By Max Feldman
Comparisons on NBA Draft prospects fly around these days with little substance but rather similarities in measurements or statistics. Each and every floor and ceiling comparison in this article is based on projected translation to the NBA as well as trajectory options based on each prospects swing factors.
The Top 15 Prospects include brief explanations…
if everything pans out… Pete maravich
Similar to Ball, Pistol Pete was big for a lead guard who was not an elite athlete. Pistol thrived leading the break and used his flare to fire passes to open teammates after luring them in with a dynamic handle. Pete was a flashy finisher around the rim who did not shy away from contact using up and unders, double clutches and lengthy floaters to score in unorthodox ways. Maravich was an extremely polarizing player for his era and changed the game was played. At his peak, Ball can determine the tempo, style and excitement of games by playmaking in a unique fashion.
the worst case scenario… spencer dinwiddie
If the flare and superstar upside does not materialize, Ball could end up being a trusted ball handler with good size and a scoring punch. Although Delon Wright-esque floor is there for Ball, it is hard to imagine his scoring stoop that low. Shooting inconsistency could make Ball less of a cornerstone figure and more difficult to build around, but his touch and scoring versatility inside the arc make it hard to imagine his numbers to fall too low alike Dinwiddie.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Gordon Hayward
The ceiling comparison was nearly Hedo Turkoglu as their games are very reminiscent in terms of creativity, but Hayward’s prowess prior to the gruesome leg injury was among an elite tier in the NBA. Similar to Hayward, Avdija has a very steady and balanced skillset by making plays for others and creating on their own. Fluid athleticism with length and advanced skill give both players heightened longevity as productive wings. While both were consistent and productive finishers at a young age, Hayward was a more advanced shooter coming into the league while Avdija is a more skilled passer. The longterm outcome might not show an identical player, but Avdija is a very unique prospect and the manner in which he fits in a roster can most closely represent Hayward.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Cedi Osman
If all fails and Avdija does not improve, a Cedi Osman case is possible. A playmaking wing who has little athletic burst and serves a role of just making the right play. With similar size, Avdija is a better athlete at this point and shows more creativity as a playmaker, but if his shot does not pan out and he can not improve his body, it might be difficult for him to carve out an expanded role
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Prime Goran Dragic
The D’Angelo Russell comparison just isn’t exactly spot on in my opinion. Russell had a refined handle, a better first step and a flame thrower from deep since his days at Ohio State. Dragic is the fit because of their sneaky quickness and deceptiveness as ball handlers. Dragic has been a P&R maestro since he got in the league and has had multiple boarder line All-Star seasons with one appearance. Similar to Dragic, I see Hayes taking a few years to settle into the league as he will come in as one of the youngest rookies. Over time, Hayes can develop into a 14-18 point scorer high assist numbers and a very healthy assist to turnover ratio.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Lefty Derrick white
Hayes has a healthy floor as a trusted ball handler, solid athleticism and good change of pace. If he does not become a cornerstone playmaker that he has been pegged as in the top five of the draft, he can become a solid starter with high level playmaking ability but limited self creation and scoring outputs.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Prime Marcus Camby
The Hassan Whiteside comparison is the common one, but I do think Wiseman has more potential as an offensive weapon. He is a powerful athlete with a massive frame and strong instincts similar to Camby. His shot blocking output should be the highest in this class over time but the question will be if he can develop into a higher level offensive threat like a LaMarcus Aldridge or could be capped around 10-12 points like Camby was.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Javale McGee
Although I expect a vast amount of offensive development for Wiseman, if it does not all work out then he could just turn out to be an athletic rim runner. It is a coveted role that nearly every team can use, but does not necessarily garner a top five pick. A pogo stick athlete at over 7 feet and 240 pounds holds stock regardless in the modern NBA.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Jason Richardson
I am not as high on Edwards as most, but I do see potential of Jason Richardson down the line. Richardson was a bucket since the minute he entered the league largely remembered for his high flying ability, but did show versatility in his scoring as he entered his prime. I do see Edwards top end ability to be reminiscent of the GSW’s version of Richardson where he can score at nearly 20 points per game and defend using a mature frame but can have mediocre shooting numbers at time and low assist rates.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Malik Beasley
