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[ESPN] NBA prospect comparisons

Discussion in 'NBA Draft' started by J.R., Jun 26, 2013.

  1. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Jun 30, 2008
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    From fans to NBA executives, everyone loves making comparisons for the players in the NBA draft. Not only do such comparisons give us a better idea of how a given prospect plays, they can also help shed light on how his game will translate to the next level. The challenge is making the comparisons, and that's where my numbers come in.

    Similarity scores are at the heart of the SCHOENE projection system, and I've used the same method to compare players in the draft to their collegiate predecessors based on 13 categories, including height and weight (from the DraftExpress measurement database).

    There are a couple of shortcomings to this approach. First, there's a limited pool of draft prospects. In the NBA, SCHOENE picks among thousands of players for comparisons. My college database contains just 380 players dating back to 2003. Second, players are only compared to others within six months of age at the point they enter the draft, so no matter how similar a freshman's game might be to a senior, they won't come up as a comparison. (I have included some in the text as appropriate.)

    As a result, some comparisons are better than others. Similarity is rated on a scale that maxes out at 100. A similarity score of 95 or higher is a good match, and anything below 90 is a bit of a stretch. Keep that in mind as I go through the top four comps for the players with projections in Chad Ford's top 30.

    1. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
    Comparisons: Derrick Favors (86.3), Chris Bosh, Greg Oden, Brandan Wright

    A truly unique prospect, Noel is the only player in the top 30 without a single similarity score of 90 or better. The only player who matched Noel's combination of elite block and steal rates was Kentucky (and possibly No. 1 overall pick) predecessor Anthony Davis, but Davis was too skilled overall to appear on this list.

    2. Victor Oladipo, Indiana
    Comparisons: Evan Turner (95.2), Corey Brewer, Marcus Banks, Chris Singleton

    The player to whom Oladipo is most frequently compared, Tony Allen, has a 94.0 similarity. Allen was a year older when he was drafted out of Oklahoma State.

    3. Otto Porter, Georgetown
    Comparisons: Gordon Hayward (93.3), Alec Burks, Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay

    Despite his reputation as a non-athlete, Porter gets some excellent athletes among his best comps. Paul George also shows up in the top 10.

    4. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
    Comparisons: Brandon Bass (97.3), Derrick Williams, Ryan Anderson, Jeff Green

    Physically, Bennett and Bass are great comparisons. A couple factors make Bennett the better prospect. Superior range could eventually make Bennett a 3-point shooter, and he demonstrated more ability to create his own offense in college.

    5. Ben McLemore, Kansas
    Comparisons: Daniel Gibson (96.4), Willie Warren, Jeremy Lamb, Rashad McCants

    McLemore would surely prefer the comparison to fellow St. Louis native Bradley Beal (96.7), but Beal was nearly a year and a half younger during his freshman season. Fellow Kansas guard Brandon Rush (96.9) is another player stylistically similar, albeit much older.

    6. Alex Len, Maryland
    Comparisons: Meyers Leonard (92.7), Darrell Arthur, Robin Lopez, JaVale McGee

    Len draws a variety of projects who were generally better as NBA players, a group that also includes DeAndre Jordan.

    7. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
    Comparisons: Ronnie Brewer (93.5), D.J. Kennedy, Mardy Collins, Cory Higgins

    McCollum's comps include more shooting guards than point guards, which suggests his destiny may be off the ball. Damian Lillard ranks a bit lower in the top 10 here.

    8. Trey Burke, Michigan
    Comparisons: Reggie Jackson (92.8), Kemba Walker, Delonte West, D.J. Augustin

    Proof Burke should be a Charlotte Bobcat. He's hoping to play more like Walker -- who quietly had a strong sophomore campaign -- than Augustin, something of a worst-case comparison.

    9. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
    Comparisons: Chris Duhon (90.3), Marcus Banks, Scott Machado, Jarrett Jack

    Carter-Williams' combination of size and playmaking ability is statistically unique, at least among collegians over the last decade. Of the players 6-foot-6 or taller in my database, Julyan Stone (7.3) and Greivis Vasquez (7.0) are the lone pair with translated assist rates better than 7.0 percent of their team's plays. Carter-Williams (8.4) blows them away.

    10. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
    Comparisons: Dion Waiters (94.1), Jordan Hamilton, Rashad McCants, Paul George

    The late lottery seems about right for Caldwell-Pope by this measure; half of his top-10 comps were drafted between picks No. 9 and No. 15.

    11. Cody Zeller, Indiana
    Comparisons: LaMarcus Aldridge (95.2), Al Horford, Cedric Simmons, Josh McRoberts

    The numbers agree with the Zeller-Aldridge comparison scouts made to Chad Ford, as well as one to Chris Bosh (95.8, but a year younger).

    12. Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
    Comparisons: Robin Lopez (96.3), JaVale McGee, Patrick O'Bryant, Daniel Orton

    There's a good deal of overlap between Adams' comps and Len's group. The two center prospects have a similarity of 91.1 to each other.

