Lacrosse is a sport that showcases all skill sets. The game features speedsters, bulldozers, shooters, tacticians, and pure athletes. Those skill sets cross over to other sports, especially basketball. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, gained inspiration from lacrosse when creating the new sport.
With the NBA season around the corner, we thought it would be fun to compare the leagues’ top scorers. Let’s ignore height as a comparison for obvious reasons and focus on similar skill sets. The NBA is evolving into positionless basketball. Celtics Head Coach, Brad Stevens, classifies his players into three roles; ball handlers, wings, and bigs. We’ll use a similar system for this comparison.
Connor Fields and James Harden
The two not only dominate with their left hand but test the boundaries of the game. Connor Fields is one of the most creative players in lacrosse. He pulls off moves and shots that normal players only try in their backyard. Harden is currently testing new ways to get his 3-point shot off with one foot. Both thrive in ISO situations and are the toughest one-on-one covers in their sport. They’re not physically imposing guys but near unstoppable.
Jordan Wolf and Russell Westbrook
The number one shared trait between these two athletes is speed. Each has a knack for securing a rebound and making a beeline to the hoop/cage. Jordan Wolf is one of the scariest players scooping a new ball off the end line after a missed shot. He will attack anyone in front of him and is fearless once he gets around the crease. They keep defenses on their heels and require an early slide.
Jules Heningburg and Kyrie Irving
One word; handles.
Irving has the best handles in the NBA, he has that ball on a string when slicing and dicing through defenders. Heningburg, the founder of the Juke Lab, knows a thing or two about breaking ankles. Both are a nightmare cover and use their shake to beat the man across from them.
Matt Rambo and Nikoli Jokic
Obviously Jokic is a “big” due to his size but his best trait is his passing ability. The Nuggets run their offense through Jokic; the big man was sixth in the NBA in assists, not to mention he was fourth in MVP voting. Like Jokic, Rambo has unbelievable vision. Both constantly play with their eyes up looking for an open man. They are the best at surveying the field and picking the defense apart with “singles." Both are pass-first guys but can take it to the hole and finish on demand as well.
Connor Buczek and Paul George
The thing that sticks out to me the most about this pair is athleticism. There is no glaring weakness in their offensive game. Both can beat their defender off the dodge and make contested shots. Along with creating opportunities with the ball, both can spot up and shoot.
Will Manny and Klay Thompson
A couple of the best shooters on the planet, both know how to find twine, but it’s the way they do it that makes them similar. Manny and Thompson are exceptional off-ball players. They never let their defenders rest and know how to create open passing lanes for their teammates. Another similarity is pop time; a traditional baseball term borrowed to refer to the length of time it takes for shooters to release the ball. Each shooter wastes no time receiving and releasing the ball.
Tom Schreiber and Kawhi Leonard
Schreiber and Leonard are both humble guys off the field, but their play on the field exudes the confidence of the best player on the planet. Defenses specifically game plan to stop them and simply can not. You know what you are getting game in and game out. Both have a killer instinct mentality in crunch time and can put their team on their back when needed. If the PLL and NBA started from scratch and had an entry draft, you can bet both would be picked No. 1.
Ryder Garnsey and Zion Williamson
Human highlight reels. Guys that make simple plays look spectacular.
Garnsey and Williamson’s first obvious similarity is rookie status. One first-year player put the league on notice and made jaw dropping plays. The other is bound to do the same in his rookie campaign. Not only do these two create memories for fans, but they also generate additional opportunities for their teams with their relentless motors. Heart and effort combined with elite skill equals future superstars.
Sergio Perkovic and Kristaps Porzingis
These guys could pass as brothers. Beyond the looks, the two big men have similar playing styles. Both are very athletic for their stature and use a combination of size and skill to win their matchups. Along with taking it to the rack, Perkovic and Porzingis have the ability to hit from the outside. The dual-threat makes them very tough covers.
Michael Ehrhardt and Giannis Anteokounmpo
The theme of this combo is freaks. Both athletes are freaks in their respective sport. Ehrhardt is not your traditional pole. He may be the most versatile player in the league and the same goes for Giannis. Both are elite defenders and offensive threats. Greek Gods.
Jarrod Neumann and Joel Embiid
All-Pro defensemen that can pull up from range. Neumann and Embiid are two of the best at preventing guys from scoring. They are tall, lanky and athletic. Once they create turnovers, don’t let these two get lost in transition. They both trail the ball and can unleash from distance.