After a solid regular season in 2009-2010, Michigan State's Kalin Lucas had his postseason end prematurely when he suffered a torn left achilles tendon in the Spartans' opening round game of the NCAA tournament. Not only did the injury cost him the opportunity to be on the floor with his teammates as they made their run to the Final Four, but it was also a blow to any thoughts he may have had about declaring for the 2010 NBA Draft, which was perceived by many to be very thin at point guard.
Last season, Lucas continued to build upon what we already saw from him as an NBA point guard prospect. He functioned as his team's primary ball-handler initiating their half-court offense, while also spending time off the ball running off screens and freeing himself for open jump shots. His biggest strength though, is probably his understanding of how to run a team and manage the game from the point guard position. He generally makes good decisions with the ball in his hands, limits his turnovers, and does a nice job balancing getting his teammates involved and picking his spots to assert himself and look for his own offense.
As a creator off the dribble, Lucas may be somewhat limited at the NBA level due to his lack of elite explosiveness. While he does have a good top speed with the ball in his hands, he doesn't possess a lightning-quick first step. He does however display a sense of craftiness and an understanding of how to use change of pace dribbles. He's also comfortable as the ball-handler in pick-and roll situations, often making the correct reads, whether it's a drive to the basket, a jumpshot for himself, or a pass to a teammate. When attacking the basket, Lucas does a good job of initiating contact and drawing fouls, but his lack of size and elevation often prevents him from finishing at the rim.
Shooting is another strong point of Lucas's compared with other point guard prospects. According to Synergy Sports Technology, he shot a solid 42.3% on jump shots in the 2009-2010 season, with almost no difference between his off the catch and off the dribble percentages. One area for him to work on here will be improving his range, so that he can make a smooth transition to the NBA 3 point line.
While Lucas isn't an elite athlete, he does seem have the lateral speed and quickness necessary to defend NBA point guards. His lack of size and length is his biggest issue on this end, though, which could give him trouble challenging shots and defending some of the more physically imposing point guards on penetration. He'll need to continue to play with high energy and utilize his smarts and toughness to help compensate for that.
Lucas is guy who most scouts have probably already built an impression on one way or another after playing at a high major program for three seasons. While his upside may not be tremendous, he's been one of the best point guards in the college game for the past two seasons, and he possesses the all-around skill set and intangibles to potentially be a contributor as an excellent backup point guard or fringe starter in the NBA. The most important thing for him to show this season to make that happen, will be that his achilles injury is not a major concern.