With the NBA lottery set and the 2013 NBA draft less than a month away, front offices around the league are working to evaluate all of the available talent.
Teams at the top of the NBA draft order will have their choice of the very best players. Figuring out who will become a superstar and who won't reach their potential is important.
One straightforward way of doing that is finding a relevant pro comparison for a prospect to see what he will likely become. Of course, there is more to evaluating talent than finding out which NBA player a prospect reminds you of.
But having a lot of similarities with an already-proven star can't hurt, right?
Read on to see pro comparisons for the top five 2013 NBA draft prospects.
NBA comparison: Larry Johnson
Jon Rothstein of CBS said it succinctly enough when comparing the two UNLV forwards.
Bennett is so similar to his fellow Runnin’ Rebel because the two are both undersized for their position but make up for it with athleticism. Bennett is 6’8” while Johnson is 6’6”, yet they are both tenacious rebounders.
While being smaller may hurt him in some regards, Bennett is able to use his explosiveness and shooting range to beat bigger defenders from the inside and the outside.
As Jonathan Givony of Draft Express noted, what Bennett lacks in pure post moves, he makes up for with his ability to either shoot or drive from mid-range and his soft touch at the rim.
Even though Bennett stayed just one year in Las Vegas, his numbers (16.1 PPG, 8.1 REB, 53% FG, 37.5% 3PT) are very similar to Johnson’s NBA career averages (16.2 PPG, 7.5 REB, 48% FG, 33% 3PT).
Now Bennett just needs to don a dress and wig to bring back Grandmama.
NBA comparison: Tayshaun Prince
According to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Porter called this one himself, saying both he and the Memphis Grizzlies forward are “long, lanky and can do a lot of things on the floor. Can defend, rebound, kind of a glue guy.”
He’s right; both he and Prince are wiry, versatile players. Porter had a quiet freshman year at Georgetown, but he broke out this season, averaging 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists.
Like Prince in his prime, Porter is at his best working in the mid-range, where he can hit pull-up jumpers or dish it to a teammate. In fact, a look at their career averages suggests Porter (49.8% FG, 35.5% 3FG) is a more consistent shooter than Prince (45.8% FG, 37% 3FG).
On the other side of the court, Porter should be able to use his length to be a great on-ball defender like Prince. Don't be surprised if at some point in his NBA career Porter makes a play like Prince’s block in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals.
NBA comparison: Ray Allen
Ben McLemore must be feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of Ray Allen comparisons. As early as December, Greg Sandler of nbadraft.net compared the Kansas Jayhawk with the Miami Heat guard, saying, “Like Allen, McLemore is silky smooth in his ability to spot up and pull up off the dribble.”
In his latest mock draft, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix suggested McLemore is just as technically sound while being more physically gifted, calling him “a Ray Allen-type shooter with superior athleticism.”
While McLemore is a great shooter, having hit 42 percent from the three-point line this season, he probably won’t approach Allen’s record 2,857 (and counting) made threes. Also, he’s made his fair share of highlight-reel dunks, but Allen had similar hops in his younger days.
The two athletes even share similar weaknesses, as both aren’t particularly strong at creating their own shot. However, the biggest knock on McLemore, as ESPN’s Chad Ford noted, is that he disappears at times.
NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster may have put it best in this tweet, saying McLemore's similarities are to an older Allen.
The Allen comparisons are fair, just not to Allen's prime.
NBA comparison: Andre Iguodala
Dick Vitale may think Victor Oladipo shows shades of Michael Jordan, but that may just be a bit of a stretch.
Tony Allen seemed to be the popular comparison for Oladipo early on. According to NBC Sports’ Kurt Hellin, “teams were thinking he could be a young Tony Allen type, with more offense.”
However, even that may be selling him short. As Bleacher Report’s Tim Grimes said, “Oladipo can be a far more dominant NBA player than [Allen].”
Andre Iguodala looks like a better fit.
Oladipo’s explosiveness also makes him a nightmare for opposing offenses. CBS Sports’ Zach Harper described his defensive play:
Oladipo is a little undersized at around 6-feet-5, but he appears to have a great wingspan that will make up for his lack of height. And he knows how to use that wingspan, too. Defensively, Oladipo is just exhausting. He hassles offensive players, he's lurking in the passing lanes, and his quick hands allow him to get deflections constantly. His relentless style on defense is often compared to Andre Iguodala.
Like the Denver Nuggets forward, Oladipo won’t be an elite shooter, but his jump shot is improving. Plus, Oladipo’s freakish athleticism makes him a great finisher in transition and a solid rebounder despite his less-than-ideal height.
NBA comparison: Larry Sanders
Nerlens Noel worried teams when he weighed in at 206 pounds at the NBA combine. Granted, Noel is not fully in shape as he is still recovering from a torn ACL, but that’s not a measurable weight you’d like to see from a post player.
If there’s someone who Noel can look up to as a slim center, it’s Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks. Sanders, who weighs 235 pounds, emerged as a defensive force for the Bucks this season, averaging 2.8 blocks (good for second in the league) and 9.5 rebounds.
Like Sanders, Noel hasn’t developed a strong offensive game. However, Noel has shown some promise, especially with his ability to pass the ball out of the post.
If Noel comes back healthy from his injury, he has the potential to at least be the kind of defensive anchor Sanders was this season. If he adds a post game and/or jump shot, he’ll be worth more than a top pick in the draft.