Every year around the draft time people love to come up with player comparisons for the top draft prospects. In fact, I have decided to come up with my own player comparisons for the top ten draft prospects according to ESPN.
10. Coby White
Position: Point guard
College: North Carolina
Player Comparison: Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson is a player who has a very similar frame to Coby White. Clarkson stands at 6’5” and weights 194 lbs. and both have very similar games. Both of these players can score and score quickly. They have the potential to have a big scoring game anytime they step on the court.
They are excellent in the open court but need improvement in the half-court setting. When they want to they can both facilitate the ball very well, Coby White has a better potential of being a better passer. But they both make erratic decisions at times with the ball in their hands.
Clarkson and White are considered streaky shooter when they are on they are really on but when they are off you hope they try to swing the ball more. Clarkson sometimes brings the ball up an initiates the offense for Cleveland but is primarily used off the ball as a two-guard. I see White initially being a point guard, but would not be shocked if he is utilized as a two guard and mainly as someone who goes and gets buckets. Much like how Clarkson is used in Cleveland.
White, I believe has the potential to be a solid starter in the NBA for a while, but would not be surprised if he is able to get to an All-Star level at some point in his career.
9. Jaxson Hayes
Player Comparison: Mason Plumlee
Jaxson Hayes is a bouncy big man who does a great job of running the floor. He is a player that knows his job out there on the court, he is there to rebound, block shots and finish easy buckets inside. Very similar to Denver Nuggets big man Mason Plumlee. A player with similar attributes to that of Hayes. They won’t wow you with offensive skills, but they bring their hard hat on every day and do the dirty work for your team.
Plumlee is a player who has carved out a nice career doing these little things of just running the floor, being a rim protector, grabbing boards and finishing in the paint. I see an identical career shaping out for Hayes, someone who is going to be in this league for a long time just off doing the little things that are so important to a basketball team.
I think Hayes will try to improve his jump shot and be able to adapt offensively to become a modern big man. But if he does not, then he will still be of tremendous value to a team he might struggle to become one of the better players in the league.
8. Sekou Doumbouya
College: None (International)
Player Comparison: Pascal Siakam
Although Siakam might be a little bit of an extreme comparison for someone who very few people have seen play. Doumbouya carries a similar skill set to that of Siakam’s. Both long rangy players who can play both ends of the floor. Both have the ability to shoot the ball from deep if asked upon. They are identical in their ability to play in the open court.
Siakam was also unheard of when he was drafted back in 2016 coming out of New Mexico State. But since then has transformed himself into one of the best young players the NBA has to offer. When he was drafted however I don’t think there was a single person who believed that Siakam would turn out to become the player he is today.
Doumbouya is a raw player who needs time to grow, much like Siakam did. The only aspect that hurts Doumbouya compared to Siakam is that Doumbouya will be a lottery pick most likely and expectations will be high for the young man. This has the possibility to stunt his growth if not handled correctly. Siakam was able to improve based off being able to get game time by playing in the G-League. I Hope whatever team drafts Doumbouya realizes that he is a young raw player who needs playing time and I hope they don’t feel the pressure of playing him in NBA games. They should send him to the G-League for a little bit to develop his game, like what the Toronto Raptors were able to do for Siakam.
7. Cam Reddish
Player Comparison: Brandon Ingram
The two former Duke products have similar games and attributes. They excel at creating their own offense, even though Reddish was unable to show this aspect of his game at Duke due to the excessive amount of talent on the roster, he has the ability to create his own shot. Ingram and Reddish have a problem of falling in love with the three-point shot a little bit too much.
Both players are extraordinary talents who many believe can be elite players in the NBA if they are ever able to put their minds into the game. Although I do believe Ingram is a very good player and I think his numbers would be All-Star level if I weren’t for the arrival of LeBron James and if he wasn’t plagued with injuries. As players, they both check off everything that you would want in an elite basketball player.
I think if Reddish is able to get into the right situation, where the team allows him to be one of the go-to-guys that he will flourish in this league and will be a multiple time All-Star. But that being said I think he really needs to be in the right situation, which very much could happen to be where he is slotted to get selected. I would not be surprised if over the next couple of weeks leading up to the draft if you don’t see Cam Reddish’s name slid up boards based off his immense talent and potential.
6. Jarrett Culver
College: Texas Tech
Player Comparison: Young Jimmy Butler
I’m not saying that he will become Jimmy Butler, but I’m also not saying that he could not become Jimmy Butler. He holds very similar traits to Butler. The guys are grinders and excellent defenders. Both of them took off offensively after a year or two in college and became somewhat of the main guys on each of their college teams. Culver has greatly improved his offensive game from his freshman year and led the Red Raiders all the way to the National Championship game.
I think that Culver will be asked to do nearly the same assignment that Jimmy Butler had in his early years in Chicago, of being a defensive player first and an offensive second. The former college standout will give teams the luxury of being a player who won’t need the ball in order to be effective on the floor, the same way Butler was able to get laying time in his early years in Chicago.
However, I do think that Culver has a little bit of an all-around offensive game than Butler did in college. I think Culver is one of the few players in the draft who could almost fit on anyone’s team and be able to provide immediately. Culver much like Butler is excellent in the mid-range and the ability to get to the basket. He is not as thick as Butler was coming out of Marquette but I believe Culver will put on weight.
