NBA draft: Teams playing name game

Published: Wednesday, June 25 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

Could Roy Hibbert be the next Zydrunas Ilgauskas?

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It's called The Comparison Game, aka The Name Game, and it's played by virtually everyone around the league from Internet draft prognosticators to scouts and front-office executives to prospects themselves.

Even Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor admits as much.

"I think you do that. You really do," said O'Connor, whose club selects 23rd overall in the first round of Thursday night's NBA Draft. "You say, 'Who does he remind you of?'

"If he doesn't remind you of anybody, maybe you're in trouble ... He's got to remind you of somebody," O'Connor said. "Now, you can argue about who that guy is."

For Jazz player personnel vice president Walt Perrin, the game is as money as Monopoly — and sure beats the heck out of Sudoku.

"When we look at players," he said, "we always say, 'Who is he compared to, or who does he play like that's been in the league?'

"It gives you a frame of reference, in terms of, 'OK, what can he be at best-case scenario and what can he be at worst-case scenario?"'

Take 7-foot-2 Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, a possible pick for the Jazz at 23.

According to DraftExpress.com, a Web site devoted largely to the NBA Draft, Hibbert is compared in the best case to Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Though plagued by foot and back injuries, the Cleveland Cavaliers center has been a two-time NBA All-Star.

That's a good thing.

In the worst case, he's compared to Boniface N'Dong, he of 23 NBA games with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Not so good.

Hibbert has heard the Ilgauskas comparison, and likes it.

And he willingly admits to playing the game himself, though he prefers not to get pinned down.

"I've always wanted to be a mix of Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe (Mutombo), Patrick (Ewing)," Hibbert said with reference to three longtime big men who preceded him at Georgetown. "But I'll be my own player."

Some prospects shoot for the moon when playing, like Utah State shooting guard Jaycee Carroll, a second-round hopeful who dropped the name of Steve Kerr, the current Phoenix Suns basketball boss whose reserve-role NBA career lasted 15 seasons.

Others seem to know their limitations, including BYU big man Trent Plaisted, a likely second-round selection who worked out Tuesday for the Jazz.

"I've never proclaimed myself to be a jump shooting Dirk Nowitzki type of player," he said.

Plaisted, incidentally, gets compared to Portland's Channing Frye in a best-case scenario and to former Colorado State big man Jason Smith of Philadelphia in a worst-case scenario by DraftExpress.com, while NBADraft.net, another draft-centric Web site, goes with ex-Jazz center Greg Foster.

"Some of that Internet stuff (originates) from people in the league ... because they (Web site writers) talk to a lot of people," Perrin said. "Some of it that I look at ... on the Internet is absolutely ludicrous."

NBADraft.net's comparison for Hibbert? Portland center Joel Przybilla.

"I'd say that's ridiculous," Perrin said. "They're two different-type players. I think Joel is more of a defensive player, and Roy is a better offensive player."

Hibbert laughs when presented with the Przybilla comparison — and promptly takes another turn in the game.

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