The NBA Draft is always fun, but it wouldn't be nearly as fun without the player comps. It's one thing to watch a player's video and hear about his skill set, but it takes things to another level when someone says you're watching "the next Kobe Bryant." It's a difficult exercise because you never want to oversell the prospect, but you also don't want to put a limit on their career if they possess the skills and work ethic to truly become one of the all-time greats.
In an effort not to get too carried away, I've offered three player comparisons for each of my top 10 players in the 2021 draft: the ambitious everything-that-can-go-right-goes-right ceiling, the worst-case scenario floor, and the more likely sweet spot. As always, no comparison is perfect, so I'll ask you to use your imagination and leniency when evaluating the suggestions below.
Enjoy, and feel free to hit me up on Twitter @ColinCBSSports if you have some comps of your own and want to join in on the fun.
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Ceiling: Luka Doncic
A lot has been made about the differences between Cunningham and Doncic, but even Cunningham himself admitted that he sees the similarities. They're nearly identical in size and their offensive skill sets are incredibly similar -- which I extensively researched for this piece and you can also see in the video below:
Doncic obviously had much more success in terms of winning prior to his NBA debut, but Cunningham also made clutch shots at Oklahoma State while surrounded by an offense that was in the 19th percentile in Division I basketball in spot-up shooting, according to Synergy. If Cunningham hits his absolute ceiling, he could be a Doncic-level one-man offense and perennial MVP candidate.
Floor: Nicolas Batum
If Cunningham's playmaking doesn't quite translate and his shooting isn't quite as good as the 40 percent he knocked down at Oklahoma State on nearly six attempts per game, he could have a career like Batum's -- an extremely useful point-forward with passing skills and a high basketball IQ who's a borderline All-Star at times, but never quite reaches the next level of stardom.
Sweet spot: Early Grant Hill
Cunningham's playmaking might not ever make it to Doncic levels, so a more reasonable comp might be early Grant Hill, who averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists over his first six NBA seasons before injuries ravaged his career. Cunningham probably isn't as athletic, and he'll obviously shoot a lot more 3-pointers because of the era he plays in, but the skill set and impact on the game could be similar to Hill, who started his career as one of the league's brightest young stars.
Ceiling: Anthony Davis
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Every skinny, mobile big man who can shoot a little bit seems to be compared to Davis, but with Mobley the comparisons are apt -- that is, if he fully develops his burgeoning skill set. Mobley can be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate while providing incredible versatility offensively with ball-handling and shooting for his size. When people talk about Mobley as the best player in the class, they probably see a Davis-like future for him.
Floor: Taller Larry Nance Jr.
There's a world in which Mobley's skills never fully develop, and he ends up as a mobile, athletic big who's a good rebounder, capable of playmaking and ball-handling, but not quite strong enough to be a force in the middle. Obviously Mobley is quite a bit taller than Nance, but he could end up playing more on the perimeter given his slight frame, as a decent 3-point shooter who never truly becomes a deep threat.
Sweet spot: Bam Adebayo
A versatile, switchable big who can finish inside as well as he can facilitate offense, Adebayo seems like the right kind of projection for Mobley. If he never becomes a true threat from 3-point range and his shot-blocking doesn't reach Anthony Davis levels, Mobley could settle into a career as an All-Star who's more of a 1B than a 1A in terms of being the guy on a championship contender.
Ceiling: Clyde Drexler
Drexler is a little bit taller, but Green possesses similar freakish athleticism, quickness and three-level scoring ability. If Green continues to add weight and improve his ball-handling and playmaking skills (which he's done consistently in his career thus far), he could approximate Clyde the Glide's rebounding and assist numbers as well. It's going to take a lot of growth, but Green's upside is that of an All-NBA scoring guard and eventual Hall of Famer.
Floor: Jordan Clarkson
At the very least, Green will be a super-athletic bucket-getter who turns into a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate. This will be his destiny if his playmaking skills never quite develop, and his shooting is streakier than expected. Clarkson plays a crucial role on one of the league's best teams, so there are a lot worse fates.
Sweet spot: Zach LaVine
A relentless, prolific scoring two-guard who can occasionally fill in as your primary playmaker seems like about where Green will end up. His elite athleticism is on par with LaVine's, and he could have a similar trajectory in terms of improving his efficiency and gaining accolades as his career goes along.
Ceiling: Gary Payton
Suggs has the potential to be a dominant defensive guard like "The Glove," and his ability to push in transition is reminiscent of prime Payton with the SuperSonics. Suggs' 3-point shooting might never become elite, but Payton proved you can still have a Hall of Fame career and average over 20 points per game even without consistently knocking down 3s.
Floor: Derrick White
It's hard to imagine Suggs having a worse career path than White, who is still developing but has established himself as a starting-caliber combo guard. Both are potential lockdown defenders who can score and distribute offensively.
Sweet spot: Malcolm Brogdon
A big guard who takes care of the ball, gets after it defensively and develops into a solid 3-point shooter seems like a reasonable expectation for Suggs, who could be slightly better in transition than Brogdon. Overall, that kind of impact on both sides of the ball would probably lead him into the All-Star/borderline All-Star range, which seems realistic.
Ceiling: Draymond Green
This comp has been thrown out there since mock draft season started, but Green would be the absolute pinnacle for Barnes to evolve into. An elite defender who can theoretically guard one through five, Barnes will need to prove that he's capable of playing small-ball center on both sides of the floor. Shooting is going to be an issue, but it has been for Green throughout his career. The question is whether Barnes' playmaking can ever reach Green's level to compensate for the lack of consistent production from 3-point range.
Floor: James Johnson
If Barnes' defense isn't quite at All-NBA levels and his playmaking isn't even close to Draymond's, he could eventually wind up as a player like Johnson -- someone who can guard multiple positions, handle the ball and bring energy, but drifts in and out of the rotation based on matchups.