    13. Sergey Karasev, Russia
    Comparisons: Martell Webster (95.3), J.R. Smith, Marvin Williams, Kevin Durant

    International prospects, including Karasev, are compared to the full database of NBA players instead of NCAA players. Few wings played in the league at such a young age. If Karasev was compared to the college database, however, nobody would score better than 90.

    14. Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
    Comparisons: Johan Petro (95.7), Brandan Wright, Jermaine O'Neal, Robin Lopez

    As a high-percentage finisher and quality shot blocker, Lopez might be the best comparison for "Bebe."

    15. Dennis Schroeder, Germany
    There are no statistical projections for Schroeder.

    16. Shane Larkin, Miami (Fla.)
    Comparisons: Patty Mills (97.7), Nate Robinson, Chris Paul, Kemba Walker

    Larkin's similarity to Mills is the highest of any NCAA comp among the top 30. He'll be much more enthused about the comparison to Paul, another quick player in a compact frame with shooting ability.

    17. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece
    There are no statistical projections for Antetokounmpo.

    18. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
    Comparisons: Markieff Morris (96.8), Jordan Hill, Darnell Jackson, Jeff Pendergraph

    Morris makes sense for Olynyk as a pick-and-pop post player who has spent more time on the perimeter than in the paint as a pro.

    19. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
    Comparisons: Kyle Weaver (94.2), Antoine Wright, Evan Turner, Terrence Williams

    Versatile wings like Franklin have a surprisingly poor NBA track record, in large part because of their perimeter shooting deficiencies.

    20. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
    Comparisons: Harrison Barnes (95.7), Terrico White, Wilson Chandler, Luke Babbitt

    The best argument Muhammad's supporters can make in his defense is the incredible similarity between his situation and Barnes' experience. Both were unable to live up to high expectations in college. During the playoffs, Barnes showed he still has considerable NBA potential.

    21. Tony Mitchell, North Texas
    Comparisons: Markieff Morris (95.1), Earl Clark, Jeff Green, Dominic McGuire

    Mitchell's ability to step to the perimeter earns comparisons to tweener forwards. None of them quite seems satisfying.

    22. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
    Comparisons: Chris Quinn (96.3), Salim Stoudamire, Dee Brown, A.J. Price

    The rest of Canaan's comps -- including Damian Lillard and Kirk Hinrich -- are more encouraging, but overall the group suggests he's more likely to be a backup than a starter in the NBA.

    23. Mason Plumlee, Duke
    Comparisons: Jackson Vroman (94.9), Miles Plumlee, Robert Sacre, Alexander Johnson

    Jackson Vroman: The lost Plumlee brother?

    24. Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
    Comparisons: Anthony Morrow (95.8), Chris Johnson, Rodney Carney, Darius Miller

    Bullock gets compared to a number of shooting specialists. That's the Chris Johnson who played briefly for Memphis last season, not the skinny center who played in Minnesota.

    25. Allen Crabbe, California
    Comparisons: Terrence Ross (96.2), Antoine Wright, Klay Thompson, Wayne Ellington

    Ross, Thompson and Crabbe all played similar styles together in the Pac-12. None of them got to the free throw line on a regular basis despite the conference's whistle-happy reputation.

    26. Ricardo Ledo, Providence
    There are no statistical projections for Ledo, who spent his only season at Providence ineligible and thus has no NCAA stats.

    27. Glen Rice Jr., NBDL
    Comparisons: Mickael Pietrus (98.7), Jumaine Jones, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Hedo Turkoglu

    If Rice is compared to the college database, his most similar player is Danny Green (97.2).

    28. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
    Comparisons: Jordan Crawford (97.3), Wayne Ellington, Terrence Ross, Arron Afflalo

    Hardaway's game is more reminiscent of another Crawford -- Jamal, also a Michigan product. However, Jamal Crawford played too early to be part of the database. The two Crawfords neatly represent the best and worst-case scenarios for volume scorers.

    29. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville
    Comparisons: Taj Gibson (95.8), Ekpe Udoh, Robert Sacre, Jackson Vroman

    Because of their defensive ability, Gibson and Udoh have been two of the most successful older draft picks in recent memory. Dieng hopes to make that 3-for-3.

    30. Tony Snell, New Mexico
    Comparisons: Sonny Weems (91.3), Terrence Ross, Arron Afflalo, Malcolm Lee

    While Ross may change this, of the seven players most similar to Snell, only Afflalo has rated better than replacement level in the NBA.
  2. haoafu

    haoafu Contributing Member

    Jun 29, 2006
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    Thanks, JR.

    The database is small, but it's a good starting point for more detailed comparison analysis.

    HMMMHMM Contributing Member

    Oct 8, 2010
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    Well, if that doesn't get you excited for the draft!


    (Thanks for posting, JR!)
  4. BigBird

    BigBird Contributing Member

    Jun 26, 2012
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    Haven't been paying attention to mock drafts lately, but wow KCP is projected as a top 10 pick. Not too long ago he was borderline first

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