When Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz compared Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Hall of Fame hoopster Charles Barkley last week, saying Hopkins "has some rebounder-type skills in him," I thought it was kind of weird at first. But I think I get where Schwartz was coming from. After watching some of the completely ridiculous catches DeHop made on Sunday (and has been making all year), I'd say the former college basketball player would be the best rebounder in the NBA if he played.
With all of that being said -- and with Christmas being the unofficial start of the NBA season (somebody can let the Bulls know that we're underway) -- I wanted to give you some of my NFL/NBA comps to chew on. I'm sure there will be no disagreements, and we'll all be on the same page here.
The thing that sticks out to me the most about this pair is that both are freakish athletes. Barkley obviously has the legs that have earned him the nickname "Saquad" amongst NFL fans. And Giannis has this incredible wingspan that makes it look like he could stand at center court and shake hands with fans on opposite sidelines. A quick aside: Giannis was selected 15th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. The same year Cleveland took Anthony Bennett first overall. Could you imagine where the Cavs would be right now if they had drafted and traded away Giannis instead of Bennett and 2014 first overall pick Andrew Wiggins to make way for LeBron's return? (Answer: They'd still be one of the worst teams in the league, but their fans would be that much sadder.)
Bell and Leonard played for storied franchises (Bell with the Steelers, Leonard with the Spurs) with championship aspirations. Both, however, have found a way to force the team's hand on their way out of town, with Bell under the franchise tag and Leonard maneuveringto be traded away last offseason. I post that with no judgement of either of these players, who have their reasons. In fact, I'm not a fan of either the Steelers or the Spurs, so I'm really on board with both Bell and Leonard.
It's so easy to overlook defense, especially in both sports. But Embiid is a throwback big who is dominant in the post, even when being dominant in the post is no longer much of a thing in the NBA, with everyone on the perimeter. And while defense has never really gone out of style, per se, in the NFL, Bosa has made a name for himself on the side of the ball that hasn't been responsible for the league's scoring and yardage explosion.
Brown has been at the top of his profession for quite some time. He's a player you can't guard one-on-one. Plus, you know he's going to get targeted (a lot) -- and there is pretty much nothing you can do to stop it. Harden is the same way. And there is really nobody quite like either of these guys in their respective sports. They aren't the most physically imposing guys in the game but are just about unstoppable. Oh, and there's no topping their fashion sense.
These giant individuals can absolutely clog the lane. The one difference here is that Campbell has rarely missed time due to injury -- he's out there every week -- while Gobert has struggled to remain on the court. That said, Gobert has played in all 34 of the Jazz's games this season and is having the best year of his career.
This was one of the hardest comparisons to formulate, in that it involved finding a match for Westbrook, who is one of the most versatile players in the league. Nailed it, I believe. Westbrook is a player who is a threat to post a triple-double every time he walks out on the court. Elliott never gets the credit he deserves for being a receiver out of the backfield, but he's a guy who can go for the 100-100 mark in rushing and receiving -- and he's a hell of a blocker, making him Westbrook's match in versatility.
Both guys were well-traveled journeymen who stepped up to help a couple of championship squads, even though neither were expected to make much of an impact when they first came on board. OK, so I'm not sure what Iguodala's expectations were. But nobody figured Foles would amount to much. And then he became an unlikely Super Bowl MVP after the Eagles won the Super Bowl last season. Iguodala was a starter for the Warriors but really flourished as a performer when coach Steve Kerr moved him to the sixth-man spot in front of the 2014 season.
Both have identifiable facial follicles that help them stand out. I mean, outside of the tremendous athletic ability, obviously. Luck has his patented neckbeard, while Davis rocks the 'brow. What I also find similar is that both are great players on their own, but you wonder if these guys from these small-market teams will have the chance to make a championship run. Unless, you know, LeBron James wills one of them onto the Lakers' roster.
Speaking of LeBron, let's get this one out of the way: Mack is LeBron. And not for some of the reasons that you think. Obviously, both players are versatile. Both started their careers on bad teams. You could even say Mack has moved on to the Heat portion of his career. But my main reason is both players are so dominant, their opponents are never called for fouls or penalties. LeBron routinely gets mugged on the way to the basket, which apparently isn't against the rules in the NBA anymore. And even though Mack is held on every play, he didn't get a call until the Packers game in Week 15. I mean, he's resorted to sacking people with his back now.
Both players were standouts in college, playing for non-traditional powers to great fanfare. At Texas Tech, Mahomes led the NCAA in passing yards, total offense and total touchdowns in 2016. Curry's Davidson teams were a staple of March Madness. Both had doubters who thought they were gimmicky players heading into their respective leagues, and they slid in the draft much further than they should have, with the Chiefs taking Mahomes 10th overall in 2017 and the Warriors snagging Curry seventh overall in 2009. Safe to say those notions have been put to rest.
This might be my favorite one. It's perfect, right? Both are former champions, still playing for the team that brought them into the league. Well, wait. Was Dirk drafted by the Clippers and then traded to the Mavericks after he refused to play in California? No? Well, then it might not be perfect, but I believe it's pretty apt.
These rookies are absolutely tearing it up for teams that could desperately have used the spark. Mayfield has not only helped Browns fans get excited, but he's a find for the city of Cleveland, which only lost LeBron to Los Angeles a few months ago. Doncic is the most exciting rookie in the NBA, tearing it up nightly and showing off a knack for stepping up during his team's biggest games. Sounds a lot like Baker, right? This couldn't be more perfect -- unless Doncic had a grudge against Hue Jackson, too.
Let's see, both players are low-key one of the best at what they do, giving their teams the chance to beat anybody on any given outing. They play in two of the low-key best cities of America, though hipsters have been let in on the secret regrading Charlotte and Portland a long time ago. And as an added bonus, neither won the Heisman Trophy.
Both players are legendary athletes in the twilight of their careers who have gone home to their original teams for one last tour through the league. And what's interesting to note here is that both have connections to Chicago, with Peppers having played for the Bears and Wade being from the city and having played briefly for the Bulls. Although one of them couldn't get to Aaron Rodgers in the 2013 season finale, giving Randall Cobb time to slip past Chris Conte (which really isn't difficult to do) for a back-breaking touchdown and killing the Bears' hopes of winning the NFC North that year.
Here are a couple of veteran players who were once considered at or near the top of their profession and are still out there putting up numbers. Although I might be stretching how good Carter is right now, considering he's averaging 7.3 points per game for a 9-23 Hawks team. So maybe we pretend this is 2013 Carter (11.9 ppg for the Mavs)?
People think of Green as a trash talker, which he certainly is. But he's really the heart and soul of the Warriors and finds a way to raise his game when it matters the most. I feel that way about Ramsey, too. Obviously, things haven't gone well for the Jaguars this season. But when they return to the playoffs in 2019, Ramsey will be a big reason why.
Tall guys who can pass. That's all I got. Though I will say each player's passing motion is just about the same. I kid, Philip! Love you.
These veteran guys are so valuable to their teams but never quite get the love that they deserve. As an added bonus, Williams began his career in Philadelphia. Now he plays for a team that left San Diego. Sproles began his career for a team that just recently left San Diego and is now in Philadelphia. Whoa.