Sweet spot: OG Anunoby
It's somewhat ironic that the Raptors are reportedly interested in Barnes, since he could end up a lot like Anunoby -- but probably with less 3-point prowess and more playmaking ability. The commonality is the ability to absolutely lock down defensively and fit into essentially any lineup configuration.
Ceiling: DeMar DeRozan
A superior athlete with an NBA body and plenty of room to grow, the hope for whoever drafts Kuminga is that he eventually develops his jumper to the point of consistency, much like DeRozan has done over the course of his career. Kuminga may never be a prominent 3-point shooter, but DeRozan has proven that you can still be an All-Star without that skill, as long as you can hit your mid-range jumpers and get to the rim. DeRozan also serves as a nice blueprint for Kuminga's potential development as a playmaker.
Floor: Jeff Green
Green made a solid career for himself, but never quite lived up to the potential he showed as the No. 5 pick in 2007. If Kuminga's skills don't develop, he could travel a similar path as a good rotation player who can't quite rise to much more.
Sweet spot: Rudy Gay
There's a chance that Kuminga will develop into a consistent 20-point-per-game scorer, much like Gay early in his career, but the efficiency and contributions to winning might be lacking. In order for Kuminga to get to Gay's level, he'll need to refine his mid-range game and improve on his free throw percentage, since he drew fouls at a solid rate in the G League.
Ceiling: Jamal Murray
Aesthetically, Bouknight's game is very similar to Murray's in terms of his ability to create space with hesitations and step-backs. The UConn product is a little taller than Murray, but has similar explosion around the rim, which leads to powerful and creative finishes. The question is whether Bouknight can develop into the off-the-dribble 3-point shooter and playmaker that Murray has become, but the foundation appears to be there.
Floor: Malik Monk
Monk is far from done developing, but so far he's been an incredibly inconsistent bucket-getter who induces equal sentiments of awe and frustration. That could eventually be the description for Bouknight given his potential for low efficiency and average playmaking ability.
Sweet spot: Terrence Ross
Ross has developed into one of the league's premier bench scorers, which could be close to Bouknight's destiny. His athleticism and shot creation will allow him to thrive in almost any system, but there could be a few too many nights when he struggles with efficiency and defense to make him a full-time starter.
Ceiling: Khris Middleton
Middleton came into the league as a prospect that supposedly lacked upside, and he developed into an All-Star and the second-best player on a championship team. That's in the cards for Moody, who's received similar criticism about a low ceiling, if everything aligns. His shooting, defense and playmaking potential are enough to get you excited about his future.
Floor: Reggie Bullock
There's a chance that Moody's ball-handling and shot creation don't translate to the NBA, and he's designated to more of a spot-up role, like Bullock. In that case he'd be a knock-down shooter and a solid defender who could have a long career as a low-end starter or coming off the bench.
Sweet spot: Mikal Bridges
At 6-6 with freakishly long arms, Moody and Bridges share a similar profile as 3-and-D-plus modern wings. Bridges' 3-point shooting has improved each year to the point where he had 54/43/84 splits last season. Moody could grow into that as well, particularly if he's drafted by a team that doesn't need him to carry a huge offensive load to start his career.
Ceiling: Reggie Theus
The Pete Maravich comp is just begging to be thrown out there, but Giddey is just nowhere near that type of scorer. Theus might predate some of you out there, but he was a 6-7 guard who averaged 18.5 points and 6.3 assists for his career, earning two All-Star selections. Like Giddey, he wasn't a superior athlete and was never a pure shooter, but he made some truly spectacular passes and is currently 29th on the NBA career assists list.
Theus was also the star of an awesome 90s Saturday morning network show called "Hang Time," and Giddey someday piloting the Australian version of that program would be spectacular -- he already appears unflappable on camera.
Sure, Giddey's scoring might never reach Theus' level, but that's why we call it a ceiling.
Floor: Evan Turner
A point-forward whose ceiling was limited due to his inability to develop a consistent jumper, Turner could be a decent comp for Giddey if his shooting doesn't come along. Just like Turner, Giddey's playmaking and transition passing will keep him in the league for a long time, but the upside isn't as high if he can't make shots.
Sweet spot: LaMelo Ball
Technically, Giddey is a forward, but in his realized form he'd essentially be the point guard, running the show with dazzling passes in both transition and the halfcourt, just like Ball. The questions facing Giddey are the same that face Ball -- defense and 3-point shooting -- but both have the chance to be truly special players.
Ceiling: DeMarcus Cousins
Sengun absolutely dominated the Turkish Super League as an 18-year-old largely due to his wide array of post moves and aggression in the paint. In order to reach his ceiling, which some draft evaluators think he can, he'll need to continue to develop his playmaking skills like Cousins did before a rash of injuries changed the course of his career. Though he wasn't an explosive athlete even before the injuries, Cousins was an absolutely dominant interior scorer and rebounder, and Sengun shares that skill set. The game-changers will be if he improves his passing and if he can eventually stretch to the 3-point line.
Floor: Willy Hernangomez
Hernangomez has proven to be a legitimate post scorer in his five-year NBA career, but his lack of shooting, playmaking and defensive versatility make it hard for him to stay on the court consistently. If he doesn't develop those skills, Sengun could be headed down the same road as a per 36-minute stat monster who struggles to find meaningful minutes.
Sweet spot: Jonas Valanciunas
Even in an NBA where post-ups are largely considered inefficient, Valanciunas has found a place for bully ball and put together a productive career. Sengun can be equally as devastating in the post and on the offensive boards if he continues to develop his body and skills, which should make him an effective big man for years to come even if he never quite becomes the passer and shooter his profile suggests he might.