Since the NBA is Locked out and football is in full swing, we decided to put together our list of who we think would start on a 22-man NFL Football team consisting completely of current NBA players. We broke it down into five parts, this is the first one.
The Defensive Front Seven:
As Phil mentioned to me during one of our scouting combines, there aren’t too many NBA players with the build of an NFL Linebacker. This analysis, based on the fact that it is quite true, led us to minimize the role of the LB on our NBA Football team as a result.
We decided to implement a 4-3 defense, four down defensive lineman and three linebackers as opposed to a 3-4, and the NBA players who made our team are as follows:
Left Defensive End: Dwight Howard
Defensive Tackle: Nene
Defensive Tackle: Paul Millsap
Right Defensive End: Al Jefferson
Left Outside Linebacker: Josh Smith
Middle Linebacker: Tyler Hansbrough
Right Outside Linebacker: Metta World Peace
We expect there to be a lot of pressure coming off the ends, especially on Dwight Howard’s side, because I’m not sure anybody in the world can block Dwight Howard. Just look at how strong and nasty he is in this picture if you don’t believe me. If the opposing team somehow tried to double and triple team Dwight to slow his entry into the backfield, Howard’s plan would be to then simply step back into coverage at seven feet tall and intercept any pass the QB attempts to launch from his opposite trajectory of approximately six feet and four inches off the ground. Nene and Millsap will also create a big push up the middle too, and Al Jefferson will create similar problems on the side opposite Howard as well.
At Linebacker, we like the intensity of Psycho-T and decided to flank him with the athletic Josh Smith on one side and the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest on the other. Smith is more looked at as a pass coverage type guy, picking up TE’s and RB’s coming out in the flat, while Artest World Peace is in there to be more of a pass rusher / havoc wrecking type of player. He may get a lot of penalty flags, but we like that Peace plays close to the edge, and think he can be huge for our defense.
When this Football team of NBA’ers matches up against teams featuring smaller QB’s like Drew Brees or Mike Vick, we will implement schemes where all seven of these guys simply put their hands up on passing downs. With this line-up that goes, from left to right, 6’11” – 6’11” – 6’8″ – 6’10” across the D-Line and then 6’9″ – 6’9″ – 6’7″ at the Linebacker position, it should create some visibility issues down-field for opposing offenses. The question this group will have to answer though will be how well they are at hitting, wrapping up, and eventually tackling as a unit, but we think they will rise to that challenge and be pretty effective.
Phillip Rossman-Reich contributed to this series; tomorrow will be Part 2: The Offensive Line
Photo: Dwight Howard’s Shoulders