I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday while I was walking around the dog park with my dog, but I really do believe that having an NBA-sounding name is of great importance to draft prospects. Names like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving just sound like the names of superstars, for whatever reason, just like there’s a reason guys like Jamaal Magloire, Theo Ratliff and Steve Smith peaked at a single All-Star Game. It’s an inexact science, and injuries can certainly derail a Hall of Fame name (word to Antonio McDyess), but for the most part, you can tell if a player is going to be a big deal solely by looking at his name.

And that’s what this draft primer is going to do. Using the 60 players in Draft Express’ latest mock draft, I’ll break these NBA hopefuls down in to tiers based only on how legendary their name makes them sound. Additional notes are added where necessary.

Future All-Stars

These aren’t necessarily the best names in the draft, but they are the names that sound most likely to be important in the NBA. Some of them are guys who will just end up being last names, which is a sign of respect.

  • Trey Burke — Not just because we share a first name, either. You have to admit “Trey Burke” sounds like an athlete name.
  • Victor Oladipo — Sure to go by his last name only, which is awesome.
  • Nerlens Noel — Same as above, only “Noel” sounds like a backup All-Star in the Eastern Conference.

Future Starters

Just a bunch of solid names, the likes of which you’ll see as fourth and fifth options all across the league.

  • C.J. McCollum
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Otto Porter
  • Shabazz Muhammad — His dad follows this theory of famous-sounding names, but this has backfired as “Shabazz Muhammad” already sounds like a guy who never lives up to his potential.
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Deshaun Thomas — Sure to be a defensive stopper who can’t shoot and therefore only plays 20-25 minutes a game.

Rotation Players

Nice names, sure, but they also sound like they could be default player names in NBA 2K14.

  • Dennis Schroeder
  • Isaiah Canaan
  • Jamaal Franklin
  • Tony Mitchell
  • Pierre Jackson
  • Erick Green
  • Lorenzo Brown
  • Solomon Hill
  • C.J. Leslie
  • Erik Murphy
  • Ryan Kelly
  • Elias Harris

End of the Benchers

The random guys your favorite team brings in to fill out their roster. For some reason, they tend to have notable names. Think Brian Scalabrine and Hamed Haddadi.

  • Rudy Gobert
  • Ricky Ledo
  • Raul Neto
  • Tony Snell
  • Myck Kabongo
  • Peyton Siva — I’m imagining a SI-VA! SI-VA! chant when games are out of hand.
  • Trevor Mbakwe

Summer League Bodies

You know, those guys who always show up in summer league, but never really do much besides sporadically showing up in NBA games on 10-day contracts.

  • Alex Abrines
  • Mike Muscala
  • Nate Wolters
  • Jackie Carmichael
  • Archie Goodwin
  • James Southerland
  • Grant Jerrett


I just don’t see any way these names are going to make it in the NBA.

  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Michael Carter-Wiliams — Blame Chris Douglas-Roberts.
  • Jeff Withey — I don’t know which is worse — that he’s an NBA Jeff, which doesn’t bode well, or that his last name is basically “Whitey,” which also doesn’t bode well.

Horrible, Brutal Kings That Everyone Wants Dead

  • Joffrey Lauvergne

Ruined Names

These are guys who are going to have a tough time making their name their name.

  • Colton Iverson
  • Tim Hardaway, Jr.
  • Glen Rice, Jr.
  • Gorgui Dieng — Especially if he is drafted by the Bulls.
  • Ben McLemore — Because of that rapper your mom likes.
  • Ray McCallum — Special dispensation, as he will probably be confused for C.J. McCollum.

Up for Grabs

These guys also have names that are already taken, but I feel like they at least have a chance of besting their predeccessors.

  • Shane Larkin — Not that he’ll ever out-Larkin his dad, Barry. But Poppa L played baseball a long time ago, so maybe his son could be the first NBA Larkin? Seems feasible.
  • Cody Zeller
  • Mason Plumlee

Should Have Played Different Sports

These just don’t seem like basketball names to me. Their alternate sports are listed.

  • Alex Len — NHL center, especially when considering his full name is Oleksiy Len.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — SEC cornerback.
  • Steven Adams — NFL offensive lineman.
  • Allen Crabbe — Big Ten defensive lineman.
  • Sergey Karasev — NHL defenseman.

Never Coming to the NBA

These guys sound like classic overseas stashes, even if they may already be playing basketball in the United States.

  • Giannis Adetokunbo
  • Lucas Nogueira
  • Livio Jean-Charles — Alternate name category: Part of an Ensemble Cast of a Sitcom.
  • Marko Todorovic
  • Nemanja Nedovic
  • Bojan Dublijevic
  • Romero Osby

So there you go, 60 of the best NBA draft prospects properly broken down by name, so that we can truly know how they will perform on the next level. 10 years from now, we can look back at this and marvel at just how accurate it was. If you disagree, please make your case in the comments.

Comments (15)

  1. Would it be legal for Nerlens Noel to grow his hi-top fade so tall that it alters opponents’ shots? Or would the league step in and ask him to cut it?

  2. Was waiting almost the whole time to see what you’d do with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and I believe it was exactly perfect

  3. These names are all p great, but they pale in comparison to Carrick Felix.

  4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — SEC cornerback. Brilliant!

    Lucas Nogueira is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist.

  5. Man, Myck Kabongo definitely sounds like starter material to me.

  6. The Wire and Game of thrones references. Just brilliant!!!

  7. I actually did the same sort of analysis, but had a few differences:

    -Victor Oladipo: Bust (mostly cuz I have trouble saying it)
    -C.J. McCollum: Too many C’s… So naturally he’ll work in Boston. Otherwise, just an average player (get it? like a C average?)
    -Tony Snell: I have him as a Rotation player, much like Evan Turner or Wes Matthews. Solid name, but not extremely strong.
    -Archie Goodwin: I have him in his own category: Role player who’s biggest contribution will be a trick question during future Draft Trivia sessions (“When was Archie Goodwin drafted?” “Um….1954?”)
    -Michael Carter-Wiliams: Prime name pedigree — Michael (Jordan) (Vince) Carter-(Deron) Williams. He’s a lock in the NBA!
    -Mason Plumlee: His only chance is if he gets drafted by Boston. I just picture him taking KG’s torch and being hated by other teams.

  8. I can’t hear/read the name “Alex Len” without thinking of that song from the 90s Steal My Sunshine. Ruins his name for me.

  9. olynyk is really fun to say in an nba hangtime voice though.

    also he instantly leapfrogs into the top three of the ‘sounds like a hot chick all stars’.

  10. TBJ always racist towards europeans, Bargnani and Raptor nation left a bad name

  11. While I maintain that most of the ‘sound’ of these names is actually based on what you’ve read or heard about them (Oladipo could just as easily be a never-heard-from-again Eurostash), it was hilarious.

    Somehow, Nogueria sounds like a great swingman, Snell sounds like a wiry, quick defender, and McCollum sounds like a Derrick Williams style bust.

    Siva’s got a superstar quality name, too.

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