The Timberwolves version of Malik Beasley means this floor is very, very high for Edwards. While I do have Edwards two to three spots lower than most, I do see a very safe floor largely because of his raw athleticism and scoring package since high school. The key swing factors will be if he can develop steadily as his game entering the league does not look much different than his junior year of high school. If the three level scoring efficiency does not soar, look out for Edwards to turn out to be a secondary scoring option with athletic upside.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… damian lillard
The first step and end to end speed of Anthony give him just about as high of a ceiling of any prospect in the field. Dame showed a pro skillset as a lead guard since his days at Weber State and while Anthony struggled at UNC with a weaker roster and injuries, he has effectively been a pro since his days at Oak Hill. He might never be the shooter Lillard has turned out to be, but his ability to score in isolation and attack the rim with a unique blend of power and creativity give him an All-Star ceiling.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Austin Rivers
Austin Rivers remains a solid rotational scorer in the league, but did not completely pan out as a former lottery pick. Both players showed eye popping athleticism and overall burst from high school to college with strong shot making ability, but Rivers slashing and consistency did not translate. If Anthony’s athletic ability do not translate similar to the way Rivers did, he could end up being a solid microwave scorer off of the bench.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Rudy Gay
The former 8th overall selection in thee 2006 NBA Draft has never been a lights out defender for a four man but did develop a solid knack for racking up steals. Toppin and Gay both showed athletic explosion but a similar weakness of interior defending. Strong frames, 3 level scoring ability and above average efficiency on the offensive end provide due optimism for Toppin when comparing him to Gay.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Athletic Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma has been criticized over his three year career with the Lakers, but there is no doubt he has outperformed his draft slot thus far. If Toppin does not a grow as a team defender and becomes a traffic cone similar to Kuzma, look for his outlook to crumble. It is hard to imagine Toppin’s ability on offense stooping too low, but much of his stock in the top five of this draft hinges on defensive development. Both were drafted as older prospects but only time will tell if what we’ve seen from Toppin already is his peak potential.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… jason kidd
Haliburton has the best balance of floor and ceiling in this field. If Haliburton can continue to develop his passing attack and find the ability to contribute as a lead guard and secondary ball handler, look for him to approach his peak similar to Jason Kidd. Although Kidd had great touch on his floater and mid-range game, he did end up being just a 35% shooter from three point range. I do see Haliburton eventually falling in this range as well. The ability to play on and off ball, control tempo and be a consistent stat stuffer make Haliburton’s outlook extremely sought after.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Delon wright
The length and vision make Haliburton’s floor similar to Wright. Wright had a high ceiling come into the league but thus far has not completely developed or opened up his offensive skillset. When the shots were not falling and the attacking ability did not prove to be consistent enough to be a go-to scorer, Wright built upon his frame and became a multi-positional defender and remains a consistent playmaker with a healthy assist to turnover ratio. Haliburton has improved at a strong rate, but if the offense does not reach Kidd level, look for him to use his tools to contribute in areas where Delon Wrright makes his money.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Jrue holiday
Ramsey and Holiday share similar physical builds, but show signs of more in terms of potential development. Holiday has showed more as a playmaker at the NBA level, an area that Ramsey has not mastered yet but Holiday did not either at a young age. With his frame, athleticism and instincts, I do see Ramsey turning into an above average defender who can guard both backcourt positions similar to Holiday. If Ramsey can continue to be a consistent shooter and all around scorer in stints early in his career, I see him growing into a strong secondary playmaker and versatile all-around scorer.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… kentavious caldwell-pope
If Ramsey’s athletic ability does not translate well and he’s not able to score in a variety of ways, it is very possible he becomes a streaky 3 and D backcourt option. I am very high on Ramsey’s scoring ability and even if he does not pan out as a high level scorer, I do think he floats around the 11-14 point per game range like KCP. Toughness, shooting and motor will allow Ramsey to carve out a long term role regardless.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Jermaine O’Neal
