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- Measurables: 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, senior point guard from Iona
- Key Stats: 13.6 points, 9.9 assists, 1.6 steals per game, 49 percent shooting, 41 percent 3-point shooting
- Projected: Second round
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I like this guy
NOTE: I don’t normally put this in here, but if you read one part of this profile, skip to Ben Cohen’s Machado analysis at the bottom. He has a Machado anecdote that as Pistons fans and, likely, Michael Jordan haters, you won’t be disappointed by. But seriously, you should be reading every word of these profiles! — PH
When Iona surprisingly got an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, I had one reaction: Scott Machado is really fun to watch and deserves the national exposure the tourney will offer (granted, bubble teams who lost their spot in favor of Iona probably were not so happy). Then, disappointingly, Iona lost its play-in game on Tuesday in heart-breaking fashion, blowing a 25-point lead to BYU, so America’s national glimpse at Machado was a short one.
Machado is easy to like —he’s a tough as they come NYC point guard, but unlike some famous flashy New York PGs (think Kenny Andersen, Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair), Machado is a pass-first guy who led the nation in assists and was second in the country in assist percentage this season. This quote was all I needed to hear about him to have me sold. From Zach Schonbrun of The New York Times:
“I used to ask him, ‘Scott, are you sure you like basketball?’ ” Machado’s mother, Solenir, said. “He’d say, ‘I don’t like basketball, Mom, I love basketball.’ ”
Pros for the Pistons
The Pistons need guard depth. Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey are certainly penciled in as the starters for the foreseeable future, but behind them, things are up in the air. Will Bynum and Ben Gordon are both under contract for next season, but both seem to fit less and less as this season progresses. Walker Russell is a free agent after the season and although I think the Pistons probably like his attitude and work ethic enough to bring him back to camp to try and earn a spot on the end of the bench again next season, his limitations are pretty clear: he doesn’t shoot well and he doesn’t defend well.
Stuckey and Knight both have weaknesses as passers (Toronto game aside) because both guys are natural scorers. Machado would potentially fill a need in this area — much like Russell had some good moments this season because his pass-first mentality makes him a much different player than Detroit’s starting guards, Machado’s passing ability could make him a nice change of pace option.
But unlike Russell, Machado is a really good shooter as well, hitting 41 percent of his 3-pointers this season. Machado is a bit on the small side at 6-foot-1/180 pounds, but Stuckey has good size for a guard and Knight has really long arms that make him seem taller than the 6-foot-1 he’s listed at, so the Pistons can afford to have a smallish guy backing up the PG spot.
Cons for the Pistons
Machado is fast, but not necessarily super quick, if that makes sense. He’s fast pushing the ball up and down the court, but might not have as quick a first step off the dribble as typical NBA guards his size. He also doesn’t always move his feet particularly well on defense.
He doesn’t have the athleticism to go up and over people to finish inside. He gets inside for Iona and finishes by relying on his vision and basketball IQ, but his physical limitations and inability to explode to the basket might take those options away from him or at least limit them in the NBA.
Although his outside shooting has been elite this season, this is really only the first season of his college career he could be considered a true marksmen from 3-point range. He shot just 32 percent from outside last season and prior to his overall 49 percent shooting this season, his previous career high field goal percentage was 41 percent. He’s worked hard to become a better shooter, and that’s a major positive for him, but since he’s only posted those standout shooting numbers for one season, that might give teams more pause on him than if he had multiple great years shooting the ball.
Playing for a mid-major will also raise some concerns. There’s just a huge difference going from playing mid-major competition right to NBA competition. The good news for Machado is that a handful of second round mid-major guards did just that a year ago — Norris Cole (Heat), Charles Jenkins (Warriors) and Andrew Goudelock (Lakers) all made rosters with depth at the guard positions as rookies and all have played at least minor roles for their teams at different points this season. Their ability to contribute off the bat, especially without a Summer League or training camp to get a head start, should have teams realizing that it’s a mistake to overlook guys simply because the competition level might not be as strong on a game-to-game basis at the mid-major level.
What others are saying
The super quick point guard from Iona is not only leading the NCAA in assists, he’s doing it against quality competition. This is a pretty weak field of point guards this year and Machado’s skill set and ability to see the floor are winning him a lot of fans at the moment.
Defensively is where scouts will likely have their biggest questions marks with Machado. Iona mixes up its defenses quite a bit, with some pressing and some zone, so Machado hasn’t had to play as much half-court man-to-man. In what we could see, however, he looks like he has some work to do to defend point guards at the NBA level. His lateral quickness looks mediocre, he’s a bit on the smaller side, and he’s been beaten off the dribble badly on a few occasions and also has done a poor job fighting through screens. Some of this could be correctable and some could be a result of the system he’s in, but this will likely be an area that NBA teams will want to get a better gauge of as they assess his potential at the next level.
A pure, pass-first point guard, Machado’s best attribute is his incredible floor vision both in the half court and transition … The game just slows down for Machado, whose excellent anticipation as a passer meshes with his roving peripheral vision … Works the drive and dish game effectively, hitting his shooters in rhythm on the perimeter and cutters in stride through the lane … Good athlete, not great, with a quick first step and a nice burst off the dribble hesitation and over screens … Shows nice touch on finesse shots over the interior line of defense … Improved his 3pt percentage to 40% as a senior, showing fluent mechanics and a sense of comfort shooting both off the dribble and the catch … Excellent control and decision-making running the break … Shows a strong ability to protect the ball (3-1 a/to ratio).
In the past 12 months, Machado has turned into the best player you’ve never heard of on a team that might be the mid-major conference representative to wreak havoc in the NCAA tournament. His 10.4 assists per game lead the nation, while Machado is responsible for 44% of Iona’s field goals when he’s on the court, which is almost always.
Using our 2nd of 2 2nd round draft picks on this guy is sure to net value this late in the draft. That said, if Iona makes the big dance and/or we see a number of underclassmen hold off on entering the draft due to the depth expected in the 1st round, Machado could elevate his status to late 1st round/early 2nd round.
What is the best thing Scott Machado does for his team?
Anyone who watched the first half of Iona’s NCAA tournament play-in game this week — and then hopefully turned it off at halftime? — saw why Machado is considered a premium NBA guard prospect even though he plays for a team that didn’t even earn its own line on a bracket. Machado led the country with 9.9 assists per game this season while also averaging 13.6 points, the most of his career, after turning himself into the kind of pass-first gym rat who’s the last to leave at night. His tidy halfcourt passes arrive on a dime, and he’s even better out in the open court. It seems pretty logical that Machado, like the best point guards, will only make the guys around him look better.
Three more quick things about Machado. (Imagine an NBA announcer hamming up that last name.) The first is that he lost 15 pounds last summer even though he lived next to a 24-hour diner, down the road from a pizza place and across the street from a deli. Also, he put up 1,000 shots every day in the offseason because he read that’s how some NBA players had improved their form. And most bonkers of all, Machado’s first name isn’t really Scott. It’s Michael. But he asked his family and friends to stop using that name when he was 8. Why? He was a Knicks fan and couldn’t stand the sight (or sound) of Michael Jordan. “Everyone would call me Mike,” he told me a few months ago, “and I was like, ‘Don’t call me Mike. I don’t like that name.'”