Sports is something that definitely causes chatter especially in our fantasies. Imagine if LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and others played in the era back when it had Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaq, Larry Bird and all the other greats. Or what if all those legends back then played in the current NBA right now? No one knows how things would be unless it happened, but at least it still causes commotion. The NBA is slowly changing into a shooting game because the Golden State Warriors are so dominant in the 3-point game. That’s why they’re one of the most feared teams right now and why they were compared to the 1995-96 Bulls during their historic 73-win season last year.
The addition of Kevin Durant over the summer was an even bigger blow to other teams. Durant has proven he’s one of the best players. He’s tall and lengthy and is able to knock the three ball and drive it in with ease. Then there’s his teammate Stephen Curry, one of the biggest names in sports today. Curry’s ball handling skills and his elusiveness to make something out of nothing is beyond jaw dropping. It’s amazing what he can do and it would be cool to see him play against people like Tim Hardaway, Allen Iverson, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and others.
That also parts the question whether or not players back then could play in this current status of NBA. Some say the NBA right now is becoming soft and wouldn’t have a chance, but there are many players that standout including Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Rajon Rondo, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony. Still without people like Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Scottie Pippen, Bill Russell, Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo, Pete Maravich, there wouldn’t be any Curry, Lebron, Durant and so forth. It would be quite the gift to see all these players play in their prime against each other. The only thing any of us can do now is talk about.
15 Draymond Green
As much as people love and hate Draymond Green he’s the type of player who hustles. He’s had his many occasions of dirty plays, but he does work hard enough to help his team get the win. At times he can knock down the three ball, but when he attacks the rim more he’s able to draw the foul or score. That’s really what teams are looking for in a player someone who can contribute to the team offensively and defensively and his hustle helps him compete at any level. He may not score a lot, but tries to make it up on defense if he’s able to.
This type of style would have been interesting to see in the more hard-nosed era of the NBA back in the 80s.
14 Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is definitely a stat sheet stuffer when it comes to stats. That’s what fans look for stats and highlight plays. He has his share of threes and dunking on people, but he still grabs the board and blocks shots like nothing. He’s someone anyone would want as a teammate because for a big guy like him many teams would pounce on the opportunity of having him as their core player. It’d be a thrill to see what he could do against Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Shaq and others. He plays like all of them combined dominating points, rebounds, blocks categories.
There's no doubt that the NBA used to be a big man's game and there were plenty of untalented big men getting opportunities 20-plus years ago. Davis has a ton of talent, so he really would have been a man among boys.
13 DeMarcus Cousins
Although, DeMarcus Cousins has had his share of troubles on the court, he’s still a monster when it comes to basketball. Cousins obviously wants to do it all and he can and is slowly developing the three ball which makes him even more deadly on the court. There’s not many bigs who are willing to take over as the guard, forward, and center, but he’s one of the few who can take over. His main goal is to dominate any game. So if that means he has to do it himself, he’s willing to take on that opportunity. So there’s no doubt he could compete in any era of basketball.
If we had to peg Cousins for any era, it would be the 90s, where his big personality would be a little more welcomed.
12 Larry Bird
Larry Bird is the definition of a big who could stand out in today's NBA because he’s a shooter. A better sense of someone who plays similar to Bird and is still playing strong is Dirk Nowitzki. Both of which are set shooters, but can knock a shot down. The goal of the game is to outplay the other team and score as much as possible and his ability to knock down the three ball as well as mid-range shots helps. Plus he played in the era against Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and other greats. Who is to say he can’t compete in this NBA’s status?
Can you imagine an NBA Finals where we would see a battle of Bird versus say, Tim Duncan?
11 Ray Allen
Someone who can surely knock down the three ball with ease is Ray Allen. Allen has made the most threes with 2,973 and has made a bunch of clutch ones including Game 6 of the NBA Finals featuring the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. The only person that could be on pace to overcome Allen’s record is Stephen Curry. Both these guys have pure forms its insane to see them make it with such accuracy. Even when Allen retired from basketball, teams still wanted him because he can still put points on the board, but he’s happy what he’s done starting and finishing.
It would be amazing to see Allen in his prime going shot for shot against Steph Curry. Then again, maybe Allen would just join Curry in Golden State.
10 Magic Johnson
The longtime Laker legend Magic Johnson surely made his mark in the NBA recording the second most triple doubles with 138 so his passing, rebounding skills, and scoring are up there. His no look passing ability makes him at the top tier of greatest point guards. Plus the ability to dunk it easily also helps, but he mostly created plays for his team.
So if he were to play in today’s NBA, he’d fit perfect with a team like the San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors because they play like an elusive, unselfish team. He shares the resemblance of Russell Westbrook because both can work hard for a triple double. Magic is simply a timeless player and with the increased awareness of HIV, perhaps Magic also would have been more careful today.
