2020 NBA Draft: Pro Player Comparisons for Projected Lottery Picks
Pro player comparisons can be a useful tool for painting a picture of how a draft prospect fits into the NBA.
These comparisons combine physical traits, skill sets, weaknesses and styles, and there was an effort made to make sure the pro's status—star, starter, role player or reserve—matched with our projection for the prospect.
Some of this year's prospects are too unique and required a blend comparison of two different players.
Anthony Edwards: Donovan Mitchell/Zach LaVine
With Zach LaVine's height, Donovan Mitchell's build and both of their athletic abilities, shot selections and scoring firepower, Anthony Edwards will get No. 1 overall consideration.
All three love their pull-up games and hero jumpers, which they can hit from well beyond the arc or inside it in the mid-range. Their games aren't always conducive for efficient performances, but they can score in bunches and volume to take over games.
Explosiveness also translates to highlight real dunks and finishes.
And though known for their shot-making, Edwards, LaVine and Mitchell can act as a secondary playmakers due to their ball-handling and general skill.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: -110
LaMelo Ball: Jason Williams/Caris LeVert
LaMelo Ball's NBA identity will revolve around passing and flare. He reminds of former Sacramento Kings/Memphis Grizzlies point guard Jason Williams in that sense, with his showboat handles and flashy assists.
Ball will similarly be valued for his ability to set up teammates playing at different speeds. And like Williams, he likes to quick-trigger threes despite not being very efficient. For his career, Williams made 1.6 threes per game on 32.7 percent, numbers that reflect Ball's shot-making and inconsistent accuracy.
But Ball also stands 6'7". There aren't many passers that size outside of Luka Doncic or Ben Simmons, but Ball can't score like Doncic, and Simmons' offensive style and defensive impact are way too different.
In terms of height and scoring, Ball resembles Caris LeVert, who uses ball screens frequently and doesn't like the mid-range. Similarly, Ball's game is mostly pick-and-roll, threes and layups.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +300
Deni Avdija: Gordon Hayward
Deni Avdija's physical profile and game mirror Gordon Hayward's 6'7", 225-pound size and offensive versatility.
They're best as secondary or complementary scorers. Neither are the most advanced shot-creators, but they can drive and shot-make from the mid-range and three. They're able to work from off the ball or with it in ball-screen situations. And both log minutes as combo forwards at the 3 and 4, thanks to their size, perimeter skills and improved frames. Avdija already looks stronger than Hayward did coming into the league.
Like Hayward, who averaged 4.1 assists this season, Avdija can also pass and play-make, which he was only able to show in spurts with Maccabi Tel Aviv. For Israel at the U20 European Championships, he averaged 5.3 assists, playing the role of point-wing.
Avdija won't be the focal point of a winning team's offense, but he has the chance develop into a star role player who scores and passes, ideally as a third option.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +1300
James Wiseman: Hassan Whiteside/Andre Drummond
Depending on how much James Wiseman's skill develops over the next several years, Hassan Whiteside could be a floor comparison. But until the 19-year-old shows he can be a reliable mid-range shooter or post scorer, he'll resemble Whiteside and Andre Drummond, centers who make their NBA money by finishing, rebounding and protecting the rim.
At 7'1" and 240 pounds with a 7'6" wingspan, Wiseman has elite physical tools that practically mirror Whiteside's 7'0", 235-pound frame. They're both enormous targets above the rim whose length creates a huge defensive presence in the paint.
He's a bit more threatening offensively like Drummond, but none of these 5s possess much versatility in terms of playing around the perimeter. At this stage, Wiseman projects as an anchor in the middle, valued more for his body and athleticism than his polish or feel.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +200
Obi Toppin: John Collins
Obi Toppin (6'9", 220 lbs) shares John Collins' size (6'9", 235 lbs) and explosiveness for playing high above the rim. They're easy-bucket machines off dump-downs, lobs, pick-and-rolls and putbacks.
Like Collins, Toppin figures to shoot a high percentage based on his tools for finishing. But he also took a big leap forward with his three-point shot, as did Collins, who's suddenly turning into a more comfortable stretch big.
Toppin shot 39.0 percent from deep as a sophomore, a key selling point that's put him in the top-three-overall discussion.
Despite all of Collins' efficient production, limited defensive impact may cast a cloud over his numbers and value. Teams' big question with Toppin is how much his suspect defense will negate his offense. But between his athleticism and expanding skill set, he seems on track to match Collins' scoring averages.
No. 1 Overall Pick Odds: +1300
Onyeka Okongwu: Derrick Favors
Teams will target Onyeka Okongwu for his presence around the rim as a finisher, offensive rebounder and rim protector. He'll enter the league as Derrick Favors did when he was the No. 3 overall pick in 2010.
Younger Favors was explosive. Okongwu will similarly make his money inside at both ends of the floor.
Aside from the dunks, putbacks and blocks, they also work as low-post players teams can feature in space. Okongwu ranked in the 94th percentile out of the post, and though he isn't a shooter, his 15-of-35 mark on half-court jumpers was encouraging for his potential to make shots around the key.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +4000
Isaac Okoro: OG Anunoby
Skeptics have compared Isaac Okoro to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. OG Anunoby is a more optimistic projection if he can improve his shooting.
