Chalmers Rock (Chalk) Solid

Mario Chalmers (Steve Puppe photo)

Mario Chalmers hit The Shot in the national championship game against Memphis. Now, he's ready for his next shot in the NBA.

One NBA scout believes Mario Chalmers is one of the top five point guards in the draft and will be selected anywhere from No. 20 to 27 in the first round.

Chalmers’ stock has improved since his three-pointer versus Memphis pushed KU into overtime and to its third NCAA championship.

“That definitely helped,” the scout said. “He’s a guy who’s not afraid to take the big shot. I think he’s done pretty well in workouts, which has helped his stock. Then you get a guy like Ty Lawson (of North Carolina) who drops out of the draft and Darren Collison (of UCLA) who goes back to school. There’s not a whole lot of great point guards, other than the top couple of guys in the draft. You look on the list, and Mario is kind of next.”

The big question surrounding the 6-1 Chalmers is whether he can play point guard in the NBA Chalmers started his college career at point guard, but struggled and was moved to the two guard, where he blossomed into a standout performer.

“He played it (point guard) his entire high school career so it’s not like he’s going to move over to a position that’s completely new to him,” the scout said. “The biggest thing is you can tell a guy’s basketball IQ will determine if (he) can make a switch from college to the NBA. He’s a smart kid and he knows the game.

“(With) Mario, they ran some pick and roll at Kansas, which is primarily what a point guard position — that’s the bread and butter— if you can make a play on a pick and roll, you’re going to have some success at our level, and he did that at Kansas. He wasn’t your traditional bring the ball up the floor kind of guard, but I think he’ll be fine making that transition. It’s going to take him a little time, but I don’t have concerns down the road for him.”

Of course, there will be a learning period for Chalmers and the other rookie point guards entering the League.

“Even a true point guard like D.J. Augustin (of Texas), there’s an adjustment to playing in the NBA because you got a shorter shot clock (than college) so there’s more pressure on you to make something happen,” the scout said.

The scout said Chalmers doesn’t yet have the ability to create his own shot in the NBA.

“He needs a screen to help him get stuff, but other than the really elite players in our league, most guys need a screen,” he said. “Guys are so athletic anymore that it’s hard to completely get by a guy and get a high percentage shot. The elite players can do that, but a guy like Mario, who’s going to be kind of a role player, he’s going to need some help.

“It’s going to be hard for him at our level to do it at his size. It’s not like he has great quickness either and he’s not ultra crafty with the ball. It will be hard to give him the ball and say, ‘Go create a good shot.’ I don’t know if he’s that type of player.”

Still, the scout predicts a very productive NBA career for the ex-Jayhawk.

“He’s definitely a rotation player,” the scout said. “If you put him with really good players around him and all he has to do is kind of make open shots and defend his position, then I think he can have a long, successful career. He’s got to have some pretty good players around him because if he’s your number one or number two man, I don’t think that’s him.”

Can he be a starting point guard?

“Not immediately,” said the scout, “but I think in time he could be. Yes.”

Draftexpress.com said that Chalmers’ best case comparison would be to Jarrett Jack of the Portland Trail Blazers. Jack is the Blazers’ starting point guard who has averaged 9.5 points and 4.0 assists in his three-year career. However, the scout doesn’t think that’s a good comparison.

“(Mario is) much smaller than Jarrett (6-3, 197 pounds),” he said. “He’s a better shooter than Jarrett coming out (of college). Jarrett is probably a little better at attacking the paint. Jarrett uses his size well. Mario is a better off the ball defender, but I think they’re comparable on the ball. Jarrett’s advantage is he has size and strength at his position. Jarrett will kind of bowl his way to the paint, which Mario doesn’t have the body or size to do that.”

The scout, instead, likens Chalmers to another solid point guard in the NBA.

“I think he can do some of the same things that Daniel Gibson does for Cleveland. That’s who I would probably compare him to,” the scout said of the former Texas star who averaged 10.4 points per game and shot 44 percent from three-point range last season, his second year in the NBA.

Overall, the scout likes what he sees from Chalmers. He’s been scouting him since observing Chalmers in practices the week before the McDonald’s All-Star game during Super Mario’s senior year of high school.

“He knows how to play and he can shoot the ball and make shots,” the scout said. “He’s pretty athletic for his size and a good defender. He’s rock solid.”

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