The Best Current Comparison for Every 2012 NBA First-Round Pick
While every first-round pick from the 2012 NBA draft is a unique player, each member of this rookie class ends up reminding us NBA fans of a player currently rostered in the big leagues.
From Anthony Davis at No. 1 to Festus Ezeli at No. 30, comparisons are abound when looking at the playing styles of these 30 players.
Please note that these comparisons are for playing style only. They do not necessarily indicate a certain expectation of success or failure.
In other words, if I compare someone to Michael Jordan—which isn't happening because he's not a current player—it doesn't mean that I'm predicting the player will become the new greatest of all time.
It simply means that I expect athleticism, ball-dominance, well-rounded play and defensive proficiency.
Trust me, it's important that you keep that in mind.
Let's make some comparisons.
1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets
Vitals: 6'10", 220 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Anthony Davis is a very unique talent, so he's the only one of the 30 players in this article to receive not one, but two comparisons.
With his unibrow firmly planted above his eyes, the former Kentucky standout is a shot-blocking specialist with a well-rounded game on both ends of the court.
Although his scoring could stand to improve, Davis is an above-average passer and plays the game intelligently at all times.
Comparison: Marcus Camby/Kevin Garnett with a unibrow
2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Bobcats
Vitals: 6'7", 232 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist doesn't have a consistent jumper and he's not going to be a leading scorer at any point in the near future, but he's going to be quite successful thanks to his intangibles and all-around contributions.
The former Wildcat can capably play either forward spot and his perimeter defense will allow him to make immediate contributions.
Thriving in transition, MKG's heart and effort is going to add at least a win or two to the Charlotte Bobcats' record.
Comparison: Andre Iguodala
3. Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Vitals: 6'3", 207 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Bradley Beal has been compared to Ray Allen quite a few times, but the incoming shooting guard for the Washington Wizards possesses neither the athleticism nor the dribbling skills that the all-time three-point king laid claim to early in his career.
A much more accurate comparison is Eric Gordon, as both young guards can score in a variety of ways while appearing as smooth as silk.
Beal is a natural scorer, whether he's firing from long-range or driving toward the rim.
Comparison: Eric Gordon
4. Dion Waiters, Cleveland Cavaliers
Vitals: 6'4", 215 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists
Thanks to his ability to line up at either the 1 or the 2, Dion Waiters has to be compared to another combo-guard.
A certain member of the Detroit Pistons is the best pick for comparison here because of his strength, ability to finish around the rim and game that's predicated upon slashing to the basket.
On offense, Waiters might remind some people of Dwyane Wade, but he's nowhere near the defender necessary to make that comparison a viable one.
Comparison: Rodney Stuckey
5. Thomas Robinson, Sacramento Kings
Vitals: 6'10", 237 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Thomas Robinson is one of the most difficult players in this draft class to find a match for. I've seen him compared to Amar'e Stoudemire, Udonis Haslem, Paul Millsap, Elton Brand, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin.
Of those players, Haslem has the most similar playing style.
That's not to say that Robinson will end up as effective as Haslem though. He'll be far better than the big man currently playing for the Miami Heat ever was.
However, it's still the most apt comparison because of the tenacity on the glass and the style of offense.
Comparison: Udonis Haslem
6. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
School: Weber State
Vitals: 6'3", 195 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists
With the shooting skills of a shooting guard and the playmaking skills of a point guard, Damian Lillard is a combo-guard who will thrive when he's allowed to run the show.
The former Weber State Wildcat is a sniper from downtown and he doesn't miss often when he gets to the charity stripe.
His creativity and sneaky athleticism add to this comparison, but what really completes it is his apparent lack of effort on the defensive end of the court.
Comparison: Stephen Curry
7. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors
School: North Carolina
Vitals: 6'8", 215 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists
A deadly player from distance with athleticism that can create highlights but won't blow you away on a daily basis, Harrison Barnes has an interesting ceiling.
He's never going to be a No. 1 option capable of leading a team to a championship, but he can become a No. 1 option for a playoff team.
The Golden State Warriors would be thrilled if he quickly became as solid on both ends of the court as this current member of the Indiana Pacers.
Comparison: Danny Granger
8. Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors
Vitals: 6'6", 195 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Thanks to his well-rounded style of play, fantastic jumper and superior athletic ability, Terrence Ross is ready to contribute from day one if the Toronto Raptors are willing to give him an opportunity at either shooting guard or small forward.
Ross has the offensive game necessary to become the leader of a team on the more glamorous end of the court.
Plus, he has a certain flair for the dramatic and should become a regular SportsCenter contributor.
Comparison: Rudy Gay
9. Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Vitals: 6'10", 270 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 10 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.4 assists
Still just about as raw as they come, Andre Drummond won't contribute much during his rookie season, even if he gets a significant amount of playing time alongside Greg Monroe.
Drummond can block shots and pull down rebounds, but he's not much of an offensive player at all. The potential is there. It just hasn't been realized yet.
Even if he fails to live up to his lofty draft slot, the former Connecticut Husky one-and-done will make a roster as a shot-blocker.