The Bam Adebayo comparison is certainly exciting, but I do not see the playmaking potential as Okongwu has shown little to no flashes as a ball handler. With that, Jermaine O’Neal is no slouch. Okongwu is an inch or two shorter, but shows extremely optimistic signs as a shot blocker using his athleticism and instincts similar to O’Neal. O’Neal was a multi-time All-Star who can came in as a powerful athlete, but later proved to be a versatile post scorer with touch. If Okongwu’s scoring ability and interior touch can translate, there is no doubt he can become a cornerstone player with an All-Star label.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Bismack Biyombo
However, Okongwu could end up being a physical enforcer in the paint with strong rebounding and shot blocking skills. Biyombo was selected 7th overall in 2011 but never quite panned out on the offensive end as he lacked touch, advanced footwork and ball handling ability. If Okongwu can not expand his range or take on a bigger role as a low post scorer due to clunky footwork, he can wind up in a similar boat as Biyombo.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Righty Lamar odom
To preface this comparison, I am a massive fan of Lamar Odom’s game. An uber impressive athlete with a unique ball handling ability, essentially the first of his kind in the mid 2000’s. Achiuwa might never be an All-Star but I do love his upside as a point forward matchup problem and bouncy rim runner. I think there is more versatility in Achiuwa’s game than what his displayed in one season under Penny Hardaway, and while it might take a year or two to settle in, it would not surprise me to see him winding up as a stat stuffing, versatile stretch man who thrives in transition.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Righty Terrence Jones
Terrence Jones showed plenty of flashes as a point forward from his days at Kentucky. The former top 20 pick had a few solid scoring seasons in the NBA but never quite panned out as an efficient front court weapon. If Achiuwa can not improve upon his floor stretching flashes or develop his ball handling even further, he could end up being as a back end rotational athlete or fringe NBA player.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT…. Righty Michael Redd
Along with the Lamar Odom comparison, Michael Redd is another one of my favorite under the radar players ever. With decent athleticism and solid defensive versatility, Redd’s skillset matches up very nicely with Neismith’s outlook. The ability to shot off of spot ups, isolation and running off of screens make Neismith the cream of the crop in terms of shooting options in this draft, but were also the key factors that made Michael Redd a one time All-Star and one of the most efficient shooters/scorers of his era.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Damyean Dotson
What makes Neismith such a safe option is the premium on shooting in the modern NBA. Even if the high volume scoring and efficiency do not mirror what he showed at Vanderbilt, he still is very likely to find success as a starting level two-way off guard or a rotational shooting piece. When given the opportunity, Dotson has found solid success as a shooter and defender, and while the floor is not exactly what you’re looking for in a back end lottery selection, it should be a risk you’re willing to take while building around a star who needs spacing to thrive.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… monta ellis
Monta Ellis struggled from deep early in his career and his build as a undersized two guard made him an intriguing case. Ellis never was a lights out shooter, 31% from three over his career, but scored at an efficient rate using his lightning speed, stout build, touch and in between game. Maxey has been cited as a strong shooter but did not exactly exhibit that skill in one season at Lexington. I believe he will hover around the mid 30% range as a shooter but will make his money playing alongside a playmaking focused lead guard by scoring the ball around the rim, blowing by defenders in transition and using his motor to defend both guard spots.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Bruce brown
Another case of a somewhat high floor, Maxey could turn into a similar case as Brown if he does not open up his game. With length becoming more and more important in the NBA, it is difficult at times to play two guards at the same time who are under 6-3. If Maxey does not land next to a longer playmaking lead guard like Lonzo Ball or Luka Doncic, he might end up being just a high end rotational scoring boost, not a potential cornerstone option.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Luol Deng
I was very close to making this Scottie Pippen, but Deng’s production, prowess and consistency primarily on the defensive end made it very fitting. Recent articles have mentioned my mentality that Williams very well might end up being the best defender in the class, and the Deng comparison certainly does that justice. If Williams can refine his shooting ability, find consistency from range and sharpen up his ball handling, I have no problem projecting him to eclipse the All-Star label down the line similar to Deng.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Shane Battier
