NBA, Playground / Jul 29, 2011 / 11:00 am

NBA’s Best Playground Players

Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose (photo. Chad Griffith)

The summer is always a great time to catch a run. If you’re a player, you can head down to the Y or hit up a local park, and if you’re anywhere that has decent high school or college action, you can find a game. In the summer, everyone’s home from school or everyone’s vacationing or visiting. You can renew old high school rivalries, light the fire for new ones or rev up your engines for the following season if you’re fortunate enough to still be playing for real.

NBA guys do the same things, and maybe it’s just because of the growth of places like Hoopmixtape that we get to see so much more of it, but it feels like the interaction between pros and amateurs is growing. They know to build a rep, they gotta run the streets as well. People will respect you more.

With the lockout, that movement is larger than ever. Nearly every day another video arises with someone like John Wall shutting down a neighborhood gym. And as you’ve probably seen so far this summer, we are everywhere, highlighting every major summer league/pro-am/pickup run that you’ve either heard about or didn’t.

It was Big Island today in Smack who was talking about that team on the playground who won’t run with anyone besides themselves. They are like a tripod. It’s the same way in a college gym: the team shows up, noses stuck out thinking there’s no way they aren’t the best players in there and then refuse to divvy up their players, even if they get beat or even if it’s easier.

As annoying as that is if you’re on the other side, if you’re on it, and actually running people off the floor, there’s nothing better.

With no NBA season, and with more emphasis on the summer runs than ever, what if NBA guys did this? Groups of fives come together and just start touring the country, grabbing next up at West 4th, then heading down to Goodman, then flying out to the Drew League and waiting their turn, and on and on…almost like an AND1 Tour except it would be real ball.

Would you want to see that? Better yet, who would be the best team you could possible make? When I originally came up with this idea, here was my five:

Derrick Rose (or Steve Nash), Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett & Dwight Howard

Kinda boring right? Everyone’s team would basically be the best players in the league, or at least most of them. It’s only natural. So what if we switched up the restrictions and said you had to choose one player who was an All-Star last year, and then at least one guy who didn’t start on his own team and fill out the last three spots with just decent players? You know, kinda like what you’ll find on any playground anyways: one kid who can really play, someone else who is pretty good, a dude who isn’t very good, but will play team ball and will always look to pass, and then a couple of dudes who can’t control themselves and are all over the court like it’s football. That would be real.

With that, my squad becomes:

My star: Derrick Rose (would be too athletic and big for most guards…will pass it…my other guys will really have fun playing with him…I figure he will show up on time and not make some stupid dramatic entrance…and I know he’ll get a good shot if it’s game point)
My Robin: Nick Young (seems to be destined to play in this…in a less-restrictive game, he would score buckets…he’ll be our crowd pleaser so we can attract a following and feel at home anywhere we play)
My boy who is better than he looks: Zaza Pachulia (the one crazy guy…the perfect 5th man…answer this one question: would you like playing against him? No way…he’d work hard and get all those points under the hoop whenever people get lazy and don’t completely hit the glass and start leaking out…the perfect “looks like he can’t play, but we discover later he was the reason why we won” player)
The psychos/should be playing football: Matt Barnes (the other crazy guy you’d need…throwing elbows all over the place, but doing it in a smart/timely fashion so people get nervous coming down the lane) & Anthony Tolliver (needed one solid all-around player to fill out the team…he can do a little of everything, depending on who we are playing…shoot, handle the ball a little, play defense, pass and then hack anyone whenever it’s absolutely necessary)

*I tried to find a spot for Will Bynum because he’s such a beast on the playground, but alas there is no room. Will the Thrill will be my alternate.

Would that team get Ws all over the nation? I think so. We are bigger than you think, can shoot better than you think and are tougher than you think. People will watch us and put all their attention on my backcourt, and then forget about guys like Tolliver and Zaza.

I’m about to make some calls to their reps. Let’s make this happen.

Who would be your five? Following the rules of course…

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  • http://www.dimemag.com Dylan Murphy

    John Wall
    Keith Bogans
    Jamal Crawford
    Big Baby
    Robin Lopez

  • hahn

    anthony tolliver…?

    wes johnson
    jeremy lin!

  • VCsuxA$$

    If I wanna win? I roll with this team:
    Kevin Durant
    Shane Battier
    Amir Johnson
    Kendrick Perkins
    Mike Conley

    If I wanna make kids look stupid? I roll with this team:
    Russel Westbrook
    Jamal Crawford
    DeAndre Jordan
    Tony Allen (or Trevor Ariza)
    Joel Anthony

  • VCsuxA$$

    *RusseLL Westbrook

  • http://theswamp.wordpress.com Andrew Macaluso

    The “Flashy” All-Stars:
    Russell Westbrook
    Kobe Bryant
    Kevin Durant
    Blake Griffin
    Dwight Howard

    “When It’s Time To Shut The Club Down” Reserves:
    Rajon Rondo
    DeMar DeRozan
    Carmelo Anthony
    Zach Randolph
    Kendrick Perkins

    … Game Over

  • Big Island

    In a playground game, asphalt (sorry Kobe’s knees) am rolling with:


    It’s over, check please.

  • Steve

    Star – Dwight Howard
    Robin – Jesus Shuttlesworth
    Boy who is better than he looks – Nash (aka Billy Hoyle)
    Psycho 1 – Serge Ibaka
    Psycho 2 – Mike Beasley


  • dbo

    Brandon Jennings
    Shannon Brown
    Taj Gibson
    Blake Griffin
    Cole Aldrich

  • P

    Rondo Manu iggy Dirk McGee

  • P

    Monta tyreke batum Odom bogut

  • TJ 2

    Deandre Jordan
    shane battier
    “the air up there”

  • dbo

    Brandon Jennings
    Shannon Brown
    Taj Gibson (Trevor Ariza)
    Blake Griffin
    Marcin Gortat

  • Rod

    My team..

