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Comparing Quade Green vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander through 3 games for Kentucky Wildcats

How do the two point guards stack up after three games?

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Kansas Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Until a few weeks before the season started, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Quade Green would be the next major guard to be groomed by Calipari and lead another group of Cats on the court.

However, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander began getting some hype while turning heads in practice, and it seemed like a competition was developing for the starting point guard spot. Gilgeous-Alexander wound up getting the start for the first regular-season game, but that didn’t stick; Green wound up as the starter against both Vermont and Kansas.

Now that we are three games into the season, we’ve been able to see a little bit of both guys against meaningful competition. Interestingly, the point guard question is still hovering over this team and, thus far, there is not a clear answer as to who should win the starting job.

Green came to Kentucky expecting to follow in the footsteps of the great guards coached by Calipari. In this young season, Green is averaging 8.3 points per game on 36% shooting (20% from behind the three-point line). He’s also averaging 1.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists through three games.

He was underwhelming in the season opener, only scoring 4 points, all from the free-throw line, after coming in off the bench. He played much better in the second game as a starter against Vermont. After watching these first three games, Green seems very comfortable leading this team on the offensive end. He’s known to have a “pass-first” mentality, preferring to create for his teammates to scoring himself.

But as he showed in the Vermont game, he can score if he needs to. I like the way Green leads the offense, even if he still has some growing to do in figuring out how to get everyone involved and in learning when to be a distributor and creator and when to take the game into his own hands.

But defensively, Green has a lot to work on, especially since he doesn’t quite have the length of some of his teammates. To improve his stock and help his team be the best it can be this season, Green will have to develop some Tyler Ulis-like skills on the defensive side of the ball. I think that would really improve his game and help his case on winning the starting point guard job outright.

Gilgeous-Alexander was a virtual unknown to most people in the United States before this season. Having played his high school ball in Canada, Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t have quite the same hype as most of his current teammates. But people woke up quickly and he started to get some recognition which helped to fuel the competition between him and Green. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 7.7 points per game on 50% shooting from the field (33.3% from three). He’s also averaging 3 rebounds and 3.3 assists over his first three collegiate games.

From what I’ve seen so far, Gilgeous-Alexander is almost the exact opposite of Green. His length is tremendously helpful on the defensive side of the ball. He stands at 6’6” and has an almost 7’ wingspan; having him and Diallo at the top of a 2-3 zone is a nightmare for opposing teams. He also has good awareness on defense; he has 9 steals and a block through three games this season.

However, his offensive game is what needs the most improvement. He’s shooting the ball well (better than Green through three games), but he is very turnover prone. He was responsible for 6 of Kentucky’s 18 turnovers against Kansas and he has 12 total turnovers on the season.

It’s not just the turnovers though. When Gilgeous-Alexander is handling the point, the offense seems a little less dynamic. He doesn’t quite have the same “floor general” mentality and style that Green does.

Both of these guys are still developing their games. They both have a long way to go this season, and there is a decent possibility that at least one, maybe both, will be back for a sophomore season. However, at this point in the season, they have complementing strengths. Green seems to be the better leader on the floor offensively, and it’s hard for the 6’0” Green to compete with the length of Gilgeous-Alexander on the defensive side of the ball.

Calipari was asked after the Kansas game if he wished he could combine his two point guards. It seems to me that the result of that combination would be a beast of a basketball player.

Through three games, these two guys are still figuring out their place on this team. I can’t say right now who should be getting the starting job regularly, but Calipari said that this team doesn’t have a leader yet, he’s having to be the leader right now.

I think either of these two guys can, and should, step into that leadership role. This team needs a point guard, fortunately it has two good candidates.