LJWorld.com weblogs 'Hawks in the NBA
Look-alikes? Not quite. Play-alikes? Perhaps.
We’re down to four teams in the NBA playoffs and only one — Cleveland — has a Jayhawk on its roster.
The fact that the Cavs are still alive (and rollin’), gives former Jayhawk Darnell Jackson a chance to become the first player since 1986 to win an NCAA title one season and follow it up with an NBA ring the next.
Problem is, to this point, Jackson hasn’t exactly played a huge role during the Cavs’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland, which swept its first two opponents in four games each, has rolled through the postseason without so much as a pebble posing as a roadblock. The Cavs have won every game by at least 10 points and have won several others by 20 or more.
Even still, Jackson has not hit the floor. In eight games, the former Allen Fieldhouse favorite has logged just 24 minutes in five games and has not recorded any meaningful statistics.
If any fan base understands the importance of the contributions from the non-super stars, it’s KU’s. With that in mind, there’s no doubt that Jackson has put his thumb print on the Cavs’ run. But that, most likely, has come from pushing people in practice and playing the part of scout team standout.
With Jackson in as the only Jayhawk still playing, here’s a look at the starting lineups for the four teams still alive. After the name of each starter (and one “super sub”) we’ll compare that player to the former (or current) Jayhawk he reminds us of.
Be sure to chime in below if we’ve missed one or if we’ve forgotten someone who’s a better fit.
Mo Williams — Russell Robinson — Pass-first point guards with the East Coast game who seem to make teammates better by being a steadying influence and making few mistakes.
Delonte West — Keith Langford — Smooth scorer, who can hit the outside jumper from time to time but is best when driving the ball to the rim. West has a better outside shot but he also has a knack for being able to finish around the rim in a creative way.
LeBron James — Not gonna go there — No school, not Duke, Carolina, Kentucky or Kansas, has seen a player like LeBron James. And it’s very likely than they never will. Even if a guy like LeBron comes around again, he won’t be going to college.
Anderson Varejao — Darrell Arthur — Varejao is skilled big man, a relentless rebounder and great passer with a soft touch. He moves in the same kind of fluid manner as Shady did during his two-year stay on Mt. Oread.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas — Eric Pauley — Like Big Z, Pauley was from another country and had range and skills not typical of big men. Ilgauskas has a much bigger body than Pauley did but, in a relative sense, they’re the same guy.
SS: Joe Smith — Nick Collison — Good offensive skills for a big man and the size and heart to be a strong rebounder. Smith’s best days (which came at Maryland) are behind him, but in his younger days, he resembled Collison in that he was always solid and reliable.
Rafer Alston — Jacque Vaughn — JV seems like the right pick here because, like Vaughn, Alston is an incredibly heady player who likes to get teammates involved but can score when necessary. Alston might be a little better all-around scorer, but their ability to run a team is nearly identical.
J.J. Redick — Jeff Boschee — Even if Redick is a little bigger, we’ll pair the ACC’s all-time leading three-point shooter with the one-time Big 12 leader.
Rashard Lewis — Julian Wright — Lewis has the better jump shot (by far) but both have that rare blend of size, length and athleticism that makes them a candidate to take over any game at the drop of a hat.
Hedo Turkoglu — Clyde Lovellette — Turkoglu was as tough as anyone to pick a player to compare him to, in large part because of that point-forward position he plays. Few guys have his combination of size and perimeter game. But here’s guessing that if the times had called for it, Lovellette could have held down the same job.
Dwight Howard — Wilt Chamberlain — Sorry. I didn’t want to do it, but Dwight Howard, when he wants to be, has the size, skills and body to be mentioned in the same breath as Chamberlain — at least for this blog. If anything, Howard is more of a physical specimen than Wilt was. Incredible.
SS: Courtney Lee — Mario Chalmers — Lee is a high-energy player with a deadly outside shot and good enough size and length to be a defensive nightmare.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Derek Fisher — Aaron Miles — An underrated outside shot, a hard-working defender, a ferocious competitor and the kind of guy who’s a calming influence on the rest of his teammates.
Kobe Bryant — Danny Manning — If Kobe’s one of the best players in Lakers history (and you’re crazy if you think otherwise), then it’s only fair to compare him, as a basketball player, to the greatest Jayhawk of all-time. It’s a stretch because they don’t play the same position, but I’d give Kobe a shot in the post and Manning a chance on the perimeter. Besides, if it’s not Danny here, who else is it?
Trevor Ariza — BJ Williams — Most of the time, Ariza is far more aggressive than Williams ever dreamed of being. But from body type to personality all the way down to all-around game, these two are peas in a pod.
Pau Gasol — Raef LaFrentz — Go figure, Raef even has a foreign-sounding name. Like Pau, Raef was incredibly athletic for a big man. Both possess decent outside jumpers and the ability to control the paint on both ends.
Andrew Bynum — Wayne Simien — Because Bynum hasn’t done enough yet to earn the honor of being compared to Manning, we’ll go with Simien here. Like Big Dub, Bynum has a smooth game for such a big man. Soft hands, good feet and decent skills away from the basket as well as at the rim.
SS: Lamar Odom — Drew Gooden — Long, lean and happy to shoot, pass, rebound and laugh any time.
Chauncey Billups — Sherron Collins — Really the only KU point guard to blend size, strength and skill into a package like that of Billups. The former Colorado star certainly has the height advantage here, but his quickness, strength, shooting ability and confidence make this a good comparison.
Dahntay Jones — Brandon Rush — Rush has the better all-around offensive game but both are known as defensive stoppers and have athletic builds and the ability to throw down highlight-reel dunks.
Carmelo Anthony — Paul Pierce — Melo, like Pierce, has that big frame that he mixes with a fair amount of athleticism and a deft shooting touch to become one heck of a ballplayer. Melo might have a better inside game, but Pierce might be better on the perimeter. Either way, this is pretty spot on.
Kenyon Martin — Darrin Hancock — Martin has a little muscle on Hancock, but they’re near equals in terms of explosive dunking ability. Like K-Mart, Hancock always loved to throw one down. Like Hancock, Martin’s spent his share of time on the shelf with injuries. It’s a bit of a stretch because they don’t play the same position, but I think a case can be made.
Nene — Jeff Graves — A big body with monster rebounding ability and a surprisingly quick and effective offensive game. They both even sport dreads.
SS: J.R. Smith — J.R. Giddens — Like it or not, like him or not, this one’s too easy. Even the name’s the same. Smith, like Giddens, has great range, incredible athleticism and a fiery personality.
There you have it, a unique look at the four remaining NBA teams vying for this year’s title.
With the rosters filled in, there’s only one question left to ask: Based on these lineups, which team would win the title?