The 2015-16 college basketball season is coming to a close over the next few days, and it has been an action packed exhilarating season so far. Throughout this season there have been a select few that have proven they are ready to make an impact at the NBA level. There has been a lot of parity in college basketball this year, but the stars shine bright, and a few have shined even brighter during the current NCAA tournament. During the NCAA tournament, Buddy Hield has carried Oklahoma to the final four, and in the process improved his draft stock. Other top prospects such as Denzel Valentine and Jaylen Brown had lackluster performances in the tournament, and could not lift their teams out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. The 2016 NBA draft is set to have some great prospects this year.
When examining prospects it is always essential to articulate what the player’s strengths and weaknesses are, and which teams have a real need for a player who possesses these talents. It is also fun to debate which current or former NBA players these prospects most resemble. Comparing these prospects to NBA players gives fans a good idea of what the prospects bring to the table, and these comparisons are a good way to analyze a prospect that has not been seen much by some fans. We are going to assess what some of the top prospects in college basketball accomplished, and then compare the way they play to current NBA players. Some of these players may even become better than the NBA player that they most resemble. There are also busts in every draft, and none of these prospects want to find themselves included on the long list of players who under exceeded in the pros. Here are some of the best 2016 college prospects, and who they resemble most in the NBA.
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15 Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma - James Harden
Which NBA player does Buddy Hield most resemble? James Harden seems to be the best choice when comparing Buddy Hield to current NBA players. Harden can score in bunches, and Hield can also take over games if his team needs him too. The shooting between these two are very consistent, and some could make the case that Buddy could potentially be a better shooter than Harden. Harden and Hield both have the strengths of being able to shoot and slash to the hole. Their weaknesses are also very much the same. Buddy Hield has never been a great ball handler, and that is an aspect of his game that can surely be improved upon at the next level.
14 Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State - Tyreke Evans
Which NBA player does Denzel Valentine most resemble? Tyreke Evans can do a little bit of everything for his team, which is why Denzel Valentine is an ideal resemblance to him. Evans may not be a great NBA player, but lets not forget that he won the NBA rookie of the year award. Valentine can fill up the stat sheet, and he proved this while averaging 19 points, seven rebounds, and close to eight assists per game this season. Valentine can also shoot the three very well, and perhaps even a little bit better than Tyreke Evans.
Valentine hit 45% of his shots from three this past season. The lottery may not be Denzel Valentine's landing spot among this year's draft class, but he should be able to make a solid contribution to whichever team drafts him.
13 Tyler Ulis, Point Guard, Kentucky - Isaiah Thomas
Which NBA player does Tyler Ulis most resemble? Isaiah Thomas is also a very undersized guard, who has thrived in the NBA. He can score when his team needs him too, but can also distribute the ball amongst his teammates creating scoring chances for them. Tyler Ulis perfectly resembles Isaiah Thomas. Ulis is more than capable of scoring the basketball, and averaged seventeen points per game for the Wildcats this season. The outside jump shot is a shot Ulis is more than capable of knocking down.
Seven assists per game prove that much like Thomas, Ulis can deliver the basketball to his teammates when they are in position to score. If Tyler Ulis puts in the work like Isaiah Thomas has over the years, he has a bright future ahead of him.
12 Kris Dunn, PG, Providence - Russell Westbrook
Which NBA player does Kris Dunn most resemble? Russell Westbrook is an elite NBA player, and he plays the game at full speed, with the ability to take over the game at any given moment. Kris Dunn is very similar in this manor, and for the Providence Friars, took over games when his team was struggling. Russell Westbrook is no stranger to filling up the stat sheet. He is a triple double machine, and is capable of getting a triple double each and every game. Kris Dunn also can fill the stat sheet, and once he gets his feet wet in the NBA he may be able to become a stat sheet stuffer like Westbrook has become. Kris Dunn averaged sixteen points, five rebounds, and six assists per game.
11 Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky - Randy Foye
Which NBA player does Jamal Murray most resemble? Randy Foye may not be the flashiest player, but he has had a long NBA career. Foye has a decent jump shot, and can play the point guard position if needed. The biggest reason Jamal Murray resembles Randy Foye is because of both players ball handling skills. Jamal Murray does not have the handles to be a true point guard like a Damien Lillard or Stephen Curry has.
Randy Foye has not proven to be an elite scorer in the NBA, but he was a great scorer while playing for the Villanova Wildcats. Jamal Murray is capable of exceeding Randy Foye’s NBA production, but only time will tell. Murray averaged 20 points and five rebounds per game in his lone season at Kentucky.
10 Jaylen Brown, SG, California - Jimmy Butler
Which NBA player does Jaylen Brown most resemble? Many people forget that Jimmy Butler was not expected to be an elite NBA player coming out of Marquette. Butler was very raw, and he seemed like a player that had the potential to be a role player on a team for years to come. Jaylen Brown is also a bit raw coming into the league. He has always had the upper hand physically on his competition, but that will not be the case once he gets to the NBA. Jimmy Butler also did not have a consistent jump shot coming into the league. Jaylen’s biggest weakness is his shooting.
Shooting has been something that can be improved dramatically in a short period of time, and there is no denying Brown’s ability to score the basketball. Jaylen Brown averaged close to 15 points per game for the Golden Bears.
9 Perry Ellis, PF, Kansas - Jared Sullinger
Which NBA player does Perry Ellis most resemble? Jared Sullinger is broader than Perry Ellis in build, but plays the game in a very similar fashion. College success was achieved by both players coming into the NBA. Sullinger has not been a super star in the NBA, but he has been a good contributor for a Boston Celtics team that is beginning to blossom. Perry Ellis's forte is his ability to score the ball in a variety of ways.
