NBA Comparisons for Biggest Draft Prospects of 2014 NCAA Tournament
Drawing up NBA comparisons for draft prospects is an inexact science, but it's a good way to get a concept of how these NCAA stars will translate to the pro ranks.
Several top 2014 draft studs are battling their way through the NCAA tourney, and fans want to know what these collegiate youngsters will look like in the Association.
To illustrate how good some of these prospects could be, we projected optimistic comparisons for this year's crop. A few of them defy comparison to any current NBAer, so we stepped back in time and pointed to a couple retired greats.
From Wiggins and Parker to McDermott and Ennis, we've got comparisons for all the big March Madness names.
*Joel Embiid omitted due to back injury, ruled out until at least second weekend of tournament.
10. Doug McDermott, Creighton F (6'8" Senior)
NBA Comparison: Wally Szczerbiak/Tracy Murray hybrid
In order to find a reasonable NBA comparison for Creighton scoring machine Doug McDermott, we delved into the 1990s and early 2000s to find a couple of dangerous role players.
Wally Szczerbiak and Tracy Murray were superb three-point shooters with quick releases, but they could also score inside the arc.
In addition to shooting 41 percent from deep throughout his career, Szczerbiak posted up a little and had a knack for cutting to open creases for easy buckets. Meanwhile, NBADraft.net tabs Murray as a comparison, and he displayed a lot of McDermott-esque post-ups and outside jumpers. Murray's delivery was lightning-quick; sometimes his defender had no chance of contesting it.
When you blend those two former gunners, that's the kind of impact McDermott can have at the next level. He'll do most of his damage from the perimeter, but he'll jockey for mid-post position against smaller wings and make straight-line drives when they're available.
9. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse PG (6'2" Freshman)
NBA Comparison: Poor-man's Tony Parker/Andre Miller hybrid
I'm not saying Tyler Ennis will slice through defenses quite like Tony Parker, or apply the post game of Andre Miller, but the Syracuse freshman possesses several great qualities of both veterans.
Much like Parker, Ennis patiently probes the defense, then uses deceptive quickness to penetrate and make a variety of plays. Ennis' jump-shooting development will likely correspond to Parker's, as he shows promise but needs repetition from NBA range.
Ennis' poise and command as a floor general reminds us of journeyman Andre Miller, who always plays at the proper pace and puts his teammates in positions to excel.
The Orange quarterback isn't a prime candidate to reach stardom at the next level, but he's highly valued because he'll be a steady, above-average point man.
8. Zach LaVine, UCLA G (6'5" Freshman)
NBA Comparison: Combo-guard version of Gerald Green
This comparison is a rough sketch, but it explains Zach LaVine's two biggest strengths and his need for development.
Gerald Green's quickness and extraordinary leaping ability are complemented by perimeter shooting. He's also become a much better shot-creator, slasher and passer.
LaVine could be a similar weapon for his NBA club, only with better ball-handling skills and the ability to facilitate. He's not going to be a star right away, but in a few years he might be a dangerous dual-threat guard.
Green's outside shooting has become a legitimate threat, and when defenses overcompensate on the outside, he can blow by them off the dribble or with a backdoor cut. Once guys like him and LaVine get past the first level of defense, they kangaroo-jump over the rest.
7. Rodney Hood, Duke SF (6'8" Sophomore)
NBA Comparison: Poor-man's Jalen Rose
Rodney Hood and Jalen Rose are both 6'8" lefties, but that's just the beginning of their similarities.
Rose is nearly a best-case scenario for Hood, but it's not a huge reach. Hood displays similar shooting instincts and execution, along with the ability to sprinkle in some drives.
While he's a great off-ball threat to find spot-up triples, Hood is also a terrific mid-range scorer like Rose was. He can operate on the short corner or from the high post, and even post-up on some opponents.
Duke's sophomore standout won't be able to carry his NBA squad, or even average 18 to 22 points per game in his prime like Rose, but he can be a dependable second scoring option.
6. Nik Stauskas, Michigan SG (6'6" Sophomore)
NBA Comparison: Less-defensive Klay Thompson
Much like Golden State Warriors Splash Brother Klay Thompson, Michigan's Nik Stauskas can fill it up as a tall 2-guard.
Thompson scares people because he can drain triples, but he's also highly productive off the bounce. Stauskas has shown that kind of ball-handling prowess in his sophomore campaign, creating his own mid-range jumpers and facilitating for teammates (it's worth noting that Klay averaged 3.7 assists per game as a junior at Washington State, and averages 2.3 for the Dubs).
Additionally, both gunners aren't viewed as athletic finishers, yet they're plenty capable of rising up and cramming it down.
