Comparisons are not always fair or accurate because it’s impossible to find a perfect match every time. But they help to put things into perspective and understand something better. And of course, comparisons are also fun.
In the next lines, I try to compare the game style of this year’s top 10 draft prospects with present NBA players. Some of them align better than others but none of them is going to be 100% correct. At the end, comparisons are only ways to point out similarities, but also differences. Every player is unique in their own way.
10. Miles Bridges SF/PF: Michigan State – Draymond Green
This might be the more accurate comparison of all. Let’s see. Both are athletic and heavy forwards that can guard multiple positions. They can also shoot threes and put the ball on the floor when needed. And to top it off, they were both Spartans playing under Michigan State.
It will be interesting to see where does Bridges end up being drafted. Some scouts have him climbing the charts drastically. After all, he is a very versatile player that will impact immediately any team’s rotation.
9. Dennis Smith Jr. PG: NC State – Kyle Lowry
Smith is an energetic player that knows how to use his body to get buckets. He can also go back and beat you with his increasing shooting range. These skills remind me very much of Kyle Lowry. They count with very similar moves.
Another player that could be brought into the conversation is Marcus Smart. A tough-minded point guard that sacrifices on every play. I think Smith will end up being a combination of both.
8. Lauri Markkanen PF: Arizona – Kevin Love
A big man that can shoot the three but can also play in the post and grab some boards. Those are the abilities that describe Cleveland’s power forward. These players have very similar skill sets. Markkanen can easily develop into a 20 – 10 player in the league. Many will compare him to Porzingis but I think he’s got more post game and is stronger but less athletic.
Plus, Markkanen is the top big man in this draft. If he can develop his post defense and manage to bother opposing players he’ll become a star in the league.
7. De’Aaron Fox PG: Kentucky – Mike Conley
A do-it-all, lefty point guard? Sounds like the Grizzlies’ number 11 to me! Fox is a tough competitor and he demonstrated it during his face-off against UCLA’s Ball this past March. The 6ft 4 prospect is also a distinctive defensive player.
The only setback on Fox’s grades is his three-point shooting. He only scores on 24.6% of times he shoots behind the line. If he can improve upon this, any team would be happy to have Fox running their offense.
6. Malik Monk PG/SG: Kentucky – Damian Lillard
Monk can play PG but is more suited to be an SG. He is more of a scorer than a distributor. Monk’s shooting is comparable to Lillard’s because when he is hot he can take over games. He is also very athletic and finds other ways to score, not only shooting. This is a skill that Lillard has shown night in and night out effectively.
Monk will have to upgrade his defense and he’ll be good to go. With a growing appreciation for shooters in the league, it won’t be difficult for any team to find a consistent role for Monk.
5. Jonathan Isaac SF: Florida State – Kevin Durant
Isaac is very much like KD coming out of college. Both lengthy and skinny wing players, with a good 3-point shot, that can play either SF or PF but prefer to play out on the perimeter. But that’s it! Isaac has a great scoring ability but it’s a big question mark whether he’ll become Kevin Durant or Jeff Green, in terms of future NBA role. He’s got a lot to prove now.
4. Jayson Tatum SF: Duke – Carmelo Anthony
Tatum is NBA ready. He has a strong body, good size (6ft 8in, 204lbs.) and a natural scoring ability. Tatum reminds me of “Melo” on how he likes to play on the offensive end. When he drives to the basket he powers himself through the defense with a lot of force. Tatum is also used to post against his defender. He can either pull-up for a mid-range jumper or show off his footwork. Very similar to the Knicks’ forward. Plus, his high release shot is hard to block.
Tatum is a good rebounder as well and could play the 4 spot in small ball lineups.
3. Josh Jackson, SF: Kansas – Andrew Wiggins
It’s very hard not to compare these two. Both are young, athletic small forwards from Kansas. It might be a little unfair to compare Jackson with Wiggins this early, but he is a great scorer and an excellent rebounder for his position. He is also a top defender and avid passer. The only problem with Jackson is his shooting. In a league where shooters are more and more demanded it will be tough for Jackson to establish as a star if he doesn’t work in that department.
2. Lonzo Ball, PG: UCLA – Rajon Rondo with shooting
Lonzo’s game style is very different to what we are used to watch. He is long and skilled and has some great moves. What separates his game from the others is his court vision and playmaking ability. That’s why I’m comparing him with Rondo (2010 Rondo), this is something you can’t teach, it’s instinctive.
Apart from assisting, Ball can also score. He is a good finisher around the rim and can drive hard to the basket. The doubt remains on his jumper. He has a somewhat freaky shooting form. Ball has stated that he feels comfortable with it.
It will definitely be a lot of fun to watch Lonzo play with any NBA team… and to spot LaVar on the stands.
1. Markelle Fultz, PG: Washington – Tony Parker
Fultz is a very complete player and has been developing above expectations over the last three years. I find a similarity with Parker on how they drive to the basket and manage to finish over taller defenders. Fultz changes speed and directions with ease, which completely relates with the Spurs’ point guard game style.
As of now, the Celtics have the best chance to land the No.1 pick overall, but they don’t seem to need a point guard. This pick might get traded and the beneficiary will definitely consider drafting Fultz. Will the 18-year-old manage to become a franchise player? Time will tell…