Much like Sullinger, Ellis can knock down mid range jumpers, and also can post up in the paint and hit threes when needed too. Perry Ellis averaged 17 points and six rebounds a game in his senior year at Kansas.
8 Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina - Blake Griffin
Which NBA player does Brice Johnson most resemble? Blake Griffin coming out of college was an athletic freak much like Brice Johnson. Blake Griffin has made many improvements to his game while in the NBA, and Brice Johnson will have to make similar improvements to attain the success Griffin has in the NBA. The one attribute that Johnson and Griffin both had coming out of college was the ability to ferociously rebound.
With the ability to grab offensive and defensive rebounds constantly, Brice Johnson has had many easy opportunities to score from close range. Griffin and Johnson also both get their fair share of monstrous dunks throughout games. Brice Johnson averaged seventeen points and ten rebounds in his senior year at North Carolina.
7 Yogi Ferrell, PG, Indiana - Kyle Lowry
Which NBA player does Yogi Ferrell most resemble? Obviously Kyle Lowry and Yogi Ferrell have very different builds, but play the game in a very similar manor. Both have the ability to facilitate an offense and also carry a big amount of the scoring load for their teams at any given moment. They can both shoot the three at a great rate, and slash to the hole quickly. This may be harder for Yogi to do in the NBA considering he is only six feet tall. Lowry has the benefit of being a prototypical sized point guard, and this helps him get to the hole and be able to score on big men down low. Yogi Ferrell in his senior season at Indiana averaged seventeen points, four rebounds, and nearly six assists a game.
6 Taurean Prince, SF, Baylor - DeMarre Carroll
Which NBA player does Taurean Prince most resemble? DeMarre Carroll seems to always be hustling and doing anything his team needs him to do to help his team win. Tauren Prince is a good three point shooter. DeMarre Carroll became a good three point shooter, but was not known for shooting threes coming out of college. Both have great length and can defend opposing players well. Taureen Prince gave a hilarious answer during his final press conference about rebounding the basketball, and he was outstanding at rebounding while at Baylor. Taureen Prince averaged sixteen points and six rebounds per game in his senior season at Baylor.
5 Gary Payton II, PG, Oregon State - Dwyane Wade
Which NBA player does Gary Payton II most resemble? Dwyane Wade was much more highly touted coming out of college, but these two definitely play the game in a similar fashion. They both attack the rim with tenacity, and no one wants to end up on a poster after either of these two have driven into the lane. Gary Payton II does not have the greatest jump shot coming out of college. He does play defense with the same intensity that his father played defense, and can block shots at an incredible rate for someone with his stature. Gary Payton II averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game in his final season for the Beavers.
4 Melo Trimble, PG, Maryland - Jarrett Jack
Which NBA player does Melo Trimble most resemble? Melo Trimble is not the most athletically gifted guard, but he does run the pick and roll very nicely. Jarrett Jack has an extremely comparable game to Melo's, and they are also both above average at knocking down the mid range jumper. Melo Would be extremely lucky to endure a career in the NBA that lasts as long as Jacks career has lasted. Melo is projected to go in the second round of this year’s draft, so it will be interesting to see whether or not he declares for the draft. Melo Trimble averaged 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds per game in his sophomore season at Maryland.
3 Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas - Kentavious Caldwell Pope
Which NBA player does Wayne Selden most resemble? Kentavious Caldwell Pope seems to be a fair comparison considering they both have a lot of size at the two guard position. They also both do a lot of things good, but do not really do anything that is great. Caldwell Pope was drafted in the lottery. He has underachieved in the NBA, but still plays a role in a much better Detroit Pistons team of late.
Wayne Selden could bully small shooting guards in college, but he will not most likely be capable of doing that in the NBA. Selden and Caldwell Pope both do not have kick first steps, can shoot the three with some consistency, and are extremely athletically gifted. Wayne Selden averaged fourteen points a game and shot thirty nine percent from three in the 2015-16 college basketball season.
2 Brandon Ingram, SG, Duke - Kevin Durant
Which NBA player does Brandon Ingram most resemble? This should not come as a surprise at all that Brandon Ingram resembles Kevin Durant. Durant also was extremely slender coming out of college, and many wondered if he could handle the toughness that would be presented to him in the NBA. Kevin Durant is one of the most elite players in the NBA, and Brandon Ingram sure hopes he can become 75% of the player Kevin Durant has become. Brandon Ingram did shoot over forty percent from three in college resembling Kevin Durant’s strength coming out of Texas. Brandon Ingram averaged 17 points and seven rebounds per game in the 2015-16-college basketball season.
1 Ben Simmons, SF, LSU Tigers - LeBron James
Which NBA player does Ben Simmons most resemble? LeBron James is still often accused of being too passive, the same ways Simmons has been in college. LeBron came into the league as a man-child, possessing physical attributes that had rarely been seen in a basketball player. Ben Simmons not only resembles LeBron in his physical stature, but also resembles him in the way he plays the game.
LSU fans often saw Simmons grab a defensive rebound, dribble the length of the court, and finish with the right or left hand at the basket. Simmons can play the point forward, and he averaged around five assists per game despite having a lackluster team. Double doubles were a common occurrence for Ben Simmons and LeBron James. Ben Simmons averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per game in his only season for the LSU Tigers.
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