NBA Draft 2012: Top 10 Prospects' Best and Worst NBA Player Comparisons
With the NBA draft taking place at the end of June, speculation is beginning to filter in from every angle regarding which players will go where and why.
While mock draft selections are plenty intriguing, I'm more interested in what each draftee will actually look like at the NBA level.
For every great player selected, there will be two players that never quite live up to their potential.
Based on Chad Ford of ESPN's Big Board, here's a look at the top 10 prospects' best and worst potential NBA player comparisons.
1. Anthony Davis
Best-Case NBA Player Comparison: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Worst-Case NBA Player Comparison: Greg Oden
Anthony Davis is a supremely talented, athletic center that already has incredible defensive prowess. Davis' offensive game was quite good in his one year at Kentucky, but he still has plenty of room to develop on that side of the ball.
I'm putting the ceiling high here (to say the least) by making Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the best-case comparison to Davis, but the big man could truly become an incredible pro. Though he still holds the record for most total points in NBA history, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.6 points a game. An average of 24.6 points per game does not seem unrealistic for Davis, whose incredible athleticism as a center will create endless scoring opportunities.
Many believe Davis' most accurate comparison is something like a Kevin Garnett, but I believe Davis' ceiling is even higher than that, as the defense of Davis could become much more dominant than Garnett's.
The worst-case scenario for Davis would be to end up like a Greg Oden. This is not a knock on Oden's game, but rather the fact that he was plagued by injuries, which always seems to be a greater risk for big men. Fortunately, Davis hasn't had any serious problems thus far (knock on wood).
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Best-Case NBA Player Comparison: Luol Deng
Worst-Case NBA Player Comparison: Corey Brewer
Kidd-Gilchrist is the perfect example of a player that needs to enter the right system in order to reach his full potential.
The small forward has endless heart, and will be able to wreak havoc on the opposition through excellent one-on-one perimeter defense and a nose for rebounding. Kidd-Gilchrist needs to focus on developing a consistent jump shot, but he already has solid scoring instincts, which will make him a capable player in his rookie season.
There are similarities in Kidd-Gilchrist and Bulls' forward Luol Deng in that they are both high-energy, athletic players who can play shut-down defense and have great rebounding ability. Deng needed a couple years to craft a consistently strong offensive game, but he put it all together in his third season by averaging just under 19 points a game.
The worst-case scenario for MKG is that he is never able to truly hold his own offensively and becomes a spark plug off the bench, a la Corey Brewer.
3. Bradley Beal
Best-Case NBA Player Comparison: Ray Allen
Worst-Case NBA Player Comparison: Daniel Green
Beal is a very NBA-ready type of player. His jumpshot is a thing of beauty and he has the frame to excel right out of the gate at the shooting guard position.
Beal is also an excellent rebounding guard and has become a consistently tough defender.
If things go as planned for Beal, he could potentially become a top scoring threat in the league.
The 6'5" guard has drawn many comparisons to Ray Allen at the next level, and reasonably so. The two are great shooters, both can get open for shots off of screens very well with their high motors and both have the ability to rebound well.
If Beal does not become the prolific scorer and starter that so many envision him to be, he could turn into a role playing shooter off of the bench, comparable to the Spurs' Daniel Green.
4. Thomas Robinson
Best-Case Player Comparison: Paul Millsap
Worst-Case Player Comparison: J.J. Hickson
Robinson is another player chock-full of hustle, a characteristic that seems to be consistent among the top of the draft.
He is not the prototypical power forward, but Robinson does have the tools to succeed at the position in the NBA, simply because of his endless hustle, physicality and rebounding ability.
Robinson has also been slowly developing a mid-range jumpshot and appears to be on the right track in making it a go-to offensive move.
Paul Millsap of Utah comes to mind when watching Robinson's game at points: endless hustle, ability to defend different positions, effective post-up game, good shooting ability and great rebounding.
If Robinson does become somewhat of a "bust" after all, he could prove to be similar to a J.J. Hickson of Portland who comes in off the bench to provide rebounding and occasional post offense.
5. Andre Drummond
Best-Case Player Comparison: Andrew Bynum
Worst-Case Player Comparison: Kwame Brown
Drummond is the classic high-risk, high-reward big man. He has all of the physical tools to become a quality starting center, possibly even all-star caliber, but he will undoubtedly take some time to develop.
The 6'11", 275 pound center has great athleticism on a very large frame, he can run the floor well, he can potentially dominate the boards and he's a great shot-blocker. Sound like somebody? If he can put everything together, Drummond could prove to be Bynum-esque, but that's a big "if."
