Chauncey Billups was justifiably roasted for his player comparisons during the 2019 NBA Draft broadcast and had people once again ridiculing the entire notion of making pro comparisons for draft prospects.
The one that got the most attention was his comparison of Rui Hachimura to 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, but there was a point when it really felt like everyone was lucky to have the privilege to add a future hall of famer to their roster because it was nothing but star comparisons.
If you believe Chauncey's player comps, there are 58 Hall of Famers in this draft.— Ben Taylor (@ElGee35) June 21, 2019
Although those type of hyperbolic comparisons do little more than place unrealistic expectations on the players and set fans up for disappointment, more measured comparisons can be useful in helping fans to wrap their heads around what role a rookie might play on the NBA court. The goal is to identify archetypes and potential (most offensive) styles of play, not fate.
And when you’re in the middle of the offseason with summer league as the next opportunity to see your favorite NBA team, player comparisons are just good fun. So as we continue to learn more about guys like Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole, let’s look at a few of the pre-draft player comparisons for each of them — to balance things out, we have a mix of comparisons from statistical models and a few that others dreamed up from their observations.
Eric Paschall’s comps
Height: 6-foot-7.25 | Weight: 254.4 lbs | Wingspan: 6-foot-11.75 | Basketball-Reference stats
The all-star comps for Paschall are flattering: Draymond Green and Paul Millsap (here and here, as examples), the dream developmental endpoint for every undersized forward coming out of college at this point. And, going strictly off physical measurements, the comparison to Millsap actually makes some sense: although Millsap has a wingspan a few inches longer than Paschall’s, they’re about the same height and weight.
The difference is in their rebounding ability — although Millsap and Paschall were about the same size, Millsap was a much better college rebounder, according to Basketball-Reference (links: Millsap vs. Paschall). Draymond Green, for what it’s worth, was also significantly better. Given that a strong college offensive rebounding percentage is generally accepted as a marker of future NBA success, you can point to that as the thing separating Paschall from Green and Millsap if nothing else.
So what are some of the other comparisons? Here’s a fuller look at some of the comparisons floating around the web:
Eric Paschall’s NBA comparisons
|Model 284||Hanno Mottola/Kyle Wiltjer/Matt Bonner|
|ESPN projections||Brian Cook/Adreian Payne|
|Hashtag Basketball||"Homeless" Draymond Green|
|LeBron James||"Baby Millsap"|
|VU Hoops||"Draymond Green without the attitude"|
|NBADraft.net||PJ Tucker/Jason Maxiell|
|The Ringer||Young Paul Millsap, Noah Vonleh, Ryan Gomes|
Given the lopsided rivalry with the Houston Rockets over the last few years, the P.J. Tucker comp is pretty interesting. However, what stands out about those projections based on statistical models — Model 284 & ESPN — is that all their comparables were 6-foot-10-ish forwards with low rebounding percentages who were 3-point shooters in college. On the bright side, that could represent Paschall’s numbers making him look like someone who “plays bigger than his size”. On the other hand, it casts him as mostly a catch-and-shoot 3-point guy, which clearly could work if he can defend at the NBA level.
Tucker was a significantly rebounder at 6-foot-5, but shot four threes total in his three years at Texas. However, given Tucker’s trajectory — it took years overseas before he became the productive rotation player that he is today — maybe that is an interesting comp. But the bottom line is that there might not be a significant NBA contributor who Paschall is comparable to, which could be good or bad.
Jordan Poole’s comps
Height: 6-foot-5.5 | Weight: 190.8 lbs | Wingspan: 6-foot-6.75 | Basketball-Reference stats
So ... to underscore the point that the Warriors surprised everyone by selecting Jordan Poole in the first round, ESPN didn’t even bother to make a projection for him.
Nevertheless, the Nick Young comparison has stuck with Poole thus far; the fact that a) there is indeed swag to his game and b) he has fully leaned into that comparison are a large part of that.
But let’s see how that comp stands up against others from around the web.
Jordan Poole’s NBA comparisons
|Model 284||Malik Beasley/Luke Kennard/Rodney Hood|
|The Ringer||J.R. Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, Mario Hezonja|
|Rashad Phillips||Nick Young|
|Liberty Ballers||D'Angelo Russell, Jamal Murray, Tyler Johnson|
|Nylon Calculus||Landry Shamet|
There’s a lot there, but the Rodney Hood comparison from Model 284 is one that stood out to me — I mean, given Hood’s most recent playoff performance, that would be a pretty nice upside for a guy who nobody thought would be drafted in the first round. But again, it’s worth noting the differences that might overshadow the perceived similarities: in addition to being 6-foot-8, Hood was a much better 3-point shooter in his final year of college ball than Poole was this past season — as was Nick Young — which matters when you’re talking about a wing shooter. Granted, Poole shot about one more three per game than Hood (or Young or Luke Kennard or Wayne Ellington, who were all better college shooters) — which might bode well for him if he’s getting better looks at a lower rate — but the differences are noteworthy nonetheless.
There’s another set of comparables above that lean more toward playmakers instead of pure scorers. The thing is that while a lot of people have noted Poole’s potential as a playmaking combo guard, guys like Spencer Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell, and Tyler Johnson were much more well-rounded playmakers in college. Jamal Murray is a really interesting comparison, but going back to the previous point about offensive rebounding, he was much better on that front. (It’s worth noting the Liberty Ballers’ disclaimer that their comps were based on offensive playing styles not projections, as some others were trying to do.)
That leaves guys like Malik Beasley or Landry Shamet as comparables and they’re both at least interesting. Beasley is just about the same size and has carved out a place for himself in the league after shooting 38.7% from the 3-point line on 4.2 threes per game in his one year of college, Poole shot 36.9% on 5.5 threes per game in his last year at Michigan. Shamet was the most efficient player on this list by far as he shot 44.2% from 3-point range on 5.9 threes per game (not to mention a .655 TS% on a 20.7% usage — that’s impressive efficiency). Brandon Jefferson of Nylon Calculus described how Poole could model himself off Shamet’s offensive role in the NBA and it makes sense when you imagine what he could do on the Warriors:
What Poole could expect in year one, is a role similar to what Landry Shamet has mapped out in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles — playing off the ball and weaving through screens and forcing defenders to keep stock of where he is at all times on the floor.
And that’s probably the main point underlying any of these comps for Poole: a large part of it will be about his ability to shoot well enough to be a threat who keeps defenses off-balance next to a guy like Steph Curry as the team tries to fill the gaping hole left by Klay Thompson’s injury. Of course it would be nice to end up with a guy who’s as efficient as Beasley or Shamet were on midling usage rates this past season, but just being any semblance of a threat when he’s on the court would make him an asset given the state of the current roster.
As Warriors general manage Bob Myers said on draft night, it would be nice if one of the Warriors’ three draft picks ended up being contributors, but there’s really no clear outlook of just how good either guy will be.