Updated Pro Player Comparisons for Top NBA Rookies
Now that we've had a look at some of the top rookies from the 2013 NBA draft in the Las Vegas and Orlando Summer Leagues, it's time to reevaluate a few of their pro comparisons.
While some top picks solidified their pro comparison by displaying traits that validated their projections, others looked nothing like the player described on draft day.
In an effort to give a more accurate comparison, we'll break down the following six prospects and their closest comparison both offensively and defensively.
Offensive Comparison: Leandro Barbosa
Defensive Comparison: Eric Bledsoe
Let's table the Dwyane Wade comparisons. I get that they have similar size and athletic profiles, but Oladipo is nowhere close to Wade when it comes to body control, footwork or ball-handling. Wade could split a defense and euro-step down the lane for a left-hand finish from day one in the pros. Oladipo can't go left, period.
That doesn't mean Oladipo won't become a great player. He'll just be in a different mold than D-Wade. Like Leandro Barbosa, Oladipo is a terror in transition when he gets a full head of steam. He's both quick in short spaces and fast in long races, just like the Brazilian was in his prime.
Oladipo's offensive production will almost certainly be different than the combo guard Barbosa, but stylistically, the two have a lot in common in how they create scoring opportunities through pure chaos and bouncy forays to the rim.
Defensively is where Oladipo reminds you much more of Wade, but Eric Bledsoe might be a slightly better comparison. Bledsoe is a hound on the ball just like Oladipo, and both players are more than capable of skying for huge blocks and creating turnovers in passing lanes.
Barbosa mixed with Bledsoe? That's one terrifying guard, even if it's not quite Wade.
Offensive Comparison: Andrei Kirilenko
Defensive Comparison: Thaddeus Young
This comparison doesn't factor in Otto Porter's summer league performance quite as much as you'd think. Even though he looked awful there, that type of setting will never be the place where Porter can truly show what he is capable of. He needs structure, and Las Vegas is not the place for that.
Still, it's hard to shake visions of Porter's painfully slow first step, upright dribbling and his lack of ability to get by defenders. If you're asking Porter to get you a bucket in isolation, you're in trouble. That's why Andrei Kirilenko is the offensive comparison here.
AK47 was never productive offensively off the dribble. Everything he got was in transition, on great backdoor cuts in the flex offense, or by just hanging around the baseline and collecting dump passes and garbage. That's how Porter will likely have to get it done offensively in the NBA, as he needs other people to set him up. But in a role as a smart passer and cutter in the right offense, Porter can absolutely succeed.
Defensively, I'm a little more concerned. Porter does look a lot like Tayshaun Prince with his length and skinny frame, and that physical comparison still sticks. That said, it's awfully hard to peg a player with average athleticism that struggles to get low and move laterally as the next Tayshaun Prince defensively. He might look like Prince, but his production defensively could be more in line with a 'tweener type like Thaddeus Young.
Offensive Comparison: Jason Thompson
Defensive Comparison: Tyler Hansbrough
Cody Zeller was one of the more intriguing players to watch at during Summer League, simply because he was playing a much different role as a stretch big man instead of the post-oriented center we saw at Indiana.
Zeller looked pretty natural floating around the perimeter in his debut. The mechanics on his jumper were sound, and the athleticism was as advertised. It's important to note, however, that Zeller's athleticism requires some build-up time.
Basically, Zeller is fast, but he's not quick. Couple that with a shot release that's a little low around the rim, and that's how the less-athletic Jack Cooley rejected Zeller three times in a row during one outing this summer.
What exactly does Zeller bring to to the floor? He's a big man who can definitely run the floor, hit mid-range jumpers and take it hard to the hole once you wind him up. That's essentially the exact description of Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson.
Defensively, Zeller doesn't shy away from battles in the paint. He plays much more physical than his frame would indicate, and he showed a penchant for stepping in and taking charges against other NBA big men. Zeller's athleticism will allow him to block a few shots here or there, but expect more of a grounded approach on defense—like what Tyler Hansbrough employs—due to a lack of considerable length or quick-jumping ability.
Offensive Comparison: Harrison Barnes
Defensive Comparison: Eric Gordon
This one may look a little wacky on the surface. Harrison Barnes shined as a smallball 4 last season, often using his post game and size to punish defenders.
That's obviously not Ben McLemore's game, but the two are very similar in that they completely lock in on scoring when they get the ball.
That's not necessarily a good thing all the time. You'd prefer a player to not play with blinders on, but there are some advantages that come with it as well.
Barnes showed incredible aggressiveness and the ability to attack mismatches, but will McLemore be able to do the same thing on the wing when defenses have a few extra seconds to help and recover? McLemore's zero assists and 18 turnovers in the Summer League are concerning, but Barnes put up similarly bad numbers (two assists, seven turnovers) in his Vegas debut.
The knock on McLemore was that he was passive at times in college, but the real concern may be his playmaking ability. McLemore is such a great athlete and a scary enough perimeter threat that his pump-and-go game should negate his tunnel vision, much in the same way Barnes was able to towards the end of his rookie season.
Defensively, McLemore has the size, strength and speed to stymie penetration much in the same way fellow shooting guard Eric Gordon does. Both are sturdily built and can handle the physical pounding on the defensive end of the floor.
Offensive Comparison: Jamal Crawford
Defensive Comparison: Brian Shaw
Portland Trail Blazers fans won't love the comparison considering how bad Jamal Crawford was in his lone season with the team, but C.J. McCollum is a very similar offensive player to Jamal Crawford. Both can play point guard in a pinch, but scoring will always be their primary objective, and both get it done thanks to their ridiculous handles.
McCollum was far and away the most polished isolation scorer in Las Vegas, regularly eating up his defender with silly crossovers or spin moves to shake free. He also took a lot of really bad shots off the dribble, which is something Crawford has done his whole career.
McCollum is a classic "no, no, no...yes!" player with his shooting. He'll be hot some days and win you games with indefensible shots, and he'll lose you some by going cold on the same looks.
The nice thing about McCollum is he's more than just a scoring sixth-man type, as he can rebound very well for his position and defend intelligently within the team concept. Brian Shaw was a great rebounder on the wing with a similar mental and physical makeup as McCollum. When you listen to McCollum talk hoops, it's easy to see him making the transition to coaching down the line, just like how Shaw has done.
Offensive Comparison: Michael Beasley
Defensive Comparison: Corey Maggette
James Harden he is not, but there is another bulky lefty to whom Shabazz Muhammad is much more similar offensively. Muhammad, meet Michael Beasley.
Both Muhammad and Beasley showed the ability to out-muscle their opponents in college and did a lot of damage under-the-basket. Although both showed the ability to step out and knock down shots, mid-range games and post-up chances were the staples of their scoring diets.
Beasley was actually very solid offensively his rookie year, but some of the same issues that now surround Muhammad took their toll and turned him into an ineffective player. While Muhammad is better at using screens than Beasley is, both guys are what I like to call high-maintenance scorers. They need the ball at very particular times in a clearly defined roles to be useful.
Defensively, Muhammad is a lot like Corey Maggette. He has good size and strength and a physical nature, but he's a little aloof and clearly more concerned with the other end of the floor. Muhammad won't disappoint when he's directly challenged off the dribble, but don't expect a whole lot in the way of help defense.
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