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Sunday, April 24, 2011

For Comparisons Sake (Scotty Hopson, Iman Shumpert, Chandler Parsons)

This article is a bit hypocritical, but I enjoyed doing the research in order to find comparisons for this years draft class. So many comparisons get thrown around these days for fans looking for a simple answer, rather than taking the time to read a quality scouting report like those provided by draftexpress.com. There is much more to learn by taking time out to read in-depth reports, as no two players are exactly alike, but not everyone is a draftnik willing to spend their precious time reading delicate scouting reports.

That is where we get comparisons like the famous DeShawn Stevenson to Michael Jordan comparison by nbadraft.net. In their defense, comparisons can include a lot of things. You can compare one player to another because of how good they will be, their production level, college success, or their playing style. Rarely are you going to find two players with all those things in common.

For the sake of this article, I came up with some comparisons, but I will attempt to explain how they are alike as well as their difference. Most of these players are late first to early second round picks because I find that players with star potential are a lot more individually unique. LeBron James, Dirk, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Wade, etc are all their own player without anyone matching their style or production. Lesser players have more similarities because they are forced into their own role and style once they hit the NBA.

Note: My research was helped immensley by draftexpress.com's college stats search found here. If you want to search for all the years in their database at once, change the web address from what ever year you originally seached for and insert the word "all". Because I used their database, my comparisons are fairly recent, dating back only to 2001. I wouldn't be able to compare farther back anyway, though, due to my age.

Scotty Hopson
Hopson entered the college ranks as one of the best high school players in the country. He has improved each year at Tennessee, but has failed to become a star. He physically looks the part, but his college numbers are more similar to a role playing shooting type like Thomas Gardner. While Gardner was built for that role, Hopson has a higher ceiling and a different mindset. I find it hard to see him lasting in the league as strictly a shooter, unless his defense picks up.

The two guys I would relate him to over anyone else would be Rodney Carney and Rasual Butler. Carney had even better athleticism than Hopson, but wasn't able to put it to use either. With their average ball handling skills, they were both relegated to more of a jump shooting role, which takes away from their strengths. They both have solid form, but aren't what NBA guys would classify as shooting specialists. They need more from the defensive end. Despite their athletic tools, though, they both put up underwhelming numbers in college in terms of rebounds, steals, and blocks. They have the tools to defend, but haven't shown the consistent effort and awareness to be an above average defender.

With Rasual Butler, I think they played similarity offensive in college. Butler had a more consistent jumpshot, while Hopson is somewhere in between Carney and Butler in that area, although Hopson has also shown some promise with his shot. Statistically, they mirror each other with a bad assist to turnover ratio and the lack of free throw attempts. They both move well, but have proven to be more effective off the pass or one or two dribbles. They aren't the type of guys to make teammates better.

In terms of draft stock, I see Hopson going somewhere in between where Carney (#16) and Butler (#24 in round 2) went. He has above average athleticism, but not on Carney's level where he has a good shot at intriguing a team with a mid-first rounder. He's a late to early second round pick right now.

Iman Shumpert
Shumpert's strength is fairly obvious to even a casual viewer - his defense. Right now he is labeled as a late first to early second round pick which is right where Kyle Weaver's draft range was. Weaver was also a very versatile defender who could handle and distribute offensively, but lacked a jumper or anything to stand out on that end. He has bounced around from the D-League and the NBA, but I believe Shumpert has a lot better chance of making an impact.

While Weaver is a very good defender, he isn't as gifted athletically as Shumpert. When looking at college numbers, he rivals Dwyane Wade (a fellow Chicago guard - he also shutdown another guard out of Chicago, Evan Turner, in last year's tournament) and Rajon Rondo with his ability to rebound and rack of steals from the guard position. Shumpert, Wade, Mardy Collins, and Cedric Jackson are the only guys to have over 7 rebounds (per 40 min pace adjusted) and 3 steals ("") in a college season since 2001.

Not only does his athleticism give him more of a chance to be effective defensively than Weaver, but offensively too. He has a better chance of playing point guard and with Paul Hewitt coaching him his entire college career, I think some qualified NBA coaching could really help him. Shumpert was another top 25 recruit that failed to improve under Hewitt. Guys like Anthony Morrow, Derrick Favors, Will Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Chris Boh, and Thaddeus Young were all better off after leaving for the pros.

For a late first to early second rounder, Shumpert is a good guy to take a flier on. He can step in right away and be a great defender and there is plenty of untapped potential offensively too.

Chandler Parsons
Searching for comparisons for Parsons is a meticulous task, as Parsons is a rare kind of player. He won SEC player of the year despite not being a big time scorer or a great defender. Instead, he showcased a wide variety of skills and unselfishness that ultimately helped his team earn a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The first player that stood out to me as similar was Luke Walton. Walton has probably close to 35 pounds on him which has made him more effective posting up in the triangle offense, but the rest of their games are similar.

Like Parsons, Walton has a great feel for the game which shows up in the win column. During Walton's two years at Arizona, his team reached the Sweet Sixteen twice - one time making it to the Elite Eight. For their high skill level and feel for the game, both surprisingly struggled to shoot the ball, although Walton has gotten better over times. As I've said previously, I think Parsons will become a better shooter too, as he already showed signs of finding his stroke by shooting over 40% from three in conference play this year.

The second, and most accurate comparisons for Parsons, would be Mike Dunleavy. The Dukie, was yet another point forward type that was part of a winning college tradition. His physical strength more closely represent Parsons' than Walton, while Walton and Parson are more similar in their lack of consistent shooting. They all have an outstanding feel for the game in common though.

Parsons may be slightly behind these two in terms of stock, but he did outshine both of them in rebounding despite playing with Macklin, Young, and Tyus. He is one of my sleepers and he would make a fine choice early in the second round. He would fit best with a team that pushes the ball, just like Dunleavy.

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