Player comparisons are at least as old as the NBA Draft. As we seek to understand how players will translate to the NBA, using the experience of players with similar skills is helpful. Yet the danger is that subjective comparisons will be colored by irrelevant factors. These similarity scores take a different approach, using NCAA statistical performance adjusted both for the transition from college to the pros and strength of schedule. Players are compared in 13 categories, including height and weight, to their predecessors within six months of the same age at the time they were drafted. (See here for more details on the process.)
Going by a single player comparison can be dangerous. Most players have a group of comparables that are diverse in terms of their NBA success. There's a reason SCHOENE uses upwards of 50 comparables in projecting performance. Using age at the time the player is drafted limits the pool of possible comparisons, as does the fact that the database goes back only to 2000 and is not complete until 2006 or so. (Before that, it was difficult to track down team statistics to adjust for pace.) If the next Michael Jordan really was in this draft, we wouldn't be able to make the comparison. So don't read more into these comparisons than is really there, especially in cases where the similarity score is low. (They're scored out of 100, with 95 indicating a decent match and 90 generally the cutoff for any real similarity.) Still, these comparison are fun and can be enlightening at times.
Players are ranked by their current spot in DraftExpress' mock draft.
1 Anthony Davis Kentucky C Greg Oden 87.1
Davis is, naturally, the most unique player in this year's draft. Everyone else has at least one similarity score of 90 or better. The most Davis-like players in the league (Marcus Camby and Kevin Garnett) aren't in the college database.
2 Thomas Robinson Kansas PF Glen Davis 95.3
Fun fact: Two of Robinson's four most similar players are the Morris twins, whom he backed up in 2010-11.
3 Bradley Beal Florida SG Xavier Henry 97.6
4 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Kentucky SF Tobias Harris 95.7
Since early in the college season, I've compared Kidd-Gilchrist to Luol Deng. That was his best comp at 95.1 until I added the 2011 class and Tobias Harris moved ahead. Gerald Wallace, another popular comparison, ranks fourth.
5 Harrison Barnes North Carolina SF Terrico White 96.9
6 Damian Lillard Weber St. PG Jordan Crawford 98.5
7 Dion Waiters Syracuse SG Iman Shumpert 96.1
8 Austin Rivers Duke SG Lance Stephenson 96.8
9 Andre Drummond Connecticut C Kosta Koufos 94.3
Like Davis, Drummond presents challenges for similarity scores because of his size and youth. He has just three players with scores of 90 or better.
10 Jeremy Lamb Connecticut SG Terrico White 93.9
11 John Henson North Carolina PF Larry Sanders 97.8
I like this one because of the excellent DraftExpress scouting report comparison BrewHoop.com ran featuring Henson, Sanders and Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside actually doesn't score as particularly similar to Henson, however.
12 Tyler Zeller North Carolina C Lonny Baxter 97.4
13 Terrence Ross Washington SG Antoine Wright 97.8
14 Meyers Leonard Illinois C DeAndre Jordan 96.7
15 Perry Jones, III Baylor PF Luke Babbitt 97.1
This is the only place in the world you will ever see Perry Jones compared to Luke Babbitt.
16 Maurice Harkless St. John's SF Anthony Randolph 97.1
17 Terrence Jones Kentucky PF LaMarcus Aldridge 97.5
18 Kendall Marshall North Carolina PG Marcus Williams 94.4
As a throwback, pass-first point guard, Marshall has just two comps with scores of better than 90.
19 Jared Sullinger Ohio St. PF Brandon Bass 96.6
20 Arnett Moultrie Mississippi St. PF Derrick Brown 96.5
21 Royce White Iowa St. PF Earl Clark 93.3
22 Fab Melo Syracuse C Solomon Alabi 96.0
23 Quincy Miller Baylor SF Lance Stephenson 95.7
24 Andrew Nicholson St. Bonaventure PF Malcolm Thomas 96.7
25 Evan Fournier France SF
Fournier is one of two European prospects that do not have projections because they did not play in one of the domestic competitions or in the ACB.
26 Draymond Green Michigan St. SF David Lee 96.4
27 Festus Ezeli Vanderbilt C Solomon Alabi 95.0
28 Jeffrey Taylor Vanderbilt SF Wesley Matthews 99.0
Taylor and Wesley Matthews is the single closest match for any player in this year's draft.
29 Will Barton Memphis SG Travis Leslie 97.1
30 Marquis Teague Kentucky PG Eric Bledsoe 95.4
Kentucky point guards!
31 Tony Wroten Washington PG Trevor Ariza 96.7
32 Miles Plumlee Duke C Alexander Johnson 92.7
33 John Jenkins Vanderbilt SG Arron Afflalo 98.0
34 Bernard James Florida State PF
James is the third player missing comparables. At 27, he's two years older than the oldest draftee currently in my database (one-time Atlanta Hawks guard Travis Hansen).
35 Tyshawn Taylor Kansas PG Acie Law 97.1
36 Doron Lamb Kentucky SG Terrico White 97.4
37 Darius Miller Kentucky SF Jason Kapono 95.3
38 Kim English Missouri SG DeAndre Liggins 95.8
39 Jared Cunningham Oregon St. PG Jeff Teague 97.6
40 Orlando Johnson UC Santa Barbara SG Mychel Thompson 97.0
41 Drew Gordon New Mexico PF David Lee 97.4
42 Kyle O'Quinn Norfolk St. PF Malcolm Thomas 98.3
43 Jae Crowder Marquette SF Mike Dunleavy Jr. 97.7
Imagine if Crowder and Dunleavy traded haircuts!
44 Tornike Shengelia Georgia PF
45 Kostas Papanikolaou Greece SF Rasheed Wallace 95.7
For the other four European prospects, these similarity scores are among NBA players from SCHOENE using translated performance in either the EuroLeague, the EuroCup or the ACB. This one's pretty amusing, too. Does Papanikolaou have trouble with technicals?
46 Mike Scott Virginia PF Sam Young 96.4
47 Kevin Jones West Virginia SF Luke Harangody 93.8
48 Khris Middleton Texas A&M SF Bill Walker 97.2
49 Darius Johnson-Odom Marquette PG Andrew Goudelock 98.3
50 Tomas Satoransky Czech Republic PG DerMarr Johnson 95.5
51 Kevin Murphy Tennessee Tech SG Cory Higgins 97.7
52 Furkan Aldemir Turkey PF Darius Miles 96.4
53 Scott Machado Iona PG John Salmons 93.1
Machado's other comps are all true point guards, so I take this to say less about him and more about how Salmons played at Miami.
54 JaMychal Green Alabama PF Gani Lawal 96.6
55 William Buford Ohio St. SG Jason Kapono 97.3
56 Kris Joseph Syracuse SF Mychel Thompson 96.5
57 Henry Sims Georgetown C Chris Wright 95.3
58 J'Covan Brown Texas PG Andrew Goudelock 98.6
59 Leon Radosevic Croatia PF Jared Jeffries 96.6
60 Tu Holloway Xavier PG Acie Law 98.1
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