Comparison: DeAndre Jordan with some touch
10. Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets
Vitals: 6'4", 200 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists
A conscienceless shooter who can get into the lane at will and finish spectacularly, Austin Rivers still isn't sure if he's more of a point guard or a shooting guard.
He wants to play more like the latter, but it seems as though the New Orleans Hornets are pushing him toward the former. At least he has the handles to excel there.
Rivers is a scorer first and foremost and has the potential to become one of the most dynamic offensive guards in the NBA.
Comparison: Monta Ellis
11. Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
Vitals: 7'1", 245 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists
An unpolished player on both ends of the court, Meyers Leonard possesses in abundance the one thing that can't be taught: size.
He's a solid defender at the moment, but he could stand to improve his focus on the boards and make good on his immense potential.
A hard-worker, Leonard is going to play an unglamorous brand of basketball that will leave him vastly underrated as he progresses during his run in the NBA.
Comparison: Anderson Varejao
12. Jeremy Lamb, Houston Rockets
Vitals: 6'5", 180 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists
With solid defensive skills and a pull-up jumper from distance to die for, Jeremy Lamb has the upside necessary to one day earn a huge contract and then annoy his fans into disliking him.
Lamb has such a smooth offensive game that I already can't help but think about a player I've spent a lot of time watching during the last decade.
He's not quite the passer that this former Razorback was, but that can be developed in time.
Comparison: Joe Johnson
13. Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns
School: North Carolina
Vitals: 6'4", 195 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 8.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 9.8 assists
Kendall Marshall is a sensational passer, but he could use a little bit of help in a few areas.
For one, he could become a more dynamic scorer, capable of making defenses pay when they shut down the passing lanes and give him too much space.
Secondly, the southpaw could learn how to play a little bit of defense.
If he can't improve those aspects of his game, Marshall is destined to become a good passer who doesn't help teams win games.
Comparison: Jose Calderon
14. John Henson, Milwaukee Bucks
School: North Carolina
Vitals: 6'11", 220 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists
If there's any player in this draft class who has the ability to become a shot-blocking power forward who can hit the pick-and-pop jumper—without the last name "Davis"—it would be John Henson.
Henson must add some strength to his frame, but he possesses length and instincts in spades. He should make an immediate impact in the shot-blocking department as he strives to improve the rest of his game.
Comparison: Serge Ibaka
15. Maurice Harkless, Orlando Magic
School: St. John's
Vitals: 6'8", 208 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists
Sure, I've already used Maurice Harkless' comparison for someone else, but that doesn't make it any less valid.
The artist formerly known as Moe can leap through the roof, fills the swingman role to perfection, thrives in transition and plays great perimeter defense with his quick hands.
Plus, Harkless was involved in the same trade as his comparison.
Comparison: Andre Iguodala
16. Royce White, Houston Rockets
School: Iowa State
Position: No Idea (but really SF/PF)
Vitals: 6'8", 270 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5 assists
Royce White is one of the strangest players in this draft class. His lack of a true position and ridiculous diversity of talents is simply astounding.
The former Iowa State Cyclone will likely settle in as a power forward with great passing skills. White will be able to facilitate out of the block and also run the show from the perimeter on occasion.
His uniqueness allows only one comparison.
Comparison: Boris Diaw
17. Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers
School: North Carolina
Vitals: 7'0", 250 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists
Tyler Zeller still needs to develop his outside shot to make this comparison a perfect one, but his versatility does allow for it.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel has a veritable arsenal of post moves at his disposal, even at his young age.
He's also a solid defender and an above-average passer.
Comparison: Pau Gasol
18. Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets
Vitals: 6'9", 252 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 12.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Terrence Jones has an insane amount of physical tools. If he can get his head screwed on straight and focus throughout a game, he has the potential to become a lockdown defender on the inside or outside.
Whether he's blocking shots, preventing points or stealing the ball away, Jones can and will contribute defensively.
He also loves to use his athleticism to drive to the hoop and isn't afraid to take some jumpers.
Comparison: Josh Smith
19. Andrew Nicholson, Orlando Magic
School: St. Bonaventure
Vitals: 6'9", 240 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.0 assists
A 6'9" big man capable of playing either power forward or center, Andrew Nicholson might not have the size necessary for his position, but he makes up for it with toughness and desire.
Nicholson used to be a perimeter player and is quickly learning how to play on the blocks. His post moves are quickly starting to show that he has the potential for top marks in the footwork department.
He may not have skipped college, but he did go to a small school. In terms of NBA preparation, that's at least close, right?
Comparison: Al Jefferson
20. Evan Fournier, Denver Nuggets
Last Team: Poitiers (France)
Vitals: 6'7", 206 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists (in Pro A France)
Evan Fournier never seems to play outside of the natural flow of the offense, but he still doesn't hesitate to attack the rim whenever he can.
A foreign player hoping to find success stateside, Fournier has a surprising amount of athleticism. His creativity is still his primary asset on offense, although his jumper is still developing.
Fournier has the potential to become the latest foreign steal in the draft.
