2014 NBA Draft: Player Comparisons for Top Prospects
With the postseason underway and lottery bound teams prepping for the draft, franchises like the Bucks and Magic have their scouting department working day and night to evaluate top talents in this year’s draft class.
During this evaluation period, some scouts will come up with player comparisons, to give team executives a better idea of how prospects will pan out in the NBA. Sometimes these comparisons can be spot on and other times they prove to be just dead wrong.
So for all the draft junkies out there, read on to see how a few top prospects could develop at the next level.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, SF
Best Case Scenario: Tracy McGrady
Worst Case Scenario: Rudy Gay
Maybe Wiggins isn’t the next LeBron James, but he definitely has the potential to develop into a bonafide scorer like Tracy McGrady.
Just like T-Mac, Wiggins is an extremely athletic wing, with excellent ball handling abilities and a smooth jumpshot. During his lone season at Kansas he showed some flashes of his scoring potential, lighting up West Virginia with 41 points on 12 of 18 shooting from the floor (video above).
There’s no question Wiggins could become an effective offensive force at the next level, the only thing stopping him is whether or not he can handle the pressures of becoming a team’s go-to option.
Jabari Parker, Duke, SF/PF
Best Case Scenario: Carmelo Anthony
Worst Case Scenario: Michael Beasley
If you think for a second that Jabari Parker doesn’t resemble Carmelo Anthony at the slightest, you’re crazy!
Even Anthony believes Parker’s style of play is a lot like his, telling Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report, “I see a lot of similarities.”
Both Parker and Anthony are dynamic on the offensive end of the floor, possessing the ability to post up inside or even stretch out to the perimeter, causing a mismatch at either forward position on any given night.
The only negative for Parker is he’s considered a tweener at 6’8″, and like many others (Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, Anthony Bennett… you get the idea) could struggle playing against larger and quicker forwards at the next level.
Joel Embiid, Kansas, C
Best Case Scenario: Hakeem Olajuwon
Worst Case Scenario: Roy Hibbert
Embiid’s physical tools alone indicate he has the potential to be a lights out defender, standing at 7’0″, with a massive 7’5″ wingspan.
But what really has scouts raving is his rare cheetah-like mobility, labeled as one of the fastest big men in college basketball thanks to his previous experiences playing volleyball and soccer back in his hometown of Cameroon.
His offensive game is clearly still a work in progress, but what’s impressive is he’s already shown flashes of an Olajuwon-like post-up game in limited action during his freshman campaign.
Even if he never develops a refined offensive game, at worst he could potentially evolve into a defensive anchor like DeAndre Jordan or Roy Hibbert.
Dante Exum, Australia, PG/SG
Best Case Scenario: Penny Hardaway
Worst Case Scenario: Shaun Livingston
Introducing the top international prospect in this draft class, 6’6″ combo guard Dante Exum.
The Australian phenom has been on scouts’ radars for a while now, displaying the offensive versatility to play either guard position and possessing excellent floor general skills for a player of his size.
We don’t know how he will fare against stronger competition at the next level, but all signs indicate he should have an illustrious career if he’s able to adapt to the rigors of the NBA.
Julius Randle, Kentucky, PF
Best Case Scenario: David Lee
Worst Case Scenario: Brandon Bass
Time and time again we’ve heard Julius Randle draw comparisons to Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph, but the truth is they’re not as identical as one might think.
Jonathan Tjarks of SB Nation recently wrote an excellent piece on this topic, comparing and contrasting the sole difference between the two: Their wingspan.
“Randle is often compared to Zach Randolph, another 6’9 left-hander. Z-Bo, though, has some of the longest arms at the position in the NBA. His wingspan is not in the DX database, but a Google search of “Zach Randolph wingspan” turns up results in the 7’4-7’5 range. That explains how he consistently scores over bigger and more athletic defenders; he has arms like a condor. Griffin’s 6’11.25 wingspan, in contrast, is one reason why he can struggle in post.”
If Randle fails to generate efficient offense in the paint against larger defenders, it will make him a complete offensive liability to any team. In order for him to thrive as a low post player, it’s key he models his game after David Lee, who like Randle has a less than desirable wingspan but uses an array of offensive moves to generate points in a hurry.
Noah Vonleh, Indiana, PF/C
Best Case Scenario: Chris Bosh
Worst Case Scenario: Better Shooting Ed Davis
Like Chris Bosh, Noah Vonleh has the ability to stretch defenses with his outside shooting, knocking down an astounding 48.5 percent of his shots from downtown.
He also has a natural feel in the post with his back to the basket, creating high-percentage shots for himself with either hand and using an arsenal of low post moves to create nightmares in the paint for any opposing defender.
It will take at least a few more years before Vonleh can fully reach his potential, but there’s no doubt he could be a stud in this league if he continues to progress as a player.
Follow Evan Caulfield on Twitter @fieldhoops