Buddy Hield, Ben Simmons, Jarrod Uthoff, and Denzel Valentine. Arguably the four best players in college basketball. On most nights their skills remind us of NBA players. Which NBA player (past or present) do each of these All-American candidates resemble the most?
Buddy Hield, Guard, Oklahoma
Buddy Hield is one hell of a player. His numbers are crazy (25.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.3 APG and 50% from 3-point range) and he can flat out score. His NBA comparison is Agent 0, Gilbert Arenas. Both are about 6’4, 215, have similar builds, and are labled “tweeners” by NBA folks.
I don’t think Buddy will be as lights-out of a shooter in the NBA. In his prime Gilbert Arenas was just terrific. His overall career scoring average is 20.7, but that is watered down due to the end of his career and how that whole situation went down. In what could be considered his “prime,” he was averaged 29.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.1 APG and shot about 37% from three. The reason I’m picking Arenas as the comparison for Buddy Hield is they both are terrific offensive players. I think in the NBA Hield’s rebounding numbers will drop slightly and so will his 3-point percentage and scoring total. I think once he starts to get the hang of the speed of the game his points will go back up to about 20 PPG. I also believe his assist numbers will increase drastically. And if you shift his numbers, they are looking very similar to Arenas’. I don’t know if Hield will ever be able to put up the numbers that Agent 0 did but I believe he is an excellent player to compare him to. If Hield can live up to this player, he will have a long career as an NBA All-Star as long as he doesn’t make the mistakes Arenas made off the court.
Ben Simmons, Forward, LSU
Ben Simmons is my favorite to be the number 1 overall pick in this coming NBA draft. If you look at his averages (19.4 PPG, 12.3 RPG, and 5.0 APG), it is easy to see he can pretty much do it all. Simmons is basically a point forward the way he is able to bring the ball up in transition. He reminds me a lot of a LeBron James, but I’m not willing to compare him to one of the greatest players ever just yet. Although he does have a similar skill set as LeBron that would be too high of a comparison for right now. However I am going to compare him to someone who, if injuries didn’t hold him back, could have been one of the greatest of all time.
Tracy McGrady, aka T-Mac, is someone that Simmons reminds me of. In his prime, T-Mac reach over 32 PPG, close to 7 boards, and about 5 assists per game. Simmons is a very special player and I think he will have more rebounds in the NBA then McGrady, but I will be surprised if he is able to put up as many points. T-Mac was an amazing scorer and I don’t exactly see that scoring ability in Simmons, but I do think he will be able to score about the same in college as McGrady did in the NBA, if not more. T-Mac was held back by injuries, and hopefully that doesn’t happen to Simmons. These two players are very special and I hope Simmons lives up to the hype. If Simmons can stay healthy, could surpass McGrady and enter the LeBron James realm.
Jarrod Uthoff, Forward, Iowa
Coming out of nowhere in his senior season, Uthoff has been a man on a mission. The senior has led his Hawkeyes to a top 5 ranking. Averaging 18.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.9 BPG the lanky forward can catch fire at any moment and leads the Big Ten in blocks. His slender 6’9 frame and willingness to shoot rather than playing in the post is why his NBA comparison is Chris Bosh. In his prime, Bosh could light up the scoreboard on any given night as the number one option for the Raptors. For Toronto, he was averaging a double double with about 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Uthoff should very much base his game off of Bosh once he gets to the NBA due to the similar build and playing style. I’ll be surprised if, right from the get-go, Uthoff is putting up similar numbers as he is right now in college. A lot of hard work will be required if he’s going to become a good player in the NBA. Bosh is a stretch because I don’t think he will ever be a 12-time All-Star, but if he is able to find the right system, anything is possible when you can put the ball in the basket like he can. A 6’9 player who has the ability to shoot from deep might make a great small ball 4, so you never know how good Uthoff will be in the NBA. I personally believe in his ability to have a solid NBA career.
Denzel Valentine, Guard, Michigan St
It seems like he has been at Michigan St forever, but Valentine is on his last season and is playing some great ball. He was hurt for a portion of this season, but is still averaging 18.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 6.7 APG. I think Valentine is going to make a great point guard in the NBA. I think he will make that switch due to the fact he has been playing more and more point this season. Because I think he’s better fit at point guard, I’m going to compare him to one of the greatest point guards the NBA has ever seen, Jason Kidd. A triple-double machine is one way to describe Kidd, and Valentine has that capability. Kidd’s best season (16.9 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 6.8 APG) looks a lot like Valentine’s season right now, with more rebounds and less points. However, once he gets to the NBA I don’t believe he will be as much of a scorer and he’ll find his niche as someone who averages 12-14 PPG and continues to grab boards and dish out assists. Kidd is a very bold prediction, but I see something in Valentine that you don’t see in every player. He’s a very hard worker, has a great NBA-body, and he knows what his team needs of him. The veteran senior isn’t going to need a lot of time adjusting to the NBA. Valentine has the capability to become a fantastic point guard in the NBA and if he got drafted by someone like the Bucks, where Kidd could coach, him I think he would thrive.