The next LeBron James?
Projected: No. 1, Pelicans
The former Duke forward is about 30 pounds heavier than the Lakers star, but both have that same unstoppable look when they attack the rim. In 2003, LeBron was the incomparable No. 1 prospect already known on a first-name basis. Over time, LeBron has become even more unguardable by developing his perimeter shooting — a skill Zion will needs to work on.
The next Russell Westbrook?
Projected: No. 2, Grizzlies
If anyone other than Westbrook is going to average a triple double over the next decade, the best bet might be the Murray State standout. Like the Thunder’s do-everything point guard, Morant is a ferocious dunker who goes out of his way to rebound and get his teammates involved, while also being capable of taking over scoring duties when needed.
The next James Harden?
Projected: No. 3, Knicks
Any high-scoring left-handed shooting guard wants to be compared to Harden. (USC’s Kevin Porter Jr. also models his game after him). But it’s more than the former Duke swingman’s long-range shooting touch and ability to score in isolation that have him drawing comparisons to “The Beard.” Both are also underrated passers.
The next Khris Middleton?
Projected: No. 4, Pelicans
The understated Bucks forward was second to Giannis Antetokounmpo on his team in points, rebounds and assists. At Texas Tech, Culver similarly filled the box score, leading the Red Raiders as a sophomore to the NCAA finals. Middleton and Culver are versatile and reliable — perfect complements to any star. Culver would pair nicely with Zion.
The next Damian Lillard?
Projected: No. 5, Cavaliers
Garland played in just five games at Vanderbilt before a knee injury ended his freshman season, but even in that limited time it was easy to be impressed by his Lillard-like ball-handling skills and shooting range. The lack of college experience could scare some execs away, but Garland appears to have all the same tools that made Lillard a star in Portland.
The next Jamal Murray?
Projected: No. 6, Suns
White is the reason Michael Jordan is no longer the Tar Heels’ all-time freshman scoring leader. The 6-foot-5 guard’s ability to push the pace and score in transition are similar to Murray, who had a breakout season in Denver. While both can be facilitators at the point guard position, they seem more comfortable in score-first roles.
The next Kawhi Leonard?
Projected: No. 7, Bulls
While the Virginia standout doesn’t have hands so massive they inspired a nickname and logo, Hunter is about the same size (6-foot-7, 225 pounds) as Leonard and both are known for their perimeter defending. They are also very efficient scorers, with developed mid-range games and above-average shooting percentages all over the floor.
The next Rudy Gay?
Projected: No. 8, Hawks
The former Duke forward has the talent to be an elite scorer for a long time in the NBA — much like the Spurs’ swingman. With long wingspans, the 6-foot-8 forwards have the length to shoot over smaller guards and the speed to exploit bigger forwards. The challenge for Reddish will be to shake the label as a guy who doesn’t care enough.