Razorback football has dominated the attention from Arkansas fans lately, and rightfully so! The team has exploded to an unexpected and fantastic start to their season, essentially earning three wins in their first four games despite the record books holding them to 2-2.
However, it is not lost on us that the college basketball season is just over a month away. Razorback football head coach Sam Pittman has Hog fans excited about the gridiron, but don’t forget the hype surrounding Razorback basketball head coach Eric Musselman on the hardwood. An overachieving season in 2020 left Razorback faithful eager for more, and an offseason full of new faces did nothing but stoke that fire.
But how much does Razorback Nation really know about all the new faces set to take the court in Bud Walton next season? The goal of these comparisons is to help better understand the type of players Coach Muss has acquired this offseason, and what type of play style you can expect from them.
Please understand that we are not saying these are the exact same players. We are using more widely known NBA talents to give a more specific idea of each Razorback’s playstyle and tendencies, not necessarily their overall skill level or potential. We understand and recognize there is a talent gap.
KK Robinson | 6’0 | Freshman
Standing at only 6’0, Robinson has to find ways to contribute other than relying on height. He’s a quick and crafty point guard with a real sense of the term playmaker. He has an elite feel for the court and finding his teammates, especially for a young guard headed into his first collegiate season. Robinson’s speed aids him greatly in scoring, as well as on the defensive side of the ball. He can handle the rock, light it up from deep, find open teammates, and put a suffocating amount of pressure on opposing guards. In other words, he has all the right tools to develop into an elite point guard.
NBA Player Comp: Chris Paul | 6’1 | PG
Paul is the perfect point guard combination of a cerebral instincts and physical tools. His size limits what he can do physically, but he makes up for it by playing fast, smart, and one step ahead of his opposition on both sides of the ball. His strongest attributes are forcing steals and creating opportunities for others, but he is also capable of hitting shots from anywhere on the court. All of which are attributes shared with Robinson.
This CP3 comparison was suggested by Razorback social media personality @pinto479.
Additional Player Comp: Mike Conley
Conley is another quick and crafty guard that possesses the ability to run an offense and score from anywhere on the court. He is also left-handed, something else he has in common with Robinson.
Desi Sills | 6’1 | Junior
The most prominent returning player on the roster, Sills carries a lot of weight on his shoulders heading into 2021. The junior guard plays much bigger than his 6’1 frame might suggest. He hits threes at an alarming rate when his shots are falling, but he has been known to struggle in stretches. His most consistent contribution is the level of energy, effort, and intensity he brings to the team through defense and fearless drives to the rack. While he’s more than capable of holding a starting position, Sills has proven his worth as a hard-nosed bench player, shooting a noticeably better percentage when coming off the bench.
NBA Player Comp: Marcus Smart | 6’3 | PG/SG
Smart has made the media for some negative plays during his six-year NBA career, but those who have watched him play know the truth. This is a dang good basketball player capable of beating you on both ends of the court. Like Sills, Smart brings the intensity on defense night in and night out, but his shooting sometimes comes in spurts. When on his game, he’s an elite shooter, similar to Sills. At 6’3, Smart is capable of playing point guard, shooting guard, and small forward in some scenarios. Much like Smart, Sills plays bigger than he is on both ends of the court, as is evident in his 3.0 RPG in 2020 as the shortest player on the roster.
Additional Player Comp: Patrick Beverley
Similarly to smart, Beverley plays with intensity, heart, and a desire to win at all costs. His defense is king, but his offense and rebounding is far-too-often underrated, much like Sills’.
JD Notae | 6’2 | Junior | Transfer
One of three sit-one transfers from last season, Notae is itching to make his Razorback debut. After averaging 15+ PPG in each of his two seasons at Jacksonville, Notae brings a high level of expectation into his role with the Hogs. He’s a capable scorer from all three levels, making most of his living in isolation and catch-and-shoot opportunities around the perimeter.
Though he is an exceptional shooter, a more accurate description of Notae’s game would be an all-around scorer. He can shoot from deep, but he’s also been known for pulling up in the midrange and find his spots in the paint. More importantly than all of that, he’s learning to get his teammates involved when he draws help defenders, as well as being more active on the glass.
NBA Player Comp: Bradley Beal | 6’3 | SG
Beal is known for being one of the best all-around scorers in the NBA today, as is evident by his 30.5 PPG average in 2020, second only to James Harden’s 34.3 PPG. Beal is a slightly taller, much more athletic player than Notae, but their scoring style is very similar. Both are capable of knocking down shots coming off of screens, creating separation with their ball handling ability, and finding opportunities at the rim.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Beal’s game is his passing. He averaged 6.1 APG last season, a new career high, mirroring (sort of) Notae’s improvement in this statistic through his first two seasons when he improved from 1.9 APG as a freshman to 3.4 APG in year two.
