The unanimous top two shooting guards in the 2013 NBA draft- Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo- are both likely to be picked in the top five in Thursday's draft. While the two have very different games, both have potential to be impact players, maybe even all-stars in the league someday.
Here is a comparison of their strengths and weaknesses, their floor and ceiling, and who should be picked first on Thursday:
3/4 Court Sprint
These measurements are taken from the NBA draft combine in May. Both players have remarkably similar numbers in terms of physical attributes. McLemore is half an inch taller, but Oladipo makes up for it with a longer wingspan. Athletically, the two players have almost identical numbers in max vertical, quickness, and speed.
The only big difference physically is their weight. Oladipo weighs almost 15 pounds more than McLemore. The extra pounds will come in handy when defending bigger guards such as Joe Johnson and Kobe Bryant, and when absorbing contact and finishing in the lane.
Both players shot the ball remarkably well. Oladipo was much more efficient, but a lot of that has to do with playing with Zeller while McLemore was the focal point of Kansas's offense.
Oladipo's remarkable field goal percentage, 59.9%, is an indication of his offensive style. He is not a great ball handler and cannot create his own shot off the dribble, but he is a smart cutter, great finisher, and just seems to be in the right place at the right time (reminiscent of last year's No.2 pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist). His jump shot has steadily improved every year in college, but it is still not consistent.
McLemore, on the other hand, is much more polished offensively. He's the whole package- he can shoot, he can drive, he can cut- the only thing missing is consistency and better ball handling.
Neither player has a good assist-to-turnover ratio, but not because of selfishness. Both are incredibly unselfish, team-oriented players. They just need to improve their handles and learn to create.
Defense and Rebounding
Oladipo is the complete package defensively- he used his athleticism, wingspan, motor, and awareness to lead Indiana's defense. He is a lockdown defender, and also a good shot-blocker and rebounder for his position. He has a nose for the ball and is a fighter on the boards.
Though not the defensive stud Oladipo was, McLemore was an effective defender at Kansas. He is a good on-ball defender, but is not as consistent as Oladipo and tends to get lost when he is off the ball.
As a rebounder, McLemore does not go in and fight for rebounds as much as Oladipo does. Part of that is because McLemore consistently plays beyond the three point arc, while Oladipo cuts to the basket much more.
As far as motor and work ethic goes, it doesn't get much better than Victor Oladipo. Much like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he has the kind of commitment that can affect an entire locker room. Coaches and teammates can count on him to go hard every day in practice and every play in the game.
On the other hand, McLemore's aggressiveness and character has been called into question. He himself has admitted that he does not have the killer instincts stars such as Kobe and Wade have. He has been criticized for being too passive during games, and last month there were reports of him arriving out of shape at a workout.
Work ethic is an underrated part of a prospect's success; it is the difference between a player and a star. Given the right team and right coach, however, even a player without a great work ethic can succeed.
McLemore: Ray Allen
Oladipo: Andre Iguodala
McLemore: Brandon Rush
Oladipo: Avery Bradley
McLemore is high risk-high reward; Oladipo is more of a sure thing.
Which prospect will come off the board first? That will most likely depend on team needs. At No.2, Orlando would love a change in culture with Oladipo, but they can afford to gamble on McLemore. At No.4, McLemore is a much better fit with the Bobcats. At No.5, Phoenix seems to like Oladipo more.
While neither prospect is likely to be a franchise cornerstone, both can and should be impact starters in the league someday. Whichever team decides to take a chance on either McLemore and Oladipo will no doubt be hoping for a star.