On the right team Stauskas could become a lethal second option, like Thompson. However, he has his work cut out for him if he wants to administer similar defense.
5. Gary Harris, Michigan State SG (6'4" Sophomore)
NBA Comparison: Bradley Beal with a less-pure jumper
His ceiling isn't quite as high as Bradley Beal's, but there is a lot to like about Michigan State's Gary Harris.
Like the Washington Wizards' star, he works hard away from the ball to earn his shooting opportunities and can score off the bounce.
Harris' shooting setup and release are different than Beal's, but he could also become productive from beyond the arc in the right system. Beal wasn't always efficient from three-point land at Florida (34 percent), but he went on to excel in the NBA (40 percent over two seasons). The same thing could happen for Harris.
Athletically, Harris may be a shade inferior compared to Beal, but he can climb the ladder a few steps when he has room to attack. On the defensive end, however, Harris has a chance to be even better than Beal as an on-ball stopper and off-ball interceptor.
4. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State G (6'4" Sophomore)
NBA Comparison: Jarrett Jack/Dwyane Wade hybrid
Earlier in the season I projected Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart as a blend of James Harden and Dwyane Wade. His build is similar to Harden's, but there are significant differences.
CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb believes Smart will play more of a "Jarrett Jack-type" role in the NBA, and that makes more sense than a dominant scorer like Harden. Think of the 2012-13 version of Jarrett Jack, when he gave the Golden State Warriors production as a facilitator and clutch scorer.
Stir in a couple spoonfuls of Dwyane Wade's speed and defensive instincts, and you get a good idea of what Smart could potentially do at the next level. Wade is also comparable because he gradually honed his mid-range creativity and shot-making ability, which is something Smart can do.
You can't label Smart as a point guard, and he's also not a classic NBA wing. Hence the projections as a versatile utility guard in the mold of Jack and Wade.
3. Julius Randle, Kentucky PF (6'9" Freshman)
NBA Comparison: Poor-man's Moses Malone/Lamar Odom hybrid
With a nose for the ball and a hunger to get to the rim, Kentucky's Julius Randle could have an interior impact like 1980s "Chairman of the Boards" Moses Malone.
The 6'9" freshman is a powerful presence in the paint, as he goes up strong to the hoop and beats everyone else to his misses. Much like Malone, Randle is great at carving out space and timing his rebounding attack.
Randle also has the tools and upside to become a high-motor version of southpaw standout Lamar Odom. With some more practice and polish, the Wildcats youngster could handle the rock more and stretch the defense with his shooting.
In other drafts, this kind of potential would earn him a top selection. The mid-lottery club that scoops him up will get 250 pounds of rebounding plus other long-term benefits.
2. Jabari Parker, Duke F (6'8" Freshman)
NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony/Paul Pierce hybrid
Given his footwork, body type, versatility and talent for taking over a game, Jabari Parker is looking a lot like the next Carmelo Anthony-Paul Pierce hybrid.
He's only a few months out of high school, but Parker can score from anywhere on the floor and he does a brilliant job of setting up his shots. Low-post skills and a 240-pound body will enable him to operate as a power forward for extended stretches like 'Melo, and his mid-range shot-creating is a blend of 'Melo and Pierce's repertoires.
Parker can utilize step-back separation like Pierce, and then elevate to shoot like Anthony. He can also finish deftly with either hand, which reminds us of Pierce's ambidexterity. And last but not least, his drop-step spin moves are 'Melo-esque.
Defensively, Parker is also comparable to this duo, for better or worse. When he's in the right spot and is assertive, he can be effective, but oftentimes the talent and speed aren't there.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas SF (6'8" Freshman)
NBA Comparison: Tracy McGrady/Dominique Wilkins hybrid
Imagine the shooting and scoring skills of Tracy McGrady combined with the sheer athletic dominance of Dominique Wilkins.
That's Andrew Wiggins' pro comparison, and it's a scary one for the rest of the league if he reaches it.
Wiggins' ball-handling skills may never be as fluid as T-Mac's, but he's got the potential to elevate and shoot from all over the place, not to mention adjust in mid-air while swooping to the hoop.
When Wiggins is bent on attacking the rim and launching over everyone to do so, he's got some Dominique in him. Even when really athletic players wanted to contest Wilkins, they couldn't do it because he was on another level. If Kansas' youngster puts on some muscle, the comparison will become even more realistic.
This McGrady/Wilkins blend is an optimistic one for Wiggins, but attainable nonetheless.
Dan O'Brien covers the NBA Draft for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter: @DanielO_BR