Comparing prospective NBA players to current or former NBA players is a fool's errand. It's an imperfect exercise that enrages the masses, irks those subject to comparison and opens the comparer up to criticism.
So hey, let's do it!
It's not totally inefficient, after all. Sure, by nature it is imperfect. But it can help you visualize the prospect and how his game may fare at the NBA level before he gets there.
Below we've done exactly that with every lottery prospect on our Big Board and called out specifically why we made the comparisons.
1. LaMelo Ball | 6-7, 180 | PG
Comparison: Trae Young
The fortitude to launch shots from anywhere on the court strikes me as one of the biggest resemblances between Young and his soon-to-be colleague, but it's the passing here that really drives this comparison home. Young's range and swagger at Oklahoma was only second to his vision; he led the country as a freshman in assist rate while averaging 27.4 points per game. That aspect of Ball's game -- the ability to read the floor, react quickly and deliver daggers on time and on target -- is his best selling point.
2. Killian Hayes | 6-5, 192 | PG
Comparison: Goran Dragić
Dragić isn't the most athletic lead guard to find NBA success -- a trait (in addition to both being lefties) Hayes has in common with him -- but he's been able to carve out a long professional career because of his craftiness, IQ, passing and shooting range. That should go ditto for Hayes who, while not the most explosive prospect, plays with a controlled pace and really knows how to work angles to his advantage by creating passing lanes and slicing out space to get his own shot.
3. Onyeka Okongwu | 6-9, 245 | C
Comparison: Bam Adebayo
The skill and feel of Adebayo is pretty difficult to match, but Okongwu's close in both categories and makes up part of the gap with a similar frame. (Both are 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and both are roughly 250 pounds). Where this comp drifts, however, is multi-faceted in a slight tilt of favor towards Adebayo: he's more athletic and explosive, and at this stage he's a more skilled passer. Okongwu's timing on blocks and his creative post scoring at just 19 years old makes this an interesting discussion to be had, and a huge reason why he's long been the top-rated big man on our board for this class.
4. Deni Avdija | 6-9, 215 | SF
Comparison: Bojan Bogdanović
This may be as much a wishful comparison as it is a physical comparison. Both Bogdanović and Avdija are listed at almost exactly the same height and weight, and both have impressive ball skills for their respective positions. But Bogdanović -- a career 39.4% 3-point shooter -- holds the edge here in the most important area. And that's where Avdija needs to improve after hitting just 33.6% of his attempts from 3-point range last season. It's the only real question mark keeping him from being a lock for the top five in this draft.
5. Anthony Edwards | 6-5, 225 | SF
Comparison: Zach LaVine
The list of big-framed guards who can create their own shot the way Anthony Edwards can is a short one. But I'm picking LaVine here for two reasons. The first: they're both explosive athletes. Jump-out-the-gym type hops. The second: they're both prolific scorers -- but not necessarily efficient. The concern with Edwards, like LaVine, is that he could put up big numbers but they'd be empty calories on a bad team. The pushback -- which I think is valid -- is that Edwards is still just 18 years old and his game is still moldable.
6. Obi Toppin | 6-9, 220 | PF
Comparison: Blake Griffin
The "Lob City" days with the Clippers were essentially what Dayton ran last season with Toppin. He's a gifted athlete who last season led college basketball in dunks and in 2-point percentage, hitting 69.8%. While he's not quite the playmaker Griffin is, Toppin has shown he's more than a dunker, too. Hitting 41.7% of his 3s in two seasons with the Flyers should bode well for his ability to be a floor-spacing big at the next level.
7. Isaac Okoro | 6-6, 225 | SF
Comparison: Justin Anderson
Okoro has a chance to be what people thought Anderson could be: a big-bodied wing who can switch defensively, moves well laterally and operates as a role player who impacts the game at every level. The big question with Okoro, as with Anderson coming out of college, is the outside shot. (Anderson has hit just 30% of his 3s in the NBA and Okoro hit 28.6% of his 3s at Auburn.) The appeal with Okoro really drops if you're drafting a 3-and-D type wing without the 3.
