The NBA Draft is tomorrow night, and you know what that means: extremely favorable scouting comparisons! Did you know that in addition to being the perfect blend of every great European player to enter the league, apparently Kristaps Porzingis also has a dash of Kevin Durant in the mix? I understand why people do this, but it seems a little disingenuous to compare a rookie to an in-his-prime Dirk Nowitzki.
If you read anything on an individual player before the draft, it’s going to be mostly positive. Even the most scathing reviews on a prospect usually have at least one mention of something they can do at an NBA level or mention their “raw athleticism.” It makes sense to do this when you realize that projecting these players is usually a crapshoot. Writers and scouts don’t want to look bad by saying a prospect won’t make it in the NBA, only for him to light up the league for years to come. If they say good things and the player does poorly, we chalk that up to being the player’s fault for not doing or having what it takes to play at the next level.
Saying nice things about players is one thing, but comparing them to All-Stars and future Hall of Famers before they play a single minute in the NBA is another. I get that it functions as a way to describe a player in a way fans can identify more readily than vague descriptors like “high motor” and “good rebounding instincts.” By comparing prospects to players we’re all familiar watching, fans can imagine what the prospects will look like on the court. Since it can be so helpful, I thought I’d make some comparisons for the incoming rookies of my own.
Frank Kaminsky – Bill Walton: Kaminsky is a four-year collegiate player with good hoops IQ and solid passing. If I told you Kaminsky should be happy turning out like Bill Walton, I’d be lying. Kaminsky has none of the same injury concerns as Walton had and has a solid jumper from deep.
D’Angelo Russell – Oscar Robertson: Good sized combo guard who can score for himself as well as set up his teammates. The Big O would be proud to have his legacy compared to this promising player.
Kristaps Porzingis – Jaqen H’ghar: Porzingis’s ability to wear many faces, looking all at once like Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Andrei Kirilenko and Kevin Durant, is truly impressive. This shows a versatility to switch roles that we haven’t seen since Braavos’ favorite faceless man.
Hopefully this helps you guys know what to expect from these players in the draft. Just don’t be too surprised when they have their own careers that look different from different players who came before them.