When we watch the NBA, we develop a fandom for players. If you are a fan of a particular team, then you develop some love for your favorite players. If you follow the league, that love spreads to numerous players even if they don’t suit up for your favorite franchise. That’s the beauty of the league. If you have a game that is worth respecting, you are going to get it from fans across the world.
That goes the other way as well. Sometimes a player’s game causes fans to not like a certain player. The same goes if their personality collides with one’s beliefs. From in-game antics to fiery tempers, some players in the league are much more hated than others.
If we took the most loved and hated players in the league and put them on two respective teams, who would win? Let’s take a look at the All-Love vs. All-Hated matchup we are all dying to see.
All-Loved Team: Derrick Rose, Alex Caruso, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo
All-Hated Team: Patrick Beverley, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gobert
The All-Loved team features three players with Chicago Bulls ties. Derrick Rose is extremely loved by the NBA fanbase as he is regarded as one of the best comeback stories in the league. Klay Thompson is going through a similar situation right now. DeMar DeRozan is the poster child for career resurgence with the Bulls, while his teammate Alex Caruso is known for hustle and work ethic. As for Giannis, the “Greek Freak” led Milwaukee to its first championship in 50 years this past season. What’s not to love?
As for the All-Hated Team, Beverley has been regarded as one of the biggest pests on defense. Along with his boisterous attitude, it doesn’t do him any favors. Russell Westbrook is in the same boat when it comes to his tenacious style. Ben Simmons has been taking a villain role after not playing one game this season. Kevin Durant took on a villain role when he left the Thunder for the Warriors and hasn’t looked back. Finally, Rudy Gobert didn’t do himself any favors when he was diagnosed with COVID, but his overall defense is hated because he is so good.
Derrick Rose vs. Patrick Beverley
Rose was the 2011 MVP, which he won at the youngest age ever of 22 years old. The following year, Rose suffered a career-altering knee injury, which was followed up by other setbacks. If you go back and watch an old tape of Rose, he was the most explosive athlete in the building that could make amazing dunks and floaters. Since coming back and resurrecting his career with the Pistons and Knicks, fans have pulled for Rose to succeed these days.
As for Beverley, he won All-Defensive First Team with the Rockets in 2017, which was the first time since Scottie Pippen did in 1999. You don’t win an award for top defense in the league without ruffling a few feathers. Beverley has never shied away from a challenge or an opportunity to speak the truth. That has resulted in personality clashes with players and fans.
Alex Caruso vs. Russell Westbrook
When Caruso played for the Lakers, fans loved his hustle. Caruso was making defensive steals that turned into highlight-reel dunks. He went from a no-name to a contributor on a championship team. Last year, the Lakers could have re-signed him, but instead elected to let him leave in free agency to take a chance on Russell Westbrook.
Caruso is getting even more love in Chicago, while Westbrook is losing his. The Lakers are hovering around .500, so fans are calling him to be traded again. Outside of the current play, Westbrook has always had a tenacious attitude. He has always been honest in the media, even if that meant coming off in a certain way.
Klay Thompson vs. Ben Simmons
Even with the Golden State Warriors making the NBA Finals for the fifth year in a row, there weren’t a lot of feelings that Thompson was not loved. Both Steph Curry and Thompson formed the “Splash Bros,” which might go down as one of the coolest names in NBA history. When Thompson lost the last two years of playing time due to injuries, the world was cheering him on. Now that he is back healthy, he is loved more than ever.
A lot of the hate towards Ben Simmons has been because of the way he has handled his situation of not playing. Even with that situation on the table, there were probably fans that were frustrated with Simmons in Philly. Simmons is a terrible three-point shooter and has hovered around 60% shooting at the free-throw line. When Simmons passed on an open dunk in the playoffs, it sealed his fate as a hated player in the area.
DeMar DeRozan vs. Kevin Durant
DeMar DeRozan led the Toronto Raptors as the all-time leading scorer in franchise history. Then, he was traded to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, which led to a championship in his only season. DeRozan then kept the Spurs relevant for a few more years. Now, he looks like an MVP candidate with the Bulls. Throw in the fact that DeRozan is open about having depression, he is a very loved player in this league.
