NBA Draft 2011: Comparing Top 25 Prospects to Historical NBA Figures

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIIMay 25, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Comparing Top 25 Prospects to Historical NBA Figures

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    The 2011 NBA Draft continues to inch closer, and more is surfacing about each prospect.

    Each player is trying to impress teams so they can improve their draft position. As some players rise up the ranks, some see their stock start to drop.

    A common thing to do is to compare a player to a current NBA star to give people a feel for their skill set. This gives some the idea that a player is destined for stardom. However, players are just likened to a big-name player to give the average fan an idea of their style of play.

    How about comparing the up-and-comers to the biggest names the game has ever seen?

    With this list, the top 25 players on Chad Ford's big board will be paralleled with some of the best players ever to play in the NBA.

    These comparisons should not be blown out of proportion. They are merely noticeable similarities, not career predictions.

    Here we go.

Kyrie Irving : Nate Archibald

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    Nate "Tiny" Archibald is a little bit smaller than Kyrie Irving, but the key similarity is the ability to get to the rim.

    Archibald is said to have invented penetration and was the first point guard to be an elite scorer. Irving has the potential to do just that with his bag of tricks and knack for scoring.

    Watch out for Irving in the big league.

Derrick Williams : Larry Nance

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    It was incredibly difficult to find a comparison for Derrick Williams.

    Williams has a game that's tough to define because he's good at so many different things. Larry Nance was one of the few players of the past that can do everything Williams can do with similar height.

    Nance won the 1984 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and Williams can really bring down the house on dunks. Both players have outside shots and are high-energy players.

    It might not be perfect, but it's close.

Enes Kanter : Dirk Nowitzki

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    In no way do I believe that Enes Kanter has the shooting ability of Dirk Nowitzki.

    However, the rest of Kanter's game is fairly similar to that of a young Dirk. Kanter can shoot from downtown, but not with the skill of Nowitzki. He's one of the few players I had to compare to an active player, because the games were remarkably similar.

    Kanter is a rare breed. He is almost seven feet tall, and he has the foot speed and handling ability to take the ball to the rim from the perimeter. When Dirk first came to the league, he used to dribble-drive more.

    Who else could you compare Kanter's game to?

Brandon Knight : Walt Frazier

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    Walt Frazier's defining characteristic was his ability to defend the basketball.

    Brandon Knight is the best defender at the point in this year's draft. Both players are also excellent scorers, especially when the team needs someone to step up.

    Frazier was a complete player. Knight has the tools to be a complete player, but is still raw in some aspects of the game.

Jan Vesely : Derrick Coleman

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    This comparison is to a young, athletic Derrick Coleman, not an old, lazy Coleman.

    Vesely is a big man that loves to play above the rim. He loves to throw down alley-oops and run the floor with the guards. Coleman was significantly stronger than Vesely is, but Vesely has time to make improvements in that department.

    Hopefully, this comparison doesn't extend to passion for the game, and Vesely can avoid the late-career slump that plagued Coleman.

Kawhi Leonard : James Worthy

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    Kawhi Leonard was another tough comparison.

    Not too many defensive-minded, rebounding small forwards from the past are well known. Leonard's defensive ability and unbelievable wingspan help liken him to James Worthy. Worthy's best offensive aspect was getting to the rim, and that's what Leonard does best.

    Worthy was never really the go-to option on his team, and Leonard may be a role player for the better part of his career.

Kemba Walker : Allen Iverson

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    The ability to create his own shots and control the game by Kemba Walker reminds me of Allen Iverson.

    Amazing scoring ability with small stature make these two players alike. Iverson is quicker than Kemba, but both players get to the rim with incredible consistency. Both players are very tough, giving it their all each time they touch the court. The knack for stealing the ball is yet another similarity between the two.

    Kemba won't score as much as A.I. did, but he'll score in similar ways.

Jonas Valanciunas : Bill Walton

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    Jonas Valanciunas is a fairly traditional big man for an international player.

