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NBA Reddit user creates pro comparison for top prospects

A NBA Reddit user (kip_chelly) used a statistical model to create pro comparison for the top NBA prospects for this year’s draft.

I wanted to put into perspective how deep this draft class is and put in perspective the type of season each top prospect had relative to an NBA player’s college season(s). So, I decided to compute cosine similarity scores between the top prospects in this draft and NBA players’ NCAA seasons.

The Reddit user computed two cosine similarity values. One was the player’s per 40 minutes stats and the other was for their advanced stats.The user separated the results by guards, wings and bigs.

For the per 4o minutes stats, the user took into account FG%, 2P%, 3P%, FT%, PTS, AST, TRB, STL, and BLKs. For the advanced stats, the user took into account TS%, eFG%, FTr, WS/40, ORB%, DRB%, AST%, STL%, BLK%, TOV%, USG%, PER, OBPM, and DBPM.

  • Unique per 40 = an NBA player’s NCAA season per 40 minutes stat line that was only returned for this prospect.
  • Unique adv = an NBA player’s NCAA season advanced stat line that was only returned for this prospect.
  • (xNumber) means the number of NCAA seasons from that particular NBA player.
  • F., So.,J.,Se. == Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years, respectively

The user was not able to include players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki because they did not play college basketball

1.  Lonzo Ball (UCLA)- The most unique prospect in the dataset. His stats were so ridiculous that he returned the lowest similarity scores in the system.

  • Unique p40: Kidd (x2), Conley
  • Others returned: Westbrook, Grant Hill, Artest, Penny (x2), Deron Williams (x2), Bibby, Wall, DRose

2. Markelle Fultz (Washington)- The only player in the dataset to return both of Westbrook’s UCLA seasons. Additionally, him and Fox were the only players to return an Iverson season.

  • Unique p40: Westbrook (x2), Iverson (So.), Baron Davis, Avery Bradley.
  • Others returned: Francis, Marbury, Arenas, Irving, Roy, Rose, DRussell

3. De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky)- The only top guard to return a Dwyane Wade season, which is Fox’s absolute ceiling if he never develops a 3-point shot.

  • Unique p40: Iverson (F.)
  • Others returned: Wade, Westbrook, Francis, Penny, Marbury, Arenas, Wall, Lillard, Kemba, Roy, IT4 (x2), DRose

4. Jonathon Isaac (Florida State) – Isaac may have returned the most accurate results based on the eye test. He might be the best overall defender in the draft (maybe a little less perimeter defense than Jackson, but more rim protection), and the results show this.

  • Unique p40: Kawhi (x2)
  • Unique adv: Roberson (x3).
  • Others returned: Carter, Marion, Bosh, Gerald Wallace, Gordon Hayward

5. Malik Monk (Kentucky) – No one returned a single JJ Redick Duke season; Monk returned all 4. Monk also returned Kyrie, Kemba, Rip Hamilton, and Isaiah Thomas seasons showing that he could be more than just a shooter at the NBA level.

  • Unique p40: Kawhi (x2)
  • Unique adv: Roberson (x3)
  • Others returned: Carter, Marion, Bosh, Gerald Wallace, Gordon Hayward

Not included in his top 10:

Bam Adebayo – Only one player was in his intersection set, and that was Tristan Thompson

I highly recommend checking out the entire post and reading more about the statistical model the Reddit user created. I only took bits and pieces from the post. Also, math isn’t my strongest subject, so you might understand the creator’s explanation better. You can do so by clicking here.

Article written by Kindsey Bernhard

Lover of dogs, sports and beer. @kindseybernhard

2 Comments for NBA Reddit user creates pro comparison for top prospects

  1. Will there be a final exam? Ha! JK.



  2. Sentient Third Eye
    8:45 am June 5, 2017 Permalink

    It would seem to me that comparisons to existing players is (1) better evaluated subjectively (“eyeball test”) than with metrics and (2) it’s a poor predictor anyway.