With almost identical measurements, Battier and Williams show similarities as role players on the offensive end but stars while defending. For an incredible athlete with an ideal build as a multi-positional defender, Williams has a very safe floor to contribute and develop at just 18 years old. If he can not capitalize on all of his untapped traits, look for the former Seminole to still have a long consistent career.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Trevor Ariza
Vassell is an extremely safe option and while I do not see him being an All-Star at any point down the line, I can not imagine him turning into a bust. Like Ariza, Vassell has all the traits of a rangy 3 and D prospect who is bound to have a long career.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Alec Burks
Burks has created a solid reputation for himself after be labeled a bust after being drafted in the lottery of the 2011 Draft. With a very solid physical build, look for Vassell to develop into a valuable wing with shooting upside and defensive versatility.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Brandon Ingram
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Jalen Mcdaniels
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… josh richardson
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Royce o’neal
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Robert Covington
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Jamychal Green
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Eric Gordon
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Ben McLemore
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… J.R. Smith
Green may not be athletically on par with Smith in his prime, but their role and skillset could align eventually. Green is certainly a very strong athlete with subtle burst and strength similar to Smith and does ooze confidence in a similar fashion. If Green can catch fire and refine his long range jumper and build upon his speed and bounce, he very well could serve a similar role as J.R. Smith has over his long careerr.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… Terence Davis
Davis was extremely underrated throughout the draft process and capitalized on his opportunity in his rookie seasons with the reigning champs. A two-way with a strong frame and athleticism who can slot in off-ball in a variety of lineups who’s role has proved to be extremely valuable. If Green can not become a go-to shooting option on the wing with high scoring outputs, look for him to serve a role every team searching for toughness and burst could use.
IF EVERYTHING PANS OUT… Terrence Ross
Now this one might rile up some folks. I have mentioned repeatedly that if Hampton continues to be forced into a playmaking, lead guard role, I think his stock is in trouble. This comparison assumes he slides to an off ball role, which he is better fit at. FOG remains confident the playmaking is not a strength of Hampton’s. Streaky shooting and athletic burst have made Ross a valuable wing that has stuck around and gotten buckets for a living. Likely to remain in the low-mid 30% range from deep alike Ross, Hampton can become an solid to strong off-ball option long term.
THE WORST CASE SCENARIO… De’anthony melton
Melton has improved quite a bit in two NBA seasons along with some G-League experience, so even if Hampton can not put together all the pieces that made him a potential top 5 pick coming into the season, he’s a safe bet to hold down a rotational guard spot with his quickness, length and motor.
If Everything Pants Out… Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Gilgeous-Alexander has long been the FOG comparison for Ayo, largely due to the manner in which they control tempo, play at their own pace, use their long frames to maneuver the mid-range and facilitate. If Dosunmu can shore up some decision making woes early on in his development and be leaned on as a playmaker, his game and production role could be similar to SGA’s. It certainly is a high ceiling as SGA is one a rising star in the league and Dosunmu is widely regarded as a 2nd round pick by most, 25th overall on the FOG Big Board, but the ability to change speeds and manipulate defenses in unique ways make Dosunmu an intriguing fit for any team.
The Worst Case Scenario… Frank ntilikina
If Dosunmu can not cement his long ball or find consistency playmaking for others, he could fall into a similar boat as Ntilikina. Rotational guards who can play both on or off ball but find the majority of their contributions on the defensive end as high motor pieces. The ability to change speeds and manipulate defenses were the premise for all three of the mentioned prospects, but in order to benefit from the trait the prospect must find consistency in their jumper to be able to take advantage of hard closeouts. A difference of 11% in FG% and 5% in their 3PT % have resulted in extremely different early career paths for SGA and Frank. All signs point towards Ayo ending up somewhere in the middle.