8. James Wiseman | 7-1, 240 | C
Comparison: Chris Bosh
The best player comparisons you'll get is when you ask them themselves who they play like. That's what The Undefeated did last spring, and this was Wiseman's illuminating answer:
Some people say Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett and even David Robinson. But really, I'm my own person. I want to create my own path. I want to be the next James Wiseman so people look up to me one day. But I've patterned my game compared to those three players, so I just say it. And I really have been just getting a lot of film from 'The Greek Freak,' Giannis [Antetokounmpo], so I've been studying his game too. I really have been just trying to soak up as much information as I can.
Casually dropping three legends as a comp -- I see ya! He definitely doesn't in lack in confidence.
Bosh and Wiseman share the fact that they're both left-handed, and Wiseman and Robinson share the same broad shoulders. As for Garnett and Wiseman ... I just don't quite see it. But if Wiseman adopts the same toughness KG played with, he may become one of this draft's most productive players.
9. Tyrese Haliburton | 6-5, 175 | PG
Comparison: Lonzo Ball
In Haliburton, one team is going to get a Ball clone. A rangy guard with a high IQ, good passing skills, and a shot that -- while accurate -- will likely need to be tweaked as he makes his name in the NBA. Haliburton's release is in front of his face; Lonzo's previous release was from Pluto but has since entered the same atmosphere as other NBA players. Nonetheless, he's an analytics darling who has good vision, makes smart decisions and can knock down 3s at an efficient clip.
10. Aaron Nesmith | 6-6, 213 | SF
Comparison: Buddy Hield
The name of Buddy Buckets' game is, well, in the name. He was a prolific scorer and knockdown shooter at Oklahoma and he's been the same in the NBA, hitting 41.1% of his 3s since he entered the league in 2016. Nesmith's game is cut from a similar cloth. He's not quite as dynamic a creator as Hield, but he's an equally lethal shooter, last season making 52.2% (!) of his 3-pointers in 14 games. Plainly put: he's the best shooter in this year's draft, just like Hield was the best shooter coming out of the 2016 draft.
11. Theo Maledon | 6-4, 174 | PG
Comparison: Delon Wright
Teams will love Maledon's size and versatility, which will open him up to potentially play either guard spot as he improves as an outside shooter. He's not flashy or explosive (and neither is Wright), but he's at worst a reliable rotation guard that can create by playing downhill and attacking off the bounce.
12. Devin Vassell | 6-7, 194 | SF
Comparison: Robert Covington
We know NBA teams value 3-and-D wings -- players like Covington who can knock down 3s and defend at a high level -- and so that's the thinking here behind the Vassell-RoCo comp. Vassell's not quite as beefed up, but he's as NBA-ready as any 3-and-D wing in this class. He's coming off a star turn at Florida State as a sophomore where he averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 steals per game while knocking down 41.5% of his 3-point attempts.
13. Josh Green | 6-6, 210 | SG
Comparison: Hamidou Diallo
I turned to a computer-generated comparison website for this one to guide me. Using per-40 stats, this NBA Draft Comparison Tool led me to a match with the former Kentucky standout Diallo. And I dig: Diallo and Green are freaky leapers. Green should be able to establish himself as a fine 3-and-D type guard after last season hitting 36.1% of his 3s as a third option on Arizona's NBA talent-rich roster.
14. Cole Anthony | 6-3, 190 | PG
Comparison: Austin Rivers
You know that feeling when you read ahead in a book -- either intentionally or by accident -- then toggle back but still can't shake out of your head what you know is coming? Like you know the result, so why try and draw conclusions by going backward? That's how I feel about this Rivers comp, which the great crew at The Ringer made and which I can't erase from my brain. Anthony and Rivers are both prolific scorers who can make shots in myriad ways and also handle the ball a bit as well. I think Anthony has a higher ceiling because of his shot-making and creation, but his floor in the NBA may be as a microwave bench scorer whose value lies as a shot-maker.