This article will break down the most fitting NBA comparisons for the top 10 prospects listed on ISH’s Hank Stichter’s NBA Draft Big Board.
Jabari Parker – SF
NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
While Jabari Parker has drawn several Carmelo Anthony comparisons in his college days, Parker has the potential to be better than Melo. Parker offers more athleticism at the small forward position and much, much more defense.
His output will likely depend on where he is drafted, but don’t be surprised if he fulfills these big shoes in his first few seasons in the NBA.
Andrew Wiggins – SF
NBA Comparison: Poor man’s LeBron James
This may be a bit generous, but Wiggins’ upside is just too high to rank anything below superstar. Wiggins’ game is too drive -oriented to be compared to Kevin Durant and too fast paced to be compared to Paul George, so LeBron is the next best fit.
I am not saying Wiggins will jump into the league and have a LeBron like impact, or even that he will at any point in his career, but he has that ceiling.
Dante Exum – G
NBA Comparison: Michael Carter-Williams / Damian Lillard Hybrid
Dante Exum is basically a faster Michael Carter-Williams who can shoot. Thats it. So, Damian Lillard gets packaged with MCW in the comparison.
Exum is going to make noise in the league immediately, constantly drawing mismatch after mismatch at the guard position. Only the most elite defenders will be able to stay in front of Exum, which has been the situation with both Lillard and Carter-Williams.
Joel Embiid – C
NBA Comparison: Dwight Howard
Perhaps the most realistic comparison to an all star listed here, Embiid really has the potential to be a cornerstone franchise-changing piece in his first season, much like Anthony Davis did in his first year.
Embiid offers ridiculous athleticism at the center position. Whether he goes #1 or #5, Embiid will have an effect on the game blocking and adjusting shots, scoring in the paint, and doing what Dwight Howard does best – rebounding.
Julius Randle – PF
NBA Comparison: David West / David Lee hybrid
Randle lacks the athleticism of the elite power forwards in the league, which is what draws the David Lee comparison, but also plays angry much like David West. Randle is truly a beast when he gets the ball, and no one wants to step in his way on his trip to the hoop.
David Lee and David West both have a nice outside stroke, which Randle lacks. But, that is a skill that Randle can easily train himself to do. Randle may fall in the draft due to a rumored injury, but no matter where he falls, Randle will make an immediate impact on the NBA.
Marcus Smart – G
NBA Comparison: Lance Stephenson
Smart is a tough guy to really tag with a comparison. He is a bulldog sort of point guard that can rebound, pass, and shoot the three. Lance Stephenson comes to mind because the way these two players share a big frame but great mobility and versatility.
You could really play both Stephenson and Smart at the small forward position if you really needed. Smart is a box score angel, just as Stephenson was this past season, leading the league with 5 triple doubles. I am sure that Smart’s 23 point,13 rebound, 6 assist, 7 steal game in the NCAA tournament this past March will convince doubters of this comparison.
Aaron Gordon – F
NBA Comparison: Shawn Marion
Gordon and Blake Griffin comparisons have fallen off in the last few months, and that is probably for the best. Gordon has sky high potential, but he also has potential to follow the footsteps of a former Arizona Wildcat of whom he plays very similar to – Derrick Williams.
Hopefully, for the sake of the highlight reel, Gordon turns out to be more of a Shawn Marion type. He provides excellent defense and, in his younger days, provided a soaring offensive weapon for his team.
Noah Vonleh – PF
NBA Comparison: Poor man’s Chris Bosh
Vonleh plays basically identically to Chris Bosh, but just has shown so little to actually warrant that title. Their mid range game mixed with a tough inside presence are practically the same, but the quality of their game differ greatly.
Vonleh is a project, and while his game reminds of Bosh’s, his production could easily vary between Ekpe Udoh or Cody Zeller. The team that drafts Vonleh knows that they are not getting a young Chris Bosh, but they know that he can grow into an impact player whose game plays a lot like the Heat champion.
Zach LaVine – G
NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook
LaVine is the only prospect here whose comparison to an all-NBA player is not attached to a “poor man’s” label, excluding Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. LaVine’s similarities to Westbrook are almost scary.
Both come from UCLA, are hyperathletic combo guards, and can dunk above the rim. I mean, just look at this vertical.
And he didn’t fail to impress in other workouts, either. Here LaVine slams down a huge dunk at his Nuggets workout.
LaVine is probably loving the Westbrook comparisons, but if he can truly achieve those comparisons is a different story.
James Young – F/G
NBA Comparison: Arron Afflalo
Young and Afflalo share one core ability – shot creation.
Afflalo flourished this past season in Orlando, being the best offensive option on the team and constantly getting open for shots. Young can do the same. He provides instant offense and will require tough defensive coverage from day 1, much like Afflalo.
This is perhaps one of the most realistic comparisons, as Afflalo has still not earned an All-star team spot and Young is also likely to remain home during all-star weekend in his career.