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FiveThirtyEight Makes Analytics-Based Player Comparison For Top NBA Draftees

An ESPN sign hanging that's very old

ESPN's FiveThirtyEight focuses is a data-driven site primarily covering sports and politics. It has used analytics to make some interesting player comparisons for the NBA's newest stars.

Using the cleverly named "Career-Arc Regression Model Estimator with Local Optimization," or CARMELO, the site has released updated player comparisons.

FiveThirtyEight uses player sizes, attributes, and advanced stats to identify similar players and potential career arcs.

The site explained the model, which was created two years ago, here.

From FiveThirtyEight:

The basic premise of CARMELO is simple. For each current NBA player, CARMELO identifies similar players throughout modern NBA history1 and uses their careers to forecast the current player’s future.

According to CARMELO, for example, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, through this point in his career, is similar to former NBA players Isiah Thomas, Jason Kidd, Steve Francis and Kenny Anderson. Kidd continued to improve as a player through his mid-to-late 20s, while Thomas had a long peak and led the Detroit Pistons to two championships. So both are favorable comps for Wall. Francis and Anderson are less favorable. So while Wall has the potential to develop into a superstar, he’s not a sure thing.

Here is what the model has as top comparisons for the top 10 players in this year's NBA. The comparisons are made to players at the same point in their careers, so De'Aaron Fox is being compared to Russell Westbrook entering the NBA from UCLA, not the triple-double machine we just watched win the MVP.

  1. Markelle Fultz (Sixers): John Wall
  2. Lonzo Ball (Lakers): Mike Conley Jr.
  3. Jayson Tatum (Celtics): Brandon Ingram
  4. Josh Jackson (Suns): Luol Deng
  5. De'Aaron Fox (Kings): Russell Westbrook
  6. Jonathan Isaac (Magic): Tristan Thompson
  7. Lauri Markannen (Bulls): Tristan Thompson
  8. Frank Ntilikina (Knicks): Ricky Rubio
  9. Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavericks): Brandon Knight
  10. Zach Collins (Trail Blazers): B.J. Mullens

Other big names in this draft class.

Bam Adebayo (Heat): Ed Davis

Jarrett Allen (Nets): Kevon Looney

Dwayne Bacon (Hornets): Jodie Meeks

Jordan Bell (Warriors): Jeremy Evans

Jaron Blossomgame (Spurs): Sammy Mejia

Jawun Evans (Clippers): Cameron Payne

Harry Giles (Kings): Deyonta Davis

Wesley Iwundu (Magic): Chandler Parsons

Frank Jackson (Pelicans): Malik Beasley

Justin Jackson (Kings): Brandon Rush

Luke Kennard (Pistons): Jeremy Lamb

Frank Mason III (Kings): Lionel Chalmers

Donovan Mitchell (Jazz): Terry Rozier

Malik Monk (Hornets): Jamal Murray

Davon Reed (Suns): Solomon Hill

Sindarius Thornwell (Clippers): Markel Brown

D.J. Wilson (Bucks): Deyonta Davis