- Kevin Pelton, ESPN Staff Writer
Before future NBA prospects ever set foot on a college campus, they are compared to current stars. Not only do such comparisons give us a better idea of how these rising prospects play currently, they can help shed light on how they will perform at the next level. The challenge is making the comparisons without being influenced by visual cues. That's where my numbers come in.
Similarity scores are at the heart of my SCHOENE projection system, and I've used the same method to compare players in the draft to their professional counterparts based on 13 categories, including height and weight (from the DraftExpress measurement database).
There are a couple of limitations to this approach. First, there's a small pool of draft prospects. In the NBA, SCHOENE picks among thousands of players for comparisons. My college database contains just 438 players dating back to 2003. Second, players are only compared to others within six months of age at the point they enter the draft, so no matter how similar a freshman's game might be to a senior's, they won't come up as a comparison. (I have included some possible outlying matches below as appropriate.)
As a result, some comparisons are better than others. Similarity is rated on a scale that maxes out at 100. A similarity score of 95 or higher is a good match, and anything below 90 is a bit of a stretch. Keep that in mind as I go through the top four comparisons for each player in Chad Ford's top 30.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
There's more star power, including Carmelo Anthony, lower in Wiggins' top 10 comps. However, Wiggins being similar to so many players is in itself an indication he's not a unique prospect. Paul George, the most popular subjective comparison for Wiggins, was slightly too old to qualify for Wiggins' list after his sophomore season but had a score of just 90.0 anyway, in large part because of his superior steal rate.
2. Jabari Parker, Duke
Ammo here for the Parker-Anthony comparisons. The nine players most similar to Parker were all lottery picks, including four that went either first or second.