    His touch around the rim, coupled with magnificent rebounding and shot-blocking, remind me of Bill Walton. Walton made a living around the rim, with no true game from the outside. Valanciunas doesn't really have a perimeter game right now.

    Will Valanciunas stay in the paint as he progresses? Who knows?

    If not, the comparison to Walton won't really hold up.

Tristan Thompson : Horace Grant

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    Don't take this as a shot at Tristan Thompson's offensive game.

    This is simply a tribute to Thompson's innate ability on the offensive glass and his shot-blocking ability on the other end. Horace Grant, like Thompson, wasn't dominant at any one thing, but did everything well. Thompson will have a shooting percentage similar to Grant's career 51 percent.

    Throw some goggles on Thompson, and you might get the two confused.

Chris Singleton : Scottie Pippen

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    Chris Singleton is a superb defensive small forward with a streaky jump shot that struggles from deep.

    Sound familiar?

    Scottie Pippen immediately comes to mind when I see Singleton play. He seems like he can be a "Robin" to someone's "Batman," but lacks the true offensive tools to be a superstar. The athleticism and hustle that both two players embody helps the comparison.

    Singleton could be a top defensive player in the NBA for years to come, with his length being a huge factor.

Bismack Biyombo : Dikembe Mutombo

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    Did you really think it was going to be anyone else?

    Both players from Congo. Their names basically rhyme, and their games would too if it were possible. Unbelievably active on the defensive end with amazing rebounding ability, but can look lost on the offensive end. Biyombo will be hearing comparisons to Mutombo for his entire career.

    If Biyombo can block half the shots Mutombo did, his career will be a success.

Alec Burks : Clyde Drexler

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    Alec Burks is the most athletic, talented shooting guard in the draft.

    His ability to get to the rim and finish with style brings images of Clyde Drexler to mind. Drexler got by with pure athleticism, and Burks has to do the same when his jump shot falls off the map. Burks is an explosive leaper that loves to slash to the basket whenever there's a seam.

    Burks will be seen on the top plays of SportsCenter many times during his rookie season.

Jordan Hamilton : Alex English

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    Jordan Hamilton has the variety in his offensive game that could draw comparisons to Alex English.

    English could score in so many different ways despite his unorthodox jump shot. Hamilton isn't the most impressive athlete in the draft, but he gets the job done with his knowledge of the game. English had a much longer wingspan than Hamilton has, but both players possess an all-around game.

    Hamilton needs to work on his shot selection, as he'll likely have a better supporting cast than English ever did.

Marcus Morris : Rasheed Wallace

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    Marcus Morris reminds me of Rasheed Wallace in so many different ways.

    Morris' rare ability to be a strong post presence, along with the ability to shoot lights out from three-point range, makes him very similar to Wallace. Both players are good rebounders, with some skill at beating their defender off the dribble. Even their body types are remarkably similar.

    This may be the most spot-on correlation on the entire list.

Klay Thompson : Glen Rice

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    Klay Thompson's unreal three-point shooting stroke reminds me of Glen Rice.

    Rice is one of the best pure shooters the game has ever seen, but can score in other ways too. Thompson is the same way, with little else to brag about in his game. Rice was one of the most consistent shooters the game has ever seen, and Thompson has the potential to be up there with him.

    Thompson looks like he could be a great catch-and-shoot player in the NBA.

Tobias Harris : Adrian Dantley

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    Adrian Dantley was technically a small forward, but he played like a power forward.

    Tobias Harris' skills off the dribble and with his back to the basket resemble Dantley, as does his body type. Neither player gets by with tremendous athleticism, using high basketball IQ to get the job done instead.

    Harris' improvisation around the rim could also be equated with Dantley's.

Jimmer Fredette : Mitch Richmond

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    Jimmer Fredette loves to pull up off the dribble.

    Mitch Richmond used to be one of the best in the game at surprising the defenders with a jump shot out of nowhere. Anyone can do that, but Fredette and Richmond share the ability of hitting more than they miss. In order to pull this off, both players need elite ball-handling ability.

