose for the ball. He displays foot speed good enough to keep his man in front of him when he has length behind him. Larkin rebounds well for his size, and loves to drift to the top of the key when a shot goes up to protect against a long rebound. His anticipation skills on the glass are solid, as Larkin adds value as a point guard who can grab a rebound and get a team set in their half court offense.
Larkin has shown that he can guard one-on-one for stretches with help, but he is far from an elite defender on the ball. His lateral quickness is good but not great, and there are obvious size limitations that could very well trouble Larkin at the next level. His size makes him susceptible to getting lost in pick and roll defense or against an off-the-ball screen for a shooter. He is prone to ball-watching at times when he is off the ball, and often gambles too aggressively, leading to defensive breakdowns. Against larger point guards or even elite athletes, Larkin does not match up well because he lacks an elite defensive skill. His steal numbers provide value, but his aggression off the ball are just as likely to hurt his team in a league with improved wing shooters and better ball movement from side to side.
Larkin has appeared on the radar of NBA scouts because his jumper and point guard skills have improved drastically this season. He possesses strong ability in the catch and shoot as well as the pull up jumper after a few dribbles. Larkin is excellent in the pick and roll, as he excels in his decision making once he gets around the screen and is a threat to shoot or kick out to open shooters. His vision is improving with every game, as is his ability to run the break and get to the hoop in transition. But Larkin is still a bit of a ‘tweener’ as an NBA prospect because he lacks the size for a combo guard but still needs to show he can create offense outside the pick and roll. Defensively, he gets steals with good anticipation and active hands off the ball, but is a liability on the ball against speed and athleticism because of his size and lack of elite quickness. If Larkin continues to shoot well from deep and shows an improved NBA range to go along with his midrange ability, he will improve his stock as a scoring point guard who can run the NBA-style pick and roll sets. But as a small point guard, there will always be limitations because of his size, limitations that Larkin does not necessarily make up for with athleticism.