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Ball Don't Lie

Picking out the best NBA-level comparisons for Thursday’s draftees

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Is the projected second overall pick in Thursday's draft a J.J. Hickson clone, at least to this point in Derrick Williams' (pictured above) collegiate career and considering his height, weight and age? Is it possible that Jonas Valanciunas reminds of Dwight Howard? Can Nikola Vucevic take his long-range touch to the pros and become a sturdier version of Troy Murphy? Can someone named "Bojan Bogdanovic" be the next Lamond Murray?

Well, if Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton is to be trusted (and, trust me, he's always to be trusted), these are the most appropriate comparisons for the future stars, role players, rotation hounds, and outright busts that the NBA will welcome into its ranks on Thursday night.

Pelton has devised a system that ranks a player's overall size, age and possession-mindful statistics that compares potential draftees to those that have come before them. So while Valanciunas' brief international play might not give enough data to compare with a 7-year-old high school draftee like Dwight Howard (though Howard is Jonas' closest comparison, according to Pelton's system), comparing someone like Iman Shumpert to Ronnie Brewer (with a 97.7 percent similarity score, whereas Valanciunas and Howard have a 90.3 similarity score) seems pretty spot on.

And for Bulls fans that are appropriately worried about the team going the safe route with a known college entity and taking Nolan Smith late in the first round to back up Derrick Rose, beware of his 99.1 percent similarity score to Acie Law. Shudder away, Chicago.

The whole piece is a fascinating read, and while it's placed in our hands bereft of scouting context, for those of us that were watching NBA hoops while the rest of the nation tuned into the NCAA tournament (to say nothing of the NCAA season, or international basketball), it's a necessary starting point.

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