Back in the spring of 2016, I was in a really different place. I lived in Berkeley, California. Now I’m back in Massachusetts, but there are things I really miss about living out West. Primarily, I miss the pick-up basketball. I was playing three days a week at the University of California gym. The game was a real mix of dudes and got quite competitive.
I remember being there one day when all the regulars were there. The 73-year-old gunner who you still had to check. The guy that always tried to fight me. The nice guy who let out that mean streak once in a while (Sup, Jake). The line of college kids who looked down on us older folk. Then a guy I hadn’t seen before arrived. And the whispers started. It was Cal alum Richard Rodgers. At that time, he was a tight end on the Green Bay Packers and had just caught a famous hail mary against the Lions.
His thighs were the size of my whole torso. This dude wasn’t trying to mess up his contract. So he simply hit 28 footer after 28 footer. The few times he did drive to the hole, it was clear he could do that any time he wanted. We did have some legit players too. Yet he was like Thanos in Infinity War, just banishing anyone who stepped to him.
The combination of that story and a video I saw a few years later of Josh McCown, has always made me wonder just how good the average NFL player is at basketball. Their supreme athleticism automatically moves them into a higher class. Are they all skilled too? The video was of 35-year-old journeyman quarterback Josh McCown throwing down alley oops in a charity basketball game. I mean I expected that from Luke McCown, but not Josh. That’s a joke, I can’t tell the McCown’s apart. But that proves my case even more. I never viewed either brother as a special athlete in the context of those around them. (In doing research, it did turn out that Josh had a 38 inch vertical leap, but he was still 35 and over ten years into a career of getting treated like a tackling dummy.)
You may have noticed that the name of this site is musicmoviesandhoops.com and not musicmovieshoopsandamericanfootball.edu. But the air is rapidly cooling down outside and the NBA doesn’t come back until December so I’m going to try an experiment. I am going to draft an NFL player onto every NBA team. To make it a little more fun, the NBA team must draft from the football team that plays in the same area. Let’s move East to West geographically.
Boston Celtics – Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots
I would love to see how his impeccable technique, athletic ability, and instincts translate to the NBA game. Would he and Marcus Smart be the Spider-Man pointing meme the kids talk about?
Brooklyn Nets – They decline to take anyone from the New York Jets.
I bet Danny Dimes can ball. Did you see how fast he was? No turf to trip him up on the court. Plus if he hits threes like he throws interceptions, he’ll be Kyle Korver.
Philadelphia 76ers – Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles
See the intro paragraph. I had to use GPS to try to drive around him.
Washington Wizards – Antonio Gibson? Chase Young? What The Wizards would actually do is petition the committee—me—to allow them to snag Calais Campbell from the Baltimore Ravens. He’s 6’ 8” and there aren’t a ton of big men in terms of height available in the NFL.
Toronto Raptors – Trent Murphy, Buffalo Bills
They have to go south of the border because I’m not spending election night googling Canadian Football League players. Murphy is 6’6” with a 36” vertical leap so they snag some size to back up Siakam and Ibaka.
Charlotte Hornets – Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
This guy can do it all. Run, catch, play baseball, be in GQ. And a few basketball highlights do exist on the internet. Including a sick windmill. So that one is a no brainer.
Miami Heat – Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins
Size, speed, and quickness. I don’t know if he can shoot, but the Heat have enough of that. I almost went with Ryan Fitzpatrick here simply for the comedic visual of him hanging out with Kelly Olynyk.
Orlando Magic – They asked to choose Tampa over Jacksonville. Mike Evans already excels at boxing out in the end zone. However, I have to go with Shaq Barrett. He is the best Shaq in the NFL. That counts for a lot in this fake, one person draft.
Atlanta Hawks – Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
I saw a clip where Boogie Cousins told Andre Drummond that the nastiest dunk he’s ever seen was courtesy of Julio Jones in a high school game. I mean, Boogie’s seen some dunks. So I sat up in my chair at that.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
When someone is as dominant as Garrett can be in a sport filled with other dominant players, I have to pick him. Even if he sucks, I’d love to see it. Plus, didn’t he dunk on Mason Rudolph’s head last season? Oh, I read that wrong?
