The Best Current Comparison for Every 2012 NBA First-Round Pick

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 14, 2012

The Best Current Comparison for Every 2012 NBA First-Round Pick

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    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

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    School: Kentucky

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    School: Kentucky

    Position: SF

    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

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    School: Florida

    Position: SG

    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

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    School: Syracuse

    Position: PG/SG

    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

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    School: Kansas

    Position: PF

    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

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    School: Weber State

    Position: PG/SG

    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

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    School: North Carolina

    Position: SF

    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

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    School: Washington

    Position: SG/SF

    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

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    School: Connecticut

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    School: Duke

    Position: PG/SG

    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

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    School: Illinois

    Position: C

    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

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    School: Connecticut

    Position: SG/SF

    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

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    School: North Carolina

    Position: PG

    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

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    School: North Carolina

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    School: St. John's

    Position: SG/SF

    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

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    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

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    School: North Carolina

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    School: Kentucky

    Position: SF/PF

    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

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    School: St. Bonaventure

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    Last Team: Poitiers (France)

    Position: SG/SF

    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

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    School: Ohio State

    Position: PF

    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

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    School: Syracuse

    Position: C

    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

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    School: Vanderbilt

    Position: SG

    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

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    School: Oregon State

    Position: SG

    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

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    School: Washington

    Position: PG/SG

    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

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    School: Duke

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    School: Mississippi State

    Position: PF/C

    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

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    School: Baylor

    Position: PF

    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

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    School: Kentucky

    Position: PG

    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

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    School: Vanderbilt

    Position: C

    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

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