NBA Draft 2011: You remind me of ...
One way to get a handle on a player's potential is to compare him to current or former NBA players. So we asked five writers to tell us what they see when looking at this year's draft prospects.
1. Which prospect favorably reminds you of a current NBA player?
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: JaJuan Johnson reminds me of Tyrus Thomas. How many players can protect the rim and defend stretch 4s? That special skill set could give Johnson an immediate role on the right team. With a fine shooting stroke and, hopefully, his head screwed on a little tighter than Thomas', Johnson could fulfill the potential that made Thomas a No. 4 pick.
Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: When I see Jimmy Butler, I can't help but think about Paul George's defense on Derrick Rose in the first round of the playoffs. If Butler does not become a star in this league, he could easily find himself filling the "James Posey" role for the next 10 years.
Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: Jordan Hamilton reminds me a lot of Stephen Jackson, especially on the offensive end. Hamilton has very good inside/outside scoring abilities, and he can shoot and take defenders off the dribble. Hamilton must become more physical on the glass and quicker defensively to compete consistently in the NBA.
Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: Jan Vesely and Andrei Kirilenko. Like Kirilenko, Vesely breaks the Euro stereotype, with length, athleticism and a knack for posterizing opponents to go with it. While Vesely's horrid shooting and solid post game make him less perimeter-oriented than AK-47, he displays the same jack-of-all-trade qualities that made Kirilenko a must-watch box score stuffer in his prime.
Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger: Kawhi Leonard is definitely channeling Gerald Wallace. They're both long-armed, uber-athletic small forwards who can rebound and defend enough to cover 4s on occasion and really thrive in an up-tempo offense.
2. Which prospect favorably reminds you of a former NBA player?
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Jonas Valanciunas reminds me of Alonzo Mourning. Mourning could do a lot more, but Valanciunas' quick hops, tenacious interior play and strong finishes at the rim resemble Mourning. Valanciunas, 19, must fill out before he can play that way in the NBA, but he's already shown the mentality and prowess to do so.
Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: Justin Harper may not have the bulk to be a back-to-the-basket big man, but that doesn't mean he can't be a team's stretch 4 off the bench for years to come. I could see Harper thriving as the next Donyell Marshall. Not a star, but a valued contributor on a playoff team.
Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: I watch Alec Burks and at times I see flashes of Allan Houston. Not as pure of a shooter, but almost like a more new school on-the-ball-type of Houston. If Burks is able to increase his ability to play off the ball offensively, I think he could become the new age Allan Houston in the league.
Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: Chandler Parsons and Toni Kukoc. This is obviously a huge stretch -- Parsons will never be anywhere near the player Kukoc was. But I can see Parsons thriving in the NBA in a similar role -- heady point forward who comes off the bench, runs a little offense, and does a little bit of everything. He'll be a second-round steal.
Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger: There's a little Derek Harper in Darius Morris. Granted, as a Knicks fan, I'm perpetually pining for the next Harper or version 2.0 of any of Pat Riley's mid-'90s stalwarts.
3. Which prospect unfavorably reminds you of a current NBA player?
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Donatas Motiejunas reminds me of Andrea Bargnani. Doesn't defend, doesn't rebound. Bargnani is practically the best-case version of players like that. Except for what he could fetch on the open market, I wouldn't want him on my team.
Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: Does Latavious Williams count as an NBA player? Whenever I hear annoying talk about Jeremy Tyler's potential or measurements, I can't help but think of his predecessor. Both he and Williams were dubbed wunderkinds and both underwhelmed overseas.
Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: I watch Bismack Biyombo and I see a Hasheem Thabeet-type bust coming. Biyombo is obviously not nearly as tall as Thabeet and is much more athletic, but the lack of offensive ability from both players is weirdly alike to me. If Biyombo can be a force defensively, he can cover up his lack of offensive ability, but if not he could be a huge letdown.
Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: Jimmer Fredette and Stephen Curry. The two are often mentioned together due to their college scoring exploits. But while I doubt Jimmer evolves into the offensive savant Curry has become, I can definitely see how Jimmer's slow feet make him an even worse defensive player than the Davidson product -- impossible as that may seem.
Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger: Donatas Motiejunas could step right in for Andrea Bargnani and the Raps wouldn't miss a beat. Two jump shooting bigs who can't/won't rebound and/or defend.
4. Which prospect unfavorably reminds you of a former NBA player?
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Kemba Walker reminds me of Dajuan Wagner. Both are score-first, undersized point guard who didn't score efficiently in college (in their final seasons, 41 percent from the field and 32 percent on 3-pointers for Wagner, and 43 percent from the field and 33 percent on 3-pointers for Walker). Walker passes and rebounds better, but enough to set him apart?
Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: Kyrie Irving. He could be Chris Paul or he could be ... sorry Cavs fans ... Dajuan Wagner? It's hard for me to get past the fact that Irving played in only 11 college games. I could easily see him missing a lot of games over his career because, at this point, it's all we have to go on.
Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: Kyle Singler is the player I'm going to make my second unfavorable comparison to because I simply don't like him as an NBA player. To me, he's a poor man's Danny Ferry, but not even as good of a shooter. Lacks quickness and athleticism that will hurt him badly on both ends of the floor. Singler will have to drastically improve his shooting to be even a decent rotation player in the NBA.
Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: Kemba Walker and Allen Iverson. Iverson is a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. Anyone drafting Kemba would easily settle for that. But Kemba unfavorably reminds me of a much older version of The Answer -- the one who wasn't good enough to be his team's primary option, yet was structurally incapable of filling any other role.
Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger: Derrick Williams brings back serious memories of Glenn Robinson. Like the Big Dog, Williams is going to score, possibly enough to merit All-Star consideration, but not in an efficient enough manner to really help a team win
5. Which prospect-NBA player comparison doesn't work?
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Jimmer Fredette to Steve Nash. Very few players reconstruct their game from college to the pros as much as Nash did. Just because Fredette's style now resembles Nash's when he left Santa Clara doesn't mean Fredette will follow the same path. He's only slightly more likely to end up like Nash than like Dikembe Mutombo.
Brendan Jackson, Celtics Hub: Kenneth Faried as Ben Wallace. I won't deny the rebounding connection, but I don't see Faried turning wrist bands into Ultimate Warrior Bicep Bulgers. Faired will be a great athlete, rebounder and asset to any team who drafts him, but he'll never be as intimidating as Ben Wallace.
Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: Marshon Brooks being compared to Kobe Bryant is simply comical to me. I like Brooks as a player and think he has very impressive inside/outside offensive intangibles, and he also plays much bigger than 6-foot-5. But when I watch Brooks play, I see absolutely nothing that reminds me of Kobe.
Noam Schiller, Hardwood Paroxysm: Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo. Perhaps this is just my pet peeve of automatically pairing up compatriots. But raw as Ibaka was when he entered the league, he came with a semblance of a jump shot; Biyombo should never touch the ball on offense, ever. Similarly, Biyombo is more familiar with team defense, versus 2008 Ibaka's one-on-one specimen routine.
Robert Silverman, Knickerblogger: It's got to be the Jimmer Fredette/[insert Caucasian who can shoot here] comparisons. He's not J.J. Redick or Steve Kerr. Jimmer is a better athlete than he's given credit for and his game/skill set reminds me more of Ben Gordon than the pale-skinned folks he's usually lumped in with.
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