Additional Comparison: C.J. McCollum, Lou Williams
McCollum and Williams are both slightly shorter and less athletic than Beal, just like Notae. These score-first guards are capable of playing the point guard position but are most comfortable when put in a situation where they can create shots for themselves first, and then counter the defense by hitting open teammates.
Davonte Davis | 6’4 | Freshman
The second freshman on this list, Davis brings a different skillset than Robinson. At 6’4, Davis’s primary contribution is likely to be his defensive prowess and playmaking ability. This sounds similar to Robinson, but Davis relies more on height and length to put pressure on opponents and get his teammates involved. The biggest difference comes in the shooting ability.
Davis has proven capable of hitting the outside shot, but his form is not as fundamentally pure as some of his peers. The potential is there, but Davis will likely spend much of his time finding ways to get to the rim and running in transition versus running a half court offense or scoring from the perimeter.
NBA Player Comp: Jrue Holiday | 6’4 | SG/PG
The former All Star is known primarily for one thing in today’s NBA: defense. Holiday is a perennial candidate for most underrated player in the league, and last season was no different as Holiday averaged 19.1 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 4.8 RPG. More impressively, he has averaged upwards of 1.5 SPG for nine of his 11 seasons in the league. Holiday is capable of contributing in all aspects of the game despite focusing his efforts primarily on defending opposing playmakers.
Additional Player Comp: Marcus Smart
Like Holiday, Smart is a fantastic defender capable of defending nearly every position. His shot can be streaky, but he’s an important piece of any team he’s on thanks to energy, defense, and versatility, all things Coach Muss hopes to get out of his future Razorback.
Jalen Tate | 6’6 | Senior | Grad Transfer
Tate is one of only three seniors on this Razorback squad, all of which are grad transfers. In his last season at Northern Kentucky, the 6’6 combo guard averaged 1.9 SPG en route to winning Horizon Defensive Player of the Year. Tate’s length, playmaking, and versatility make him an easy option to plug into most lineups. He can play multiple positions, though this roster may force him into spending most of his time as a relatively tall PG or SG.
In 2019, Tate shot upwards of 40% from deep before injuring his hand and seeing his percentage drop to 18.2% in 2020. This shows the shooting potential is there, but it is not a steady skill set the team should rely on. Instead Tate will serve more as a playmaker and primary defender for the majority of his minutes.
NBA Player Comp: Dejounte Murray
Murray, the 6’4 point guard, plays much bigger than his listed height. His impressive 6’10 wingspan allows him to be a true pest on the defensive side of the ball. He averages 1.2 SPG on his career, including a career high 1.7 SPG last season. Murray has also averaged greater than 5.7 APG in each of his last two seasons, showing his worth as an oversized PG. Similar to Tate, he is not known for his 3PT shooting but can knock down the long ball on occasion while focusing on getting his teammates involved.
Additional Comparison: Will Barton (suggested by @pinto479)
Barton is another tall guard that can contribute without always having a score-first. He mainly plays SG of SF in the NBA, but he’s more than capable of handling the ball and running offensive sets through himself or others.
Moses Moody | 6’6 | Freshman
Coming in as the highest ranked freshman in Arkansas’s 2020 class, Moody is another player with high expectations from the jump. He stands at 6’6 and has earned praise from coaches and fans at every level. Some have even called Moody the best shooter they’ve ever seen. His length and ball skills give him the potential to be an elite guard in college, and eventually the NBA. Moody has great instincts offensively, possessing the ability to score from anywhere on the court. He also has the physical tools required to be a great defender someday. Moody is already a known pest in passing lanes in a team defense setting.
Also, don’t be surprised if Moody becomes the first 1-and-done in Razorback basketball history.
NBA Player Comp: Paul George
George stands a good 3-4 inches taller than Moody, but the former All-Star has a very similar playstyle. He uses his length to bother opponents on the defensive side of the ball, especially when patrolling passing lanes. George is also an exceptional three-point shooter with the ball handling and length necessary to get his shot of from anywhere. George is one of the smoothest players in the league, and Moody is fully capable of living up to this comparison someday.
Additional Comparison: Donovan “Spida” Mitchell
While Moody does not possess the vertical Spida has, he does have a similar wingspan that played a large part in earning Mitchell his super hero nickname. Mitchell is also a stellar three point shooter capable of shooting off the dribble or on catch-and-shoot opportunities.
|Razorback||NBA Comp / Secondary Comp|
|KK Robinson||Chris Paul / Mike Conley|
|Desi Sills||Marcus Smart / Patrick Beverley|
|JD Notae||Bradley Beal / Lou Williams, CJ McCollum|
|Davonte Davis||Jrue Holiday / Marcus Smart|
|Jalen Tate||Dejounte Murray / Will Barton|
|Moses Moody||Paul George / Donovan Mitchell|
I hope you are all as excited as I am to watch this new talent take the court under Coach Musselman. As always, Woo Pig.
Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @OTHArkansas for exclusive Razorback news, memes, and articles.