Comparison: Manu Ginobili
21. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics
School: Ohio State
Vitals: 6'9", 265 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Jared Sullinger may not have NBA-level size or athleticism, but he has the finesse and desire necessary to become a successful NBA power forward.
This match isn't a perfect one by any stretch of the imagination. Sullinger's motor is a question mark and he's not going to be the defender that his comparison is.
However, in this age without many true back-to-the-basket players, Sullinger is going to have to settle for a mediocre comparison seeing as no better ones exist.
Comparison: Paul Millsap
22. Fab Melo, Boston Celtics
Vitals: 7'0", 255 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 0.7 assists
Fab Melo's ceiling is significantly higher than this comparison, but right now he's a limited player.
After thriving in the Syracuse zone, even defense might be a struggle for this true 7-footer. If his calling card isn't played correctly, his offense isn't exactly going to help him make a name for himself.
At this stage of his career, Melo's comparison has to be a defensively-oriented big man who only makes contributions on that less glamorous end of the court.
It's a bit ironic, seeing as Carmelo Anthony—whose nickname, Melo, is the same as Fab's last name—is the complete opposite.
Comparison: Joel Anthony
23. John Jenkins, Atlanta Hawks
Vitals: 6'4", 215 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 19.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists
This might be a lofty comparison, but before you accuse me of being an Atlanta Hawks homer, scan through my article archive and you'll realize that I've been making this match for over a year. Yes, that's long before there was any indication that John Jenkins would become a member of the Hawks.
It's not just Jenkins' top-of-the-class shooting ability that lends itself to this comparison. His ability to use off-ball screens to free himself plays a large part as well.
Jenkins probably won't challenge for the all-time lead in three-pointers made, but he will have a successful career and show off his beautiful stroke quite often.
Comparison: Ray Allen
24. Jared Cunningham, Dallas Mavericks
School: Oregon State
Vitals: 6'4", 194 pounds
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists
Jared Cunningham has the hops necessary to jump through the roof and keep on rising. With quick hands and his athleticism, the shooting guard from Oregon State has the potential to become an impact player on both ends of the court.
However, there are some negatives.
Cunningham doesn't have the required consistency on his jumper and won't be allowed to shoot much at the next level. Additionally, he's too skinny to succeed right now.
Comparison: Paul George
25. Tony Wroten, Memphis Grizzlies
Vitals: 6'5", 205 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists
Tony Wroten was a great defender at the collegiate level and his physical tools should allow for an easy transition on that end of the court.
On offense, the combo-guard is a slasher who can do just about anything he wants when the ball is in his hands.
His jumper is just about broken and needs some serious improvement, but he's more than adept at creating shots both for himself and his teammates.
Comparison: Dwyane Wade
26. Miles Plumlee, Indiana Pacers
Vitals: 6'10", 245 pounds
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 6.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists
An insanely athletic power forward who can explode off the ground multiple times in quick succession, Miles Plumlee will be a frequent alley-oop target whenever he's on the court.
However, he doesn't bring too much else to the table besides an above-average talent for rebounding.
Plumlee isn't the greatest defender and his offensive game is extremely limited. He'll develop, but it might be a slow process.
Comparison: Josh McRoberts
27. Arnett Moultrie, Philadelphia 76ers
School: Mississippi State
Vitals: 6'11", 230 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 16.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Given his impressive physical stature and his above-average athleticism, you might expect for Arnett Moultrie to swat away shot after shot. You'd be waiting a long time for that to happen.
Moultrie does have a number of moves, whether he's on the block or showing off his smooth mid-range game. He's a capable defender and an above-average rebounder who can capably play either power forward or center.
The former Mississippi State big man may never be the most glamorous player in the building, but he'll be a consistent contributor once he's given playing time.
Comparison: Al Horford
28. Perry Jones III, Oklahoma City Thunder
Vitals: 6'11", 235 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 13.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists
It's all about potential here.
Even though he fell to No. 28 in the draft, Perry Jones III will be a bust if he isn't willing to work hard and doesn't develop something that at least resembles consistency.
However, his athleticism and versatility will make him a huge steal if he is willing to work hard on his game and improve.
In other words, his comparison is perfect from a physical standpoint and the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping that it doesn't work from a mental perspective.
Comparison: Anthony Randolph
29. Marquis Teague, Chicago Bulls
Vitals: 6'2", 189 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 10 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists
The fact that Marquis Teague has an older brother already playing in the NBA makes this a rather simple comparison.
Teague has the same sneaky athleticism and ball-handling skills that his sibling possesses. He still needs to work on his decision-making, but his facilitating is fairly far along.
Additionally, he has the quick hands necessary to challenge any offensive player.
Comparison: Jeff Teague
30. Festus Ezeli, Golden State Warriors
Vitals: 6'11", 255 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists
With a big and strong frame, Festus Ezeli is going to use his physical tools to make a name for himself in the NBA.
I have my questions about his ability to thrive at the next level, but Ezeli does have an impressive amount of strength and a well-rounded game.
One day, he could develop into a feasible two-way player capable of anchoring a team.
Comparison: Roy Hibbert