It’s NBA Draft season.
And generally, that means seemingly endless optimism, even for teams that find themselves outside the lottery.
Thanks to a fantastic close to the 2017-18 campaign, that’s where the Utah Jazz find themselves: comfortably outside the lottery and looking at targets in the range of their No. 21 pick.
Assuming Utah doesn’t trade up or down (either scenario should scare the Denver Nuggets), here are some of the guys that could be available to the Jazz: Kevin Huerter, De’Anthony Melton, Donte DiVincenzo, Grayson Allen and Chandler Hutchison.
There are plenty more conceivably in play, but we’ll limit today’s exercise to those above. And what’s today’s exercise, you ask? Finding NBA players who had roughly the same profile in college. Here are the parameters:
- The current NBA player should be within two inches of the prospect’s height.
- The current NBA player’s college Offensive Box Plus-Minus and Defensive Box Plus-Minus should be within 0.5 points of the prospect’s.
- The current NBA player’s college numbers should come from the same season as the prospect’s most recent season (e.g., Hutchison should be compared to another senior).
- The current NBA player’s points per 40 minutes in his college season should be within three points of the prospect’s.
Now, this method is far from scientific. And it didn’t necessarily produce stylistic comparisons in every situation. But the findings are still interesting, and may give us a window into these prospects’ ceilings. So, without further ado, let’s get to comps.
When I first ran the Box Plus-Minus search for DiVincenzo on Basketball Reference, some interesting names topped the list (it was sorted by points per game): C.J. McCollum and Klay Thompson. Both of them scored too much per minute to meet all the criteria, though.
Who checked every box? Denver Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris.
Now, Harris was a true sophomore at Michigan State. DiVincenzo is a redshirt sophomore. But some of the similarities here are striking. And DiVincenzo’s superior playmaking and shooting are certainly intriguing in today’s position-less NBA, where wings need the skills of multiple traditional positions.
In terms of Box Plus-Minus, Huerter and DiVincenzo are pretty similar. So, it should come as no surprise that Gary Harris showed up here too. However, the comp we’ll look at closer is Spencer Dinwiddie.
We see Dinwiddie almost exclusively as a 1 these days, so maybe it’s easy to forget that he’s 6’6”. Huerter showing similar playmaking chops (at least statistically) is very encouraging for his outlook.
This is an interesting case for a couple reasons. First, we’re looking at the 2016-17 season, since Melton didn’t appear in a game this year. How much, if anything, did Melton give up during this lost season? And second, Melton’s Box Plus-Minus was bolstered by Defensive Box Plus-Minus, which is generally more favorable to bigs. That’s why the search returned a name like Bobby Portis. There was a player who matched all the criteria, though. And that player is Justin Anderson.
Now, Anderson hasn’t had quite as much success in the NBA as Harris or Dinwiddie, but maybe he’d have had more minutes through his first three seasons if he had playmaking chops as intriguing as Melton’s.
Now, this one’s crazy. And please bear in mind, it’s a purely statistical comparison. Oh, and I cheated my own rules and stretched the height requirement by an inch. But, Allen’s production was strikingly similar to that of Marquette’s Jimmy Butler.
Allen being three inches shorter is obviously huge here. But his athleticism may make up some of that gap, and the numbers might intrigue some team enough to take him at the end of the first round.
The outlook isn’t quite as bright with Hutchison. Simply put, there aren’t any NBA players who match up to his Box Plus-Minus profile. And the one guy who did spend some time in the league, Brandon Davies, logged fewer than 1,000 minutes before heading overseas.
Obviously, Hutchison and Davies are much different players. Hutchison’s a versatile wing who theoretically fits into the NBA’s position-less revolution. Davies was a traditional, back-to-the-basket post scorer, and one who was a little undersized to boot.
There’s reason to believe Hutchison can stick in the league, there just isn’t a great track record for seniors who don’t start dominating till late in their college careers.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com or Basketball Reference.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R’s Dan Favale.