Griffin Canning is… D’Angelo Russell
This season, we have watched Griffin Canning go from top prospect to (arguably) the top of the Angels’ rotation. The rookie starter has been must-watch television every time he steps on the mound, and has a variety of above-average pitches he uses to make batters miss. This season, Canning has been a rare bright spot on the mound for the Angels, and is barely scratching the surface of what he can be.
D’Angelo Russell is very similar in that he went from former top pick to All Star in 2019. The Brooklyn Nets, who were still reeling off arguably the worst trade in NBA history, made their first playoff appearance since 2015. While he struggled in the playoffs against the 76ers, Russell showed he has the ability to be a valuable contributor, and should post new career-highs next to Steph Curry in Golden State this upcoming season.
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While some Halo fans might scoff at this, the main comparison here is that both Canning and Russell are best served as #2’s. They can both be serviceable top options, but their real value comes as elite second fiddles.
Andrelton Simmons is… Khris Middleton
Defense defense defense! Both Andrelton Simmons and Khris Middleton are top-tier defensive players in their respective sports, while also providing a lot of value on offense.
Their careers have had similar timelines. Coming into the league, both players were defensive specialists. Middleton, standing at 6’8”, immediately had the capabilities to defend four positions. Simmons on the other hand, used an elite blend of range, instincts, and arm strength to consistently churn out highlight plays for the Atlanta Braves.
Then, both players started to become threats on offense. Middleton has turned into a dynamic second option next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, and is a threat to score at every level. Similarly, Simmons has developed greatly as a hitter since coming to Anaheim. He has shown he is able to hit for contact and power, and became one of the best hitters with two strikes against him in the 2018 season.
Neither Simmons nor Middleton are exceptional as #1 stars for their teams, but both have learned their roles, and excel at them.
David Fletcher is… Jimmy Butler
Again, I realize this is a pretty weird physical comparison, but Jimmy Butler and David Fletcher’s play styles are pretty similar when one actually looks at it.
Both are guys who can fill any assortment of roles. We know Fletcher can play any position on the field. Similarly, Butler can fill a variety of roles on the court. Whether you want him running your offense, focusing his energy on the defensive end, or playing off ball as a slasher type, Butler can fit the mold.
The one area that both players are negatives is the long ball. For Fletcher, it’s very rare to see him send a ball over the outfield fence, and if it, it’s likely just scraping it. As a 76ers fan, I watched as weeks went by last year where Jimmy Butler just refused to shoot three pointers.
At their best, these are two guys who can be the #1 on offense. For Fletcher, that means when things are going well at the plate, he is an ideal leadoff hitter. Furthermore, when Butler has everything going, he can be the point guard of an offense, like we saw when the 76ers played the Toronto Raptors in the NBA playoffs.