There are always some players that come to mind when you think of a jersey number. It’s something we just can’t help after watching them dominate for that many years.
People from all over the world wear the jerseys of their favorite players with pride. Either if they’re hooping or not, it’s just a way to pay respect to the guy that makes them turn on the TV and watch them play.
But what would happen if the players that wore a given number had to face a team consisting of players with another number? Who would come on top if the best number 13s square off vs. the best number 33s? Let’s break it down.
Point Guard: Steve Nash vs. Danny Granger
Well, it’s pretty clear that Danny Granger is by no means a point guard but in this case, we’d have this matchup between him and Steve Nash. Needless to say, Granger is a much better defender than Nash but the Canadian will still have a huge edge over him in the playmaking duties.
Luckily for Granger, team 33 features various players capable of running the offense so they could take some pressure off of his shoulders. Danny is a much more versatile scorer than Nash, but Steve is vastly more efficient and has one of the highest basketball IQs the league has ever seen.
All things considered, we have to give the nod to Steve Nash on this matchup. He’s quicker, savvier, more efficient, and just overall a better player. There’s a reason why he’s one of the greatest point guards to ever live.
Shooting Guard: Paul George vs. Larry Bird
We’ve got a matchup for the ages here. It’s pretty safe to assume that Larry Bird’s game would translate perfectly to modern basketball. He was Kevin Durant before Kevin Durant, a guy that could put the ball on the floor and efficiently score from all three levels.
This time, he’d had to face Paul George’s suffocating wing defense. But make no mistake, PG-13 is also more than capable of putting a great stopper like Bird on skates. He’s got the full package and is stronger and more athletic than Larry Legend.
The beauty of this matchup relies on the fact that both Bird and George are incredibly gifted on both ends of the floor. Even so, I think Bird would end up on top if they had to face each other. He’s more clutch, smarter, and more versatile.
Small Forward: James Harden vs. Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen once said he knew how to clamp James Harden so this would be the perfect opportunity to prove it. He’s one of the greatest defenders of all time and he lockdown the greatest scorers of his era, but Harden is quite different.
James Harden is the most unstoppable scorer in modern basketball. He can find many ways to hurt you even if you take away his left hand as most defenders do. He can finish with both hands, draw contact, and step back from way beyond the three-point line.
Even so, this matchup would mostly depend on the rules. If Scottie can hand-check him, he’ll be in trouble. If not, Harden could have an easier way. Still, Pippen wouldn’t mind not taking a single shot on this game if that meant completely locking Harden up.
Power Forward: Bam Adebayo vs. Patrick Ewing
Ok, this matchup just isn’t fair, at all. I mean, Bam Adebayo is one of the league’s surging talents and he’s quite big and strong as to deal with the physical burden of being an NBA center, but he’s never had to play vs. a guy like Patrick Ewing.
It seems like we don’t talk about Patrick Ewing enough nowadays and that’s because Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon prevented him from winning a Championship. Still, strength-wise and talent-wise, not many big men in the history of the game could contain him.
Adebayo is a very good playmaker and ballhandler for a center but he’d had a lot of trouble putting the ball on the floor with Ewing looming around. Bam may be a better rim protector but Ewing was just stronger, more athletic, and way more talented.
Center: Wilt Chamberlain vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
It feels like we’re tied 2-2 here so this spot will be the tie-breaker. And we couldn’t expect a better matchup than Wilt Chamberlain vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the two best big men of their time and two of the five best centers to ever lace them up.
Wilt Chamberlain is perhaps the greatest athlete ever. He could dominate every single one of his rivals on both ends of the floor with his strength, athleticism, hops, and wingspan. Then again, this time he’d have to go at it vs. the ultimate pupil and the all-time leading scorer in NBA history.
There were plenty of similarities between these two. Wilt was stronger and more athletic but Kareem was smarter and had a better overall game, as he didn’t rely solely on his physical traits. This one’s a close one but this time, I think Kareem gets the nod.
We’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever set foot on a basketball hardwood so it’s not going to be easy to find out who’s going to win. It’ll all depend on matchups more than talent.
So, if we were to take a look at the big picture, Team 33 would have the upper hand in terms of defense. Bird, Pippen, Ewing, and Kareem could all play lockdown defense and have the physical and athletic advantage over their Team 13 counterparts.
Still, Team 13 has one of the best point guards in the history of the game pulling the strings of their offense. He’d know how to make everybody around him better and get them the ball when they need them to do more damage.
Team 13 has more offensive talent and that’s undeniable. They could run a fast-paced offense with a lot of space that could put Team 33 in a lot of trouble. Only Granger and Bird are efficient three-point shooters, while Team 13 has Nash, George, and Harden.
This would definitely be a matchup for the ages. But if Team 33 manages to slow down the pace of the game and establish their defense, there aren’t many teams on earth that could get past them, not even Team 13, and that’s why we think they’d end up on top.
Team 13 vs. Team 33 95-100