Detroit Pistons – Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, Detroit Lions
Yes, I know he’s retired, but admit it, you agreed before you realized that.
Indiana Pacers – Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
The way he sees the field and reacts has to translate to the some form of hardwood instincts, right? I’ve also seen a video of him putting his elbow in the rim Vince Carter style. Close call over Mo Alie-Cox who actually did play at VCU.
Memphis Grizzlies – They get to draft from the Tennessee Titans. Gotta go with Derrick Henry. If for no other reason than to track how many times he gets called for traveling. Additionally, I would like to see if Ja Morant rode on his back to games.
Chicago Bulls – Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears
Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham. That’s the lineage of actual basketball players who transitioned to tight end in the NFL. I’m sure Jimmy can still ball a little.
Milwaukee Bucks – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
I just have a hunch that this guy can shoot. He’s a good athlete and some of that legendary accuracy has to crossover. Just spot up and Giannis will find you. If that doesn’t work, he’ll be designated to specifically throw Kevin Love style full court outlet passes.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings
Houston Rockets – Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
That man is a wizard. I would love to see him on a good team. If it takes a totally fictitious draft that can’t ever happen to see it, I’ll take it. Let’s pair him with Westbrook and Harden (or Westbrook and Embiid???) and see what happens.
Dallas Mavericks – Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys
His name sounds like it fits right in with Doncic and Porzingis. That’s all.
Oklahoma City Thunder – You should have had Russell Wilson! Still, I suppose by the arbitrary rules I made, I have to give you someone. So you get Patrick Mahomes. He can do everything else so I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he averaged 25 points a game.
Denver Nuggets – Jeff Driskel, Denver Broncos
I watched him play QB at Florida before he transferred to Louisiana Lafayette. He was not a good college QB. The fact that he has a career in the NFL flabbergasts me. So now I want to see if he’s bad at basketball, but he could also have a career in the NBA.
Utah Jazz – Darren Waller, “Las Vegas” Raiders
An absolute athletic force. He would fit well on the front line with Gobert. Like a bigger George Niang. As I said, 30 of them, they’re not all going to be gems.
Phoenix Suns – DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
This dude can catch anything thrown his way. Could that also include lobs from Devin Booker? Isn’t it kind of trippy to think that Hopkins is significantly smaller than Booker? The scale of basketball to football players remains such a trip.
Sacramento Kings – Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
I’ve got the other California teams all earmarked. Thus I’m going to break my own rules and stretch geography. The Sacramento Kings can have any Cincinnati Bengals player. They’re basically equivalent franchises from a success standpoint. I feel like Joe Burrow would walk in the Kings locker room and think he was the best player there.
Los Angeles Lakers – Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
He is built like a freaking tank. His quickness is off the charts. His strength is monumental. Could he be a shorter Charles Barkley? I would love to see grown men bounce right off him as they try to back him down.
Los Angeles Clippers – Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers
The teams I chose for their LA counterparts was very intentional, in case you were wondering. For this pick, I gravitated towards an athletic freak who can do almost anything on the field. His combine numbers are nuts. Just turn him loose and see what happens.
Golden State Warriors – Mike McGlinchey, San Franscisco 49ers
I chose a 6’8” 315 lbs offensive lineman because really, the Warriors have the guards pretty well covered with the Splash Brothers coming back. Not to mention, I haven’t picked an offensive lineman yet and I thought it would be fun.
Portland Trailblazers – D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
Metcalf is the most physically dominant wide receiver in the league. His combine numbers are unreal. He looks like a Marvel super hero and plays like one too, with moments like his now famous chase down against the Cardinals… He’d be a good fit alongside the elite skills of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Whew! I did it! 30 NFL players for 30 NBA teams. The only team not mentioned was the Pittsburgh Steelers. Did you know that Pittsburgh has three of the four major sports and it’s the only city where they all have the same color scheme?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Who did I miss or who would you choose? Have a great day.
(P.S. in case your day needs this, here’s 3:00 minutes of Nate Robinson judging NFL players dunks.)