CHICAGO — Player comps are a well-worn way of making sense of the draft. They create easy-to-digest heuristics for teams and fans to understand what and who they are looking at.
This sort of framework goes well beyond online speculation. At last week’s NBA Draft Combine, one of the most frequent questions these players were asked, they said, was about their NBA comparisons.
It can be an insightful question. It reveals how the players think of themselves and their game, how realistic they may or may not be, and also who they believe NBA teams value at this moment in time.
Last week The Athletic asked a good number of draft prospects about the NBA comp they use for themselves when they pitch teams on themselves during the interview process. Their answers are below.
Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis
Comp: Devin Booker
Why: “I like the way he scores the ball. He’s a three-level scorer.”
Kentucky guard TyTy Washington
Why: Russell for his pace and feel for the game; Maxey because he keeps his game simple; Murray because he plays off pick-and-rolls.
Milwaukee forward Patrick Baldwin Jr.
Comp: Michael Porter Jr.
Why: “You never want to put a limit on yourself, first and foremost. But there are some guys that you watch film, and you pull from. I know a popular name surrounding me is Michael Porter. So that’s a popular name around circles. I think that’s a good start. But you always want to build the roof off that and continue to progress and improve each year.”
G League Ignite point guard Dyson Daniels
Why: “It’s a tough one for me because I have such a unique game.” Daniels said hopes to develop into a Luka Dončićrole-type.
Nebraska guard Bryce McGowens
Comp: Zach LaVine and Devin Booker
Why: “Their ability to get to their spots and score at all three levels. Use their athleticism. They’re just talented players.”
Ohio State wing Malaki Branham
Why: Branham cites that they have the same build and says he is a three-level scorer, like they are.
LSU forward Tari Eason
Baylor forward Kendall Brown
Comp: The Scottie Barnes point-forward mold
Why: “Any point forward in the league. Two players. Players like Scottie Barnes and Kawhi Leonard. I can be one of the best two-way players so that’s what I see myself as.”
Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley
Comp: Jordan Poole
Why: “The way he comes in and does his role.”
G League Ignite wing MarJon Beauchamp
Ohio State forward EJ Liddell
Why: Guys like PJ Tucker, Grant Williams, Paul Millsap, Draymond. I’d take pieces from their game, offensively and defensively. Like Draymond being able to pass and the heart that all of those guys bring on the defensive end.”
North Carolina State guard Terquavion Smith
Comp: Tyrese Maxey and Jordan Poole
Why: “They fast and they shoot the 3-ball well.”
Toledo guard Ryan Rollins
Comp: CJ McCollumDevin Booker, Jordan Poole
Why: “Combo guards that can create for themselves and others.”
Kansas guard Christian Braun
Why: “The personality that Dillon Brooks brings to the Grizzlies. I would say that some of that is a good comp from me. He’s a 3-and-D guy willing to guard multiple positions. He’s just a guy with a lot of energy, a lot of passion and toughness. He’s got a chip on his shoulder that I think I bring to a team. So that’s someone that I would compare myself to and I think that he does a lot of things similar to me.”
Auburn center Walker Kessler
Why: “I cover pick-and-roll better. I move my feet quicker.”
Memphis forward Josh Minott
Comp: A mix between Mikal Bridges and Derrick Jones Jr.
Why: “Both exceptional defense; one more athletic than the other. But like Mikal Bridges style of play in terms of just knowing the right reads, creating transition and knock down the open 3 and, then not a liability on many switches. Something like that, and I feel like I’m pretty versatile defensively. And weakside, just help defense and in transition-wise, like a Derrick Jones Jr. He might definitively have more athleticism than me. But I say somewhere up there, you know.”
Arkansas center Jaylin Williams
Why: “I use a mix of players. Al Horford, I feel like is a big guy that I resemble a lot. I like to say Draymond for his leadership, his defense. I’d like to say Bam, the way he can run the offense. He can run the offense from the top. I like to say Jokić just because he can pass the ball; he can do things like that.”
Fort Erie Prep forward Leonard Miller
Comp: Kevin Durant
Why: “Mostly someone like Kevin Durant. Because he does things on the court that I feel like I could do. I’m striving to be better and better every day and perfect them. You know, I can prove a lot in those areas and sharpen them.”
UCLA wing Peyton Watson
Comp: Mikal Bridges
Why: “One player I have kind of done a lot of film study on and a player I feel like I can be like is a Mikal Bridges type of defender. Most definitely I feel like I can fill that role for an NBA team, and I’m just focused on maximizing my talent and being the best player I really can be. A lot of people kind of say I’m one of the bigger mysteries in this year’s draft, but I can’t wait to just get out there start playing and show what I can do on both ends of the floor.”
Overtime Elite forward Dom Barlow
Comp: Pascal Siakam
Why: “We have similar bodies. I think I have a high motor too, kind of like him. I tried to impact the game in different ways. And we kind of moved the same, like body type wise and kind of move very similar. So definitely excited to pick his brain.”
Florida State forward John Butler Jr.
Why: “I really love how those players have made an impact early on and just found a role.”
G League Ignite forward Michael Foster Jr.
Comp: Bobby PortisPJ Tucker
Why: “The niche I like to pick out is like a Bobby Portis, PJ Tucker roles. Stuff like that — just a 3-and-D guy. Because I understand the rookie rolls. They don’t need me to go out and score. They need me to be aggressive, attack the rebounds offensively and defensively. Just bring the energy and be a presence.”
Wake Forest guard Alondes Williams
Why: “I’m a pass-first type of guard and I’m a bigger guard… I like to pass the ball first and score at will whenever I want to. That’s what he always did so I looked at that.”
Rutgers wing Ron Harper Jr.
Comp: PJ Tucker
Why: “I use PJ Tucker. Specifically him because he just impacts winning in such a drastic way. Every time somebody talks about PJ Tucker it’s ‘Oh, that guy’s a winner. He contributes to winning.’ And I kind of want people to say the same thing about me. People will say that I’m a winner. I contribute to winning. I fit in any role. Any role you need me to play I’m gonna go out there and do it. I just want to win.”
Gonzaga point guard Andrew Nembhard
Comp: Tyus Jones
Why: “I think that’s someone I can emulate early in my career off the bench as a secondary point guard. He just wins games. Has a high assist-to-turnover system. He’s solid.”
Seton Hall wing Jared Rhoden
Comp: Mikal Bridges
Why: “(He) could just utilize his versatility both on the defensive end and on the offensive end. Just using his length. I’m someone who uses my length and my angles just to affect the game, whether it’s defensively getting after smaller guards or being able to switch on in the modern-day NBA, guarding four-men, guarding bigger threes. Offensively, keeping the game simple. Whether it’s just laying the ball up either quick offensive rebounds, putbacks, catches, shoot 3s, playing off close outs and just, you know, keeping the game real simple like Mikal Bridges does.”
Louisiana Tech forward Kenneth Lofton Jr.
Comp: Nikola Jokić
Why: “Although I say I’m a different person, because some people have one or two things that are limited, and I feel like I have a whole book of things that I can pull out and show NBA teams… We have a similar game. Can shoot, can dribble, can post up, pretty much do everything that I do. I feel like I have a little bit more bounce than Jokić, but you know, I feel like we play similar.”
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(Photo of MarJon Beauchamp, Jaden Hardy and Dyson Daniels: Emilee Chinn/NBAE via Getty Images)