    The Star: K.D.
    The Robin: Marcus Thornton
    Guy who is better than he looks: Jeremy Lin aka Yung Harvard
    The psychos: Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts aka The Bash Brothers

  • P

    aaron Brooks Nick young LBJ Marc gasol Brandon bass

  • NY4L

    i think nash would scare guys, i feel like he would be the guy that gets his nose broken, or dislocates a shoulders and keep playing like nothing is wrong….i always worry about those guys.

  • rickdaruler



  • Ben1en

    Star – Chris Paul (he’s been embarrassing top defenders his whole career)
    Robin – Jordan Crawford (he has streetball in his game)
    Boy who is better than he looks – J.J. Barea (people would laugh at him and then he would shake & bake)
    Psycho 1 – Ron Artest (he goes hard in summer league games)
    Psycho 2 – Marcin Gortat (the Polish Hammer would gladly give a hard foul)

  • rizer

    Star- Blake Griffin
    Robin- Monte Ellis
    Guy who is better than he looks – Jimmer Fredette
    Psycho 1- Marcin Gortat
    Psych 2 – Matt Barnes

  • beiber newz

    baron davis
    jamal crawford
    jr smith

  • fnf

    Star – Chris Paul
    Robin – Jr. Smith
    Boy who is better than he looks – Dajuan Blair
    Psycho 1 – Tyrus Thomas
    Psycho 2 – Michael Beasley
    6th Man replacing Dajuan Blair (his knees are not to be trust…): Anthony Randolph

    And the “There’s no way they win a game”:

    Star – Yao Ming
    Robin – J.J Redick
    Boy who is better than he looks – Chris Quinn
    Psycho 1 – Darko Milicic
    Psycho 2 – Von Wafer
    6h Man replacing Yao as Star- Andrea Bargnani

  • Rainman

    Give me Steve Nash as my starting PG in a playground game.

  • Rainman

    MAnu would be great too, no doubt lol

  • Armzilla40

    Star- Monta Ellis
    Robin- Tyreke Evans
    Better than he looks(pause)- Terrence Williams
    Psycho 1- Demarcus Cousins
    Psycho 2- Tyson Chandler

  • beiber newz

    i don’t think t. chandler is a psycho per-say

  • stupid

    star- KD
    robin- J. Harden
    better than he looks- Gerald Henderson
    Psychos- Tyler Hansborough and Zach Randolph

  • http://www.gofukurselves.idiots.org Chicagorilla

    likes this one. Lets see

    Team one:
    1. Derrick Rose – Star…nuff said
    2. Aaron Afflalo – Robin, gets buckets and locks down on D
    3.Etan Thomas
    4. Kurt Thomas – both Psycho’s will protect the team incase shit jumps off
    5. Jerebko from Detroit – dude who looks like he can’t play. But will dunk on u and shoot ur face off

    Alt – since the writer took Will the Thrill from me, i’ll roll with Kemba Walker. Young’n who excites and gets buckets

    Team two:
    1. Blake Griffin – star
    2. Steph Curry – Robin
    3. Delonte West – Psycho known to roll with a strap or two…nuff said
    4. Kenyon Martin – Psycho 2, whenever there is a scuffle Kenyon will make sure the team is untouched
    5. Jason Kapono – may lead the team in scoring since ppl would forget about him

    Alt – Jermaine O’Neal – seems fitting that i have 3 psycho’s rolling with this team.

  • Mandirigma

    You guys cant touch my team


  • jdizzle

    Jamal Crawford
    Monta Ellis
    DeAndre Jordan
    Psycho T
    Alt: Jeff Teague

  • D-NICE

    Baron Davis(A.K.A. Too Easy, his true nickname he earned from The Rucker)

    Jamal Crawford(Streetball handles and stupid range with an itchy trigger finger)

    Manu(Watch him play and tell me he ain’t a streetballer…will have ppl looking twice)

    Josh Smith(Will youtube suckas on both ends of the court and won’t back down)

    Blake Griffin(Fearless,intimidating high flyer…plus reunited with Baron…..needd I say more???)

  • D-NICE

    Can’t forget 6th man Jerryd Bayless(Would do serious damage with some exciting buckets and dimes)

  • https://www.sportsbetting.com.au/basketball_betting dcyrilcasa

    My five would be

    Derrick Rose
    Kevin Love
    Kenyon Martin
    Derek Fisher
    Blake Griffin

  • Kudabeen

    Star – Wade
    Can’t stop him in a playground setting…just go through you if not around you…Have the kind of game to get his shots from all angles near the paint and will be picking whoever he guards clean for break aways all day…All that and a killer who can be unselfish…Showmen

    Robin – Harden
    All the tools to be an All-Star in the right situation…very explosive underrated athlete and shooter. Slick Ball handler and great decision maker who also plays some D…

    Better Than He Look – Wilson Chandler
    I’m cheating a bit here, because I think Wilson is better than Harden, but he probably won’t ever get that kind of recognition, which is good for his game. to average 18-21ppg 5-7rpg and play great D, while still plugging some many other holes he is a great glue star.

    Wildcard 1 – DeAndre Jordan
    Super Athlete. Will be smacking shots away from the rim all day and you can just toss it up anywhere and he’ll get it. He is also down to run and an easy assist on the break…

    Wildcard 2 – AK-47
    Cagy Vet. A do it all player that is allowed to lay back out of the spot light for some reason…Figure why not have a former All-star proven defender play-maker on my team where he could be free to be his best. Shot blocking and steals and can push the break and deliver to all 4 finishers.