Aliens Have Challenged Ultimate Hoops. Here's Our Starting Five.
Here’s the scenario: Aliens have come to Earth and want to challenge our best basketball team in a game to determine the fate of each species. The loser must serve the other species for eternity, so the stakes are high.
It’s like Space Jam, except the aliens have been playing basketball for years; they don’t need to steal anyone’s talent. This is a concept that Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan came up with in a column in 2011, trying to determine the best player to lead your team in a one-game scenario (Bill Walton was his pick).
The Ringer's Bill Simmons has used it many times as well to try and determine the best player in the league/best player of all time.
The aliens have put together a competitive rec league and their championship team has come to Earth looking for a challenge. They want the best starting five Ultimate Hoops has to offer, in a winner-take-all game for the fate of our species.
Here’s who I’m putting on the court.
If you’re in need of a dominant Ultimate Hoops player, the starting point has to be the first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.
In Kyles’ 258 career Ultimate Hoops games, there haven’t been many where he wasn’t the best player on the floor. Whether he’s playing against some of the best players in Minnesota in St. Louis Park, or going head-to-head with Josh Childress in the National Tournament, Kyles always gives his team a chance to win. That’s what won him back-to-back national titles in 2012 and 2013, along with two tournament MVP’s.
Anyone that has watched Kyles knows how he likes to play: Get your teammates involved early and often, then decide when it’s winning-time and take over.
If the fate of humanity came down to an Ultimate Hoops basketball game, there’s no one else I’d rather have running my offense than Kyles.
With a backcourt of Kyles and Crockrell, you can fill out the team with three players with my basketball skills and this team would still have a chance. The Las Vegas National Tournament is the pinnacle of competition in Ultimate Hoops, and three years in a row Crockrell has proven that he’s the best player UH has to offer. He’s played in 24 National Tournament games, and he’s won 22 of them.
Nobody has a quicker first step than Crockrell, making it easy for him to blow by bigger defenders, and despite being 6’1, he can torch smaller defenders because of the crazy lift he gets on his jump shot, making it easy for him to shoot over guards.
This backcourt has combined to win five of the last seven National Tournament MVP’s, and they are the cornerstone of the team that’s going to save humanity.
A smaller lineup is shaking up, but the amount of talent more than makes up for it. Hedrick adds versatility to the team and is an immense help on defense when it comes to switching. Kyles and Hedrick combine to be the MJ and Scottie of this team defensively, shutting down any guards or wings the aliens bring to Earth.
While some have trashed UH Arizona for a lack of defense, that’s never been the case for Hedrick. In his UH career, he’s averaged 3.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game. He’s far from a minus on offense either, as he averaged 25 points per game while shooting 54 percent from the field in the National Tournament this year.
This combination of guards and wings all bring the ability to shoot from the outside – the three have combined to shoot 40.33 percent from deep in their careers – as well as elite shot-creating skills.
We have an interchangeable lineup perfect for today’s game, but we need to bring in someone willing to play old school.
Junkyard Dog brings size and tenacity to this smaller lineup to clean up the glass and provide hard-nosed post defense. The aliens that are coming to play have most-likely done a plethora of drills designed to make them experts at shooting, dribbling, passing and everything else required to become an elite basketball player. That’s all useful, but you can’t practice grit, meaning they won’t be able to handle 44 minutes in the dog pound.
JYD controls the glass, sets brick-wall screens, takes charges and will end up on the floor at least 12 times in this game (my official over/under is 13.5). He also brings the veteran presence to a running-time game and will take 15 seconds per free throw to slow down the game down when the humans have the lead.
His size, rebounding ability, effort and leadership all immensely help this squad.
It’s only fitting to round out the starting five with someone who might actually be an alien.
When the aliens land and see Pichon throwing down vicious dunks where his neck is almost hitting the rim, they’ll likely test his blood before the game. When he is proven to be one of us, he’ll completely destroy any life form that gets in his way to the hoop.
I’ve already seen him do it to multiple humans, so if the fate of humanity is on the line, I can’t imagine the damage he would do to some aliens. Pichon has made my jaw drop more than any player in the past couple National Tournaments because of his self-esteem reducing blocks, and his earthquake-inducing dunks. He puts up Shaq-like stats and he’s led the National Tournament in PPR the past two tournaments (35.3 in 2018, 29.8 in 2017).
In seven national tournament games, Pichon has averaged 24 points, 12.6 rebounds and shot 69 percent from the field. Pichon and JYD dominate the offensive glass to kick out to any of the three shooters waiting on the arc. On defense, those two block so many shots that the balls need to inflated at halftime.