9 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is also another individual with crazy good ball handling skills. Making that big shot to help pave the way to the Cleveland Cavaliers' comeback against the Golden State Warriors was special for NBA fans to witness. Being in the NBA for a few years, Irving has shown he could probably compete with all the greats back then as well. There's no doubt he's able to dribble past the defender and lay it in for two or pull up for a three. The only downfall for him is he has suffered a couple of injuries, but like any other player that's what happens when you play a contact sport.
Irving is able to elevate his game to the competition, which would have served him well when the NBA was at its best in the late 80s and early 90s.
8 Shaquille O'Neal
Shaq is just an overall beast. He shattered backboards and dunked on people so it was hard to stop him in the paint. The only way to prevent him from scoring was if you did Hack-A-Shaq.. Aside from the poor free throw shooting, he’s basically the type of big teams need. He’s a huge guy whose hard to score on and if the ball is in his hands down low, he definitely will want to dunk it.
Although, the NBA is developing more into a shooting kind of league it’s still nice to have a big to grab boards and block shots to help out on defense.
Shaq was just so big and athletic that his skills could have overcome the type of league the NBA is today and everybody is still looking for their own Shaq.
7 Kawhi Leonard
Probably one of the most underrated players in the NBA, but who also has the potential to be a threat to other teams is Kawhi Leonard. He’s one of the reasons why the San Antonio Spurs are capable of beating the championship favorite Golden State Warriors. His big hands helps him grasp the ball with ease plus his defensive skills are up there. He’s one player some low key don’t want to have guarded.
So if he were to play against people like Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, John Stockton, and others, he probably won’t have trouble against them. That’s why he’s won NBA defensive player of the year back to back years. Leonard wouldn't have been a major superstar in the 90s, but he certainly would've been a very effective player.
6 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is another standout player who can take over at any time. His decision to join the Golden State Warriors definitely has mixed emotions, but aside from that you can’t take away how good he is on the court. His size and length helps him create his own plays at any moment. It helps him offensively and defensively which makes him one of the best players in the game. He’s probably another name who could compete with the greats back then. It’s rare to find a big man who can dominate the game basically as a guard forward and center, but he developed into a player many don’t want to play against.
Durant would have stiff competition in different eras, but his talent is timeless.
5 Stephen Curry
NBA fans are lucky to witness Stephen Curry’s ball court skills. From his pre-game routine to his dazzling layups and far 3-pointers, Curry’s level of play is beyond unbelievable which is why he’s won NBA MVP for two straight years. Still, without people like Julius Irving, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, and other greats, there would be no Curry.
There are other great players in the current NBA right now like Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and others but Curry’s style of play could help him stand out even if he played back then. For now fans can enjoy his smooth gameplay.
Here's a fun idea; imagine Curry playing with the Warriors around the same time as Chris Webber? That would have been one of the toughest duos in all of the NBA.
4 LeBron James
It's already known that LeBron James is an incredible athlete. He’s broken records and plays with great vigor. He’s surely able to compete at any level in the NBA whether it’s back then or now. He’s basically living in Michael Jordan’s shadows chasing after those rings and even being in Space Jam 2 since Jordan was in the original one. No one can doubt James’ work ethic when it comes to basketball. All those chasedown blocks and highflying dunks are exciting to see, and that was one of the main reasons why the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to comeback from 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
James will definitely go down as one of the greatest to play the game. Who wouldn't want to see Jordan versus LeBron?
3 Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant undoubtedly would have been able to play in any era of players. Now he’s moving on to a different chapter in his life. He’s literally done it all while his time in the league. For example, Kobe won MVP, won the Slam Dunk Contest, has been named on the NBA Defensive team, and let’s not mention his five rings. Plus, the fact that he came out of high school and dominated the game of basketball is unbelievable.
Kobe had the type of killer instinct mentality that would have made him tough enough to play in any era of basketball. His work ethic would have really put him over the top in previous eras, where players weren't quite as committed to practicing in their off hours.
2 Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan’s name is always going to mentioned, as we're still wondering if anyone could beat him one on one. Unfortunately the world will never know as he’s aged, but he did leave quite a legacy. The way he dominated the game of basketball with the way he glided to the basket is unfathomable to even explain. If he played in today’s NBA, he probably would do the same and dominate even though there are a lot of good players out there. The hang time that he has is crazy good.
Other than his highflying dunks it's still a blessing for NBA fans to witness his fadeaway jumpers and the fact he’s able to break his defenders with ease is jaw dropping. So it’d definitely be wonders to see what he could do in today’s NBA.
1 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is in a world of his own when he’s on the court. He can put up triple doubles like nothing and has an insane amount of energy. His ability to steal the ball and dunk the ball or lay it up without much effort is astonishing. The only problem with his game may be his shooting, but other than that he can help defensively and offense is not even a problem for him. He can dribble past the defender and dunk it almost any time he wants. He could easily compete with players back then and could stand out back then like he’s doing now.
The only caveat would be he might need a big man to team up with if he played back in the 90s. There's no doubt though, that his competitive fire would have carried him.