    Fredette can only hope to have career stats like Richmond, because his entire career relies on his shot.

Josh Selby : Isiah Thomas

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    Isiah Thomas is one of the few point guards of the past with the athleticism of someone like Selby.

    Selby has a strong build that resembles Thomas, and he excels at driving to the hoop. Both players are extremely aggressive on defense and have a sort of flash to their game. After a dunk, you'd see either player signaling to the crowd or yelling in celebration.

    Selby is virtually all potential right now. He still needs a couple years to develop.

Marshon Brooks : George Gervin

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    Marshon Brooks doesn't have the finger roll that George Gervin had, but it's the scoring touch that brings about the comparison.

    Absurd wingspans make both players appear the same. Brooks is a good rebounder for a guard with a quick first step and an above average jump shot. Brooks can truly finish around the rim, although no one did it quite like Gervin did.

    Brooks may struggle with the transition initially, but he'll get the hang of the NBA soon enough.

Kenneth Faried : Dennis Rodman

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    Kenneth Faried was the best rebounder in college last year, despite his inferior size.

    Dennis Rodman did the same thing in his playing days, becoming arguably the best rebounder under 7' tall in NBA history. Faried's chiseled physique helps him get in prime position to grab every rebound. Both players also had a huge wingspan and a tremendous work ethic.

    Faried played his college ball at Morehead State, so he may have a bigger drop-off in production than most expect.

Donatas Motiejunas : Vlade Divac

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    Donatas Motiejunas is a smart basketball player that gets the job done around the bucket.

    Motiejunas has glimpses of Vlade Divac with his ability to do a little bit of everything. He's competent with both hands and is fully capable of hitting a mid-range jumper. The facet that reminds me of Divac the most is his passing ability, something that Divac may have been the best at of all big men in the NBA.

    Motiejunas needs to put on a few pounds if he wants to live up to expectations surrounding his game.

Markieff Morris : Chris Webber

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    Markieff Morris, like his brother, is being compared to a relatively modern NBA player.

    Morris reminds me of Chris Webber with his leaping ability and post-up game. Both Morris and Webber can hit the fadeaway jump shot with a defender all over them, but can also face up and blow by the defender. Defense is not lost on either player, with shots being knocked away left and right.

    Markieff may potentially be a better immediate player in the NBA than Marcus.

Nikola Mirotic : Peja Stojakovic

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    It's so difficult to compare an international player to anything but another foreign-born player. The style of play is so different overseas that different players arise.

    Nikola Mirotic has many similar characteristics to Peja Stojakovic. The first worth mentioning is the perimeter shooting of such a tall player. Mirotic can put the ball on the floor, but is less comfortable with that aspect of his game than his shot. Crafty offensive and clever defense are also shared aspects of both players' games.

    Mirotic will be one of the few 6'10" small forwards in the game, which creates a mismatch for most opponents.

Charles Jenkins : Stephon Marbury

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    Stephon Marbury isn't really a highly regarded figure in the NBA, but Charles Jenkins' playing style reminds me of him.

    Jenkins is built more like a shooting guard and plays more like one, just like "Starbury" did in his heyday. His calling on the court is putting the ball in the hoop, but he can distribute the ball if the situation calls for it. He's a physical player that gets to the free throw line more than a traditional point guard.

    If Charles Jenkins gets his career off to the start that Marbury did, he'll be more than happy with his performance.

Reggie Jackson : Steve Francis

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    Reggie Jackson is one of the more athletic players you'll ever see play point guard. In the open court, Jackson gives the crowd a treat with his stylish dunks.

    Steve Francis came to mind when I saw Jackson throw down. A high-scoring point guard with insane hops and a quick first step reminded me of the days when "Franchise" was running the show in Houston. Jackson has great court vision, as did Francis, but both players would much rather shoot than pass.

    Jackson will look more like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook than he will Steve Nash or Rajon Rondo.


    Can you think of any better comparisons to historical players for any of the prospects?

    If so, comment and send me your ideas.