I think that Culver has the chance of being a very productive pro with the potential of being a guy who averages 18-21 points per game.
5. De’Andre Hunter
Player Comparison: Thaddeus Young
Hunter is a player who could do a little bit of everything but makes his mark on the defensive ends, considered one of the best defenders in college basketball. Hunter shoots the ball from the perimeter, mid-range and has an ability to get to the hoop. He has tremendous upside and has the typical look at you want in an NBA player.
Thaddeus Young is a very good player has carved out a great career and has been a big part of every team he has been a part of. Young has similar dimensions to Hunter, standing at 6’8” and weighing in at 221lbs. The Pacer forward does a little bit of everything as well, can stroke it from deep, hit a mid-range jumper and gets to the rim well. Young is known more for his defensive of prowess and defending much of the elite wings in the league.
This is what makes Hunter such a tantalizing prospect, his ability to defend. He will be asked early on in his career to defending other elite wing players, and his ability to score the basketball will be a huge bonus. The value of players who are 3 and D players is such an assist and a necessity in today’s NBA.
4. Darius Garland
Position: Point Guard
Player Comparison: Mo Williams
Darius Garland did not play much in college due to an early-season injury, which cost him to lose the remainder of his freshman year. But was once considered one of the top guards in the country coming out of high school. Garland’s game is based around his ability to shoot the ball. The guy can shoot that ball. This leads to him being able to get into the paint with ease. Garland, like many young point guards, has to improve as a facilitator, he can get into the lane but struggles to finish at times and has to improve as a defender.
He reminds me of a lot of Mo Williams, who is best known for being the second guy to LeBron on those early Caviler teams. Williams, the one-time All-Star, was known for his ability to shoot from beyond the arc. A player who could get hot quick and score in bunches. Both around the same size, Williams perhaps a little smaller, but their games are very similar.
I think Garland has the ability to have a little bit of a better career than Williams did, based on the era of basketball that we are in. One that emphasizes the ability to shoot the ball. It all depends on how Garland will bounce back from this injury.
3. RJ Barrett
Player Comparison: Tobias Harris
Barrett can do almost everything on the offensive end of the floor, he still has to improve on his outside shot but is a tremendous facilitator. Barrett has a high basketball IQ and has the prototypical size and build of an elite NBA player. The former Duke standout will improve in time and I believe to become an outstanding NBA player. He has a knack that every great NBA player needs and that’s the ability to get to the free throw line.
Tobias Harris is a great offensive player and has much if the same intangibles that Barrett possess. I think that Harris is an underrated passer and has the ability to be a go-to guy for a franchise. I think in the long run that Barrett could have the potential of being a lot better player than Tobias Harris is but right now his abilities suit that of Harris.
Barrett is one of the three guys in this draft that people have penciled in to be a superstar. Remember Barrett was the top player coming out of high school and many NBA people believe that he would be the number one pick before the start of the college season. Steve Nash’s godson will have the opportunity to be one of the top echelon players in the league.
2. Ja Morant
Position: Point Guard
College: Murray State
Player Comparison: De’Aaron Fox
Morant is the player that came out of nowhere this past college season, some people in the beginning of the year had him as a late first round pick or second round. But after the season he had it allowed the Murray State product to skyrocket up NBA draft boards. Morant is a rare athlete with the ability to finish at the rim along with his blinding speed. Morant can score on all three levels and is an excellent facilitator. He is not the best defender at the moment but that will improve as he gets into the league. Also has a tendency to be too flashy with some of his passes but I have a feeling it’s due to the lower talent that he faced throughout his career.
Not quite the defender as Fox but their style of play is very similar. Morant probably a better shooter that Fox at this point in both of their career, but they both can score on all three levels. They use their athleticism and know how to use it to benefit their games. These quick guards have similar builds. Both are a joy in transition and are not afraid to dunk on a big man.
Morant will have a similar career to Fox. I think both young players have the ability to become future All-Stars. They are or going to be the lead guards of young and upcoming teams. Both players are people that you can build your franchise around.
1. Zion Williamson
Player Comparison: Blake Griffin
Probably one of the most talked about prospects in the draft since 2009, when Blake Griffin came out of Oklahoma. Zion is a tremendous athlete who can change the momentum of a game with one jaw-dropping dunk or block. His emotion for the game is contagious and whatever team drafts him, (cough, cough, New Orleans, cough, cough), will get a player that the fan base can really get behind and love. Williamson was able to show in college that if you leave him open, has the ability to knock down open jump shots. An outstanding rebounder and a good and willing defender, which something that is hard to find in young players. The best part of his game is that he does not need the ball to create his offense, which will allow other players to dominate the ball.
Blake Griffin was also a great athlete with the ability to dunk the ball almost every time he touched the ball. Griffin was able to make the Clippers a team that players wanted to go to and a team that fans wanted to watch. Griffin was not known as a jump shooter but worked on his game and now has a complete all-around game.
Williamson’s passion for the game is so great that I think he will be All-Star multiple times, based off his game and the fact that fans are going to love him. Williamson has the ability to make a franchise from going unwatchable to watchable.