They're similar in terms of their builds and defensive tools. Both possess strong frames, powerful legs and quick feet, physical traits that translate to lockdown potential and the versatility to guard bigs, wings and ball-handlers.
Offensively, they're both limited creators but efficient off-ball scorers. Okoro shot 60.7 percent inside the arc this season, mostly by taking what the defense gave up as a driver and cutter.
Even if Okoro can't reach Anunoboy's shooting accuracy, he'll play a similar spot-up role offensively.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +5000
Tyrese Haliburton: Lonzo Ball
Passing IQ separates Tyrese Haliburton, who possesses similar size (6'5", 175 lbs) and athletic limitations as Lonzo Ball (6'6", 190 lbs).
They both also happen to share unorthodox shooting mechanics, which hinder their pull-up jumpers. But Haliburton and Ball are valued on the floor for their ability to move the rock and find teammates. Their special playmaking vision and skill are optimized by having more threatening scorers and shot-makers around them.
Given their limited blow-by burst, they ideally serve as secondary ball-handlers next to faster point guards. Ball has looked more effective playing with Jrue Holiday. Haliburton, who shot 49.3 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers, should similarly play minutes at the 2.
Like Ball's, Haliburton's assist numbers and impact will ultimately outshine his scoring average.'
No. 1 Pick Odds: +5000
Devin Vassell: Mikal Bridges
Devin Vassell could be the draft's most desirable three-and-D wing with similar measurements (6'6", 180 lbs), strengths and limitations as Mikal Bridges (6'6", 210 lbs).
Neither is used to create offense. Instead, they're spot-up shooters who score on off-ball actions toward the rim. Vassell shot over 40.0 percent from deep during both seasons at Florida State while using his athleticism to finish in transition and on both drives and cuts.
Defensively, both possess the tools to guard positions 1-4, and they own strong IQs and physical abilities to make plays off their anticipation.
Like Bridges, Vassell projects as a role player—but potentially a valuable one who could move the needle for a team if he lands in the right situation.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +10000
Patrick Williams: Miles Bridges
A powerful combo forward, Patrick Williams' game could resemble Miles Bridges.
They use strength and athleticism at both ends, and though neither are high-level creators, they're capable three-point shooters, threats to attack closeouts, post-up options and skilled passers regardless of what the assist numbers say.
And they can each guard multiple positions. It wouldn't be surprising to see Williams defend positions 3-5 as Bridges has.
They aren't focal points of an offense or lockdown defenders, but they possess similar physical profiles and two-way versatility.
No. 1 Pick Odds: N/A
Killian Hayes: Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic didn't enter the league as a shooter, and neither will Killian Hayes, who'll make his mark with ball-screen passing and crafty offense.
Dragic eventually became comfortable from three, and an optimistic projection shows Hayes also improving based on the jump he made this year and the touch he's consistently shown on free throws and mid-range shots.
Otherwise, they're both efficient two-point scorers and clever playmakers who compensate for limited athleticism with skill and IQ.
Continuing to extend his range could help Hayes become a well-rounded threat and a quality NBA starter with borderline All-Star upside.
No. 1 Pick Odds: +2500
Saddiq Bey: Cameron Johnson
Saddiq Bey emerged as one of the draft's top shooters after hitting 45.1 percent of his threes. With 6'8" size, he's similar to Cameron Johnson, another 6'8" combo-forward sniper who does most of his shooting work off the ball.
Bey ranked in the 98th percentile in both spot-ups and converting off screens. He's a specialty shot-maker like Johnson, who also isn't a major threat to create one-on-one.
Neither are exciting athletically, but they both add value with their basketball IQ and by moving the ball and defending. Like Johnson was for the Phoenix Suns, Bey should be an immediate plug-and-play rookie for his positional size, shooting and discipline.
No. 1 Pick Odds: N/A
Jalen Smith: Myles Turner
Scouts have slowly started jumping on the Jalen Smith bandwagon after he returned to Maryland and improved his body and shooting. Like Myles Turner, he can serve as a rim protector or stretch big with touch outside the paint.
Neither is a face-up player or ball-handler. Instead, they work as finishers and post players who can square up and shoot over their defenders. Along with averaging a three-point make, Smith also grabbed 10.5 boards and blocked 2.4 shots per game.
Turner has never been a high-volume scorer or assist threat, and Smith won't be, either. Instead, he'll be similarly valued for his interior defense, activity and ability to stretch the floor.
No. 1 Pick Odds: N/A
Aaron Nesmith: Terrence Ross
Aaron Nesmith's game is all about catch-and-shooting, whether out of spot-ups or off screens. Those shots made up a combined 52.0 percent of his offense at Vanderbilt. Terrence Ross, another 6'6" wing, is used similarly by the Orlando Magic.
They're both dangerous shot-makers, capable of going off without needing many dribbles. Nesmith totaled just 13 assists in 500 minutes, and Ross has only averaged 1.1 assists throughout his career, so neither adds much value as an off-the-dribble threat or playmaker.
Nesmith has a chance to be a better version of Ross if he can be more consistent at both ends of the floor.
No. 1 Pick Odds: N/A