There was also a large, athletic center that came out of high school as the top overall selection in 2001's draft by the name of Kwame Brown, who is seemingly always used as a warning of the potential downside of centers taken high in the draft, but it's doubtful that Drummond won't develop into a proficient center.
6. Harrison Barnes
Best-Case Player Comparison: Tracy McGrady
Worst-Case Player Comparison: Josh Childress
Barnes was touted as the number one recruit in the nation coming out of high school, and though he was not the best player in the country while at North Carolina, Barnes did prove that he was a great scorer.
His jump shot is extremely polished, and he has plenty of offensive versatility, including the ability to get to the rim and finish as well as post up smaller defenders.
Barnes did have some struggles with handling the ball and seemed to settle for jump shots far too often, but his work ethic off the floor should allow him to progress accordingly in the NBA.
If Barnes can really work on his dribble penetration and creating his own offense, the sky is the limit for the 6'8" forward.
Tracy McGrady was not a great player from the get-go and took significant time to develop while in Toronto and subsequently Orlando, but their styles of play have some similarities. Barnes and McGrady have the same body type and similar pull-up jump shots.
Josh Childress was also highly touted as a fantastic shooter coming out of Stanford and was taken with the sixth pick in the 2004 draft, but never really came into his own as a creative scorer and has spent substantial time on the pine in the NBA.
7. Damian Lillard
Best-Case Player Comparison: Jason Terry
Worst-Case Player Comparison: Sebastian Telfair
"NBA ready" is another term folks seem to be throwing around about Weber State's Damian Lillard, mostly based on his all-around scoring ability.
Lillard may be the best pure scorer in the draft, averaging 24.5 points per game in his final season with Weber State and shooting an impressively efficient 46.7 percent while doing so.
If Lillard can hone in on becoming a great point guard and facilitator, the Jason Terry comparison may become surprisingly accurate.
They are both offensive-minded point guards that have great three-point shooting abilities, and they both seem to have the elusive pull-up three-point shot mastered.
Should Lillard always rely on his offense and never fully become a well-rounded point guard, Sebastian Telfair comes to mind as a comparison: A point guard whose only goal is to put the ball in the basket.
8. Dion Waiters
Best-Case Player Comparison: Baron Davis
Worst-Case Player Comparison: Toney Douglas
Waiters is a bit of an enigma in terms of what his ceiling is and where he might end up in the draft, but his stock certainly seems to be on the move.
He has a great frame at 6'4", 215 pounds and uses that physicality to get to the rim often. Waiters has proven himself as a scorer, but his defensive abilities remain a mystery for the most part.
The trickiest part about Waiters is that he wasn't even a starter at Syracuse, but for much of the season, he played like he could have been one.
Since Waiters is such a big guard with good shooting ability, Baron Davis is a reasonable comparison. Davis was especially good in the first 10 seasons while with the Hornets and Warriors when he routinely averaged 20-plus points per game.
Waiters could be a big surprise in this draft, but he could also continue his sixth man role into the NBA if he does not improve.
9. Perry Jones III
Best-Case Player Comparison: Lamar Odom
Worst-Case Player Comparison: Anthony Randolph
Perry Jones III is another prospect in the boom-or-bust category.
Jones' extremely unique combination of size, speed, and athleticism will most likely keep him in the top 13 as a lottery pick.
The 6'11" power forward's skill set is nearly endless because he is such a rare physical specimen. He can guard almost every position, he's great shot blocker, he can run the floor with speed and he's a great rebounder and creative scorer.
The list of negatives are nearly as long, though, with the main concern being that he doesn't play at 100 percent for the entirety of his time on the floor.
Jones could prove to have a game comparable to Lamar Odom in a few years because of his versatility and athleticism.
He could also easily turn out to be the next Anthony Randolph because of all of the questions about his heart and all-around game.
10. Jeremy Lamb
Best-Case Player Comparison: Kevin Martin
Worst-Case Player Comparison: Wayne Ellington
With this year's talent-laden draft, Lamb drops all the way down to the No. 10 prospect, but could have been a top-five pick in year's past.
Similar to Perry Jones III, there are concerns regarding Lamb's interest in the game at times, but there are no questions about his talent.
Lamb has a 7'2" wing-span at 6'5" and has shown he has the ability to take over games with his offensive talents.
Lamb has the tools to become a Kevin Martin-esque player, but unless his motor improves, he will be nowhere near the level of Martin, who drives defenders crazy with his endless movement on offense.