It’s the complete opposite for Durant. DeRozan didn’t want to leave Toronto. He was forced out. Durant chose to leave the Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016, a team that had won 73 games the season prior. Then, Durant won two Finals MVPs with his new team. Durant failed to lead the Thunder to a title on his own, so he has been hated ever since for joining a championship team to win his two rings.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Rudy Gobert
Remember when Giannis ordered 50 chicken nuggets to celebrate the Bucks winning the NBA championship? It was something so small, but so appealing to the common fan, that you couldn’t help yourself but love him. Giannis scored 50 points in the Game 6 clincher to lead the Bucks to their first championship since 1971 last year. Giannis is also a true success story after being a mid-first round pick that turned into a two-time MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.
When it comes to Gobert, he is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. With success, there are going to be those who are jealous, which can result in hate. Another part could be how he handled the COVID-19 pandemic in its early stages. When he rubbed the mic and acted like it wasn’t real, that rubbed people the wrong way, especially after Donovan Mitchell contracted it. In the past, Gobert has been notorious for arguing calls as well. From play to personality, Gobert just isn’t very well-liked.
The guard play that this team has is stellar. Rose is one of the better players at getting to the rim, while Thompson is one of the best outside shooters. Caruso brings an all-around game to the table that also includes defensive intensity. As for DeRozan, his midrange game is unstoppable these days, so you are looking at four guards that can cover each element on the floor to bring an overall team aspect to the court.
As for the middle, Giannis can do everything. Because he can run the floor like a guard, he will open up more opportunities for the shooters on the floor. He is also an unstoppable force inside the paint. This group has nearly every box checked when it comes to everything you would want in a competitive team.
The defense could be very good with this lineup. Despite Westbrook never owning an All-Defensive Team appearance, he has always hustled and made it tough for opposing players. Beverley is a former All-Defensive player, so the combination of these two on the opposing guards would be tough to handle just in itself.
Combine that with two very proven defensive players, and you have to wonder how low the score could be. Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year that is in contention for his fourth selection this season. He is the ultimate defensive rebounder and you will need that against a player like Giannis. As for Simmons, he was the runner-up in the DPOY voting last season. He could be used to guard multiple positions.
Who Wins A Seven Game Series?
The All-Hated team would put a sour taste in the spectators by getting a Game 1 victory. The team would stifle the All-Love Team with a smothering defense. Simmons holds Thompson to 2-of-11 shooting and the whole team shoots less than 20% from outside. They finished the game with a 100-79 victory with Giannis leading the team with 30 points.
In the second game, the All-Loved team gets back on track by adjusting by pulling Giannis out of the post and running a “small ball” lineup. With Giannis penetrating the lane more frequently, this opened up more opportunities for both Thompson and DeRozan, who both scored 30 points in a 112-105 victory. The following game would work out for the All-Loved squad as Simmons would try to help with Giannis on the drives, but this time Rose adds 25 points to help with the 30-point scoring. All-Loved would prevail by a score of 98-90 as the team would slow down Durant to just 16 points.
The All-Hated team would find their groove back in the fourth game of the series. The team is better on paper and both Westbrook and Durant know that. They would revert to their vintage versions of themselves while playing for the Thunder. Westbrook would come up short with a triple-double, but his 16 assists, including 12 specifically to Durant, puts the entire arena into a frenzy as the All-Hated team wins 103-91.
The following game would come down to the wire. Going into the final five seconds, both teams would sit with a tied score of 98-all. Durant and Thompson go back and forth with their shooting, while both Giannis and Gobert display one of the best defensive efforts we have seen in a long time with both players totaling 10 blocks each. The All-Hated squad has the last possession and Durant solidifies his villain status by knocking down the game-winning shot.
To avoid elimination, the All-Loved team gets back to the drawing board. The team plays patiently and milks the shot clock down. There is not a lot of offense in this, but the team uses smart shots. The midrange assassin DeRozan scores 36 points, Giannis adds a triple-double of 16 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 blocks, while Caruso scores 16 points off of seven steals. The tight defensive ship prevails as All-Loved ties the series with an 89-85 hard-fought win.
In the end, it all comes down to the final game. The trash talk is at its peak with Beverley doing everything he can do to get into the heads of the All-Loved team. The talk doesn’t matter because the All-Loved team steps up in the biggest way. In the final stretches of a 90-90 all battle, it’s your unlikely hero in Caruso stepping up to big a huge outside shot. Westbrook tries to create a shot quickly in transition but turns the ball over. None other than Caruso picks up the steal and lobs a pass to Giannis, who thunderously throws it down for his 45th point of the night. The clock runs out and the All-Loved team is loved even more than ever.
Series Result: All-Loved vs. All-Hated 4-3
Series MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo