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64-Player One-on-One NBA Legends vs Today's Stars Tourney: Small Forward Edition

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIJanuary 3, 2017

64-Player One-on-One NBA Legends vs Today's Stars Tourney: Small Forward Edition

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    It's that time of the week.  Time for another 64-player one-on-one tournament for the ages, that pits all-time great and current All-Star small forwards against each other. 

    What we have here is a tournament that matches 32 NBA legends at the small forward position against 32 NBA current small forward stars, with the style of the tournament mirroring the exact setup of the NCAA March Madness tournament.  

    This classic tournament provides fans with matchups we've dreamed of seeing, like LeBron James vs. Larry Bird, Kevin Durant vs. Julius Erving, Paul Pierce vs. Jon Havlicek and many, many more. 

    The legends and the current stars are split up into regional brackets based on the individual players' rankings that you will find in the next slide.

    Get ready for an epic tournament that's bound to cause some controversy.  

How the Players Were Seeded

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    The NBA legends and NBA current stars were separated into 32-player pools, where they were ranked from No. 1 to 32.

    Based on those rankings, I picked one legend, then one current star, then one legend, then one current star, and the rest of the selection process followed that form until the entire bracket was filled.

    Here are both the rankings of the NBA legends and the stars of today:

    32-Player NBA Legend Rankings

    1. Larry Bird
    2. Julius Erving
    3. Jon Havlicek
    4. Elgin Baylor
    5. Rick Barry
    6. Scottie Pippen
    7. James Worthy
    8. Dominique Wilkins
    9. Alex English
    10. Adrian Dantley
    11. Bernard King
    12. Robert Horry
    13. Chris Mullins
    14. Paul Arizin
    15. Dan Majerle
    16. Kiki Vandeweghe
    17. Mark Aguirre
    18. David Thompson
    19. Cliff Hagan
    20. Glen Rice
    21. Bruce Bowen
    22. Larry Johnson
    23. Jamal Mashburn
    24. James Posey
    25. Rick Fox
    26. Jamaal Wilkes
    27. Jerry Stackhouse
    28. Peja Stojakovic
    29. Tracy McGrady
    30. Eddie Johnson
    31. Reggie Lewis
    32. Jack Twyman

    32-Player Current NBA Stars Rankings

    1. LeBron James
    2. Kevin Durant
    3. Carmelo Anthony
    4. Danny Granger
    5. Paul Pierce
    6. Rudy Gay
    7. Luol Deng
    8. Andre Iguodala
    9. Shawn Marrion
    10. Michael Beasley
    11. Ron Artest
    12. Danillo Gallinari
    13. Nicolas Batum
    14. Andrei Kirilenko
    15. Hedo Turkoglu
    16. Dorrell Wright
    17. Grant Hill
    18. Trevor Ariza
    19. Tayshaun Prince
    20. Richard Jefferson
    21. Kawhi Leonard
    22. Jared Dudley
    23. Caron Butler
    24. Marvin Williams
    25. Matt Barnes
    26. Chase Budinger
    27. James Johnson
    28. Ryan Gomes
    29. Steve Novak
    30. Corey Maggette
    31. Shane Battier
    32. Kyle Korver


How the Tournament Works: Rules

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    Sorry, LeBron, there won't be refs in this tournament to help bail you out.

    Here are the official game rules for the NBA legends vs. NBA current stars one-on-one tournament:  

    1. Game is to 25 points. A player must win by two points.
    2. All shots are worth one point (like any true one-on-one game).
    3. Fouls are called by the defender and result in a change of possession.
    4. Shot clock is set at 24 seconds.
    5. All defensive rebounds that aren't air balls must be taken back past the three-point line.
    6. Game is "make-it take-it" rules.  

    Now that the official rules have been set, let's move on to the player seedings.

    Remember, this is about players in a one-on-one situation, not a ranking of greatest small forwards in NBA history.

North Division Seeding Matchup

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    North Division Seeding

    No. 1 Larry Bird
    No. 2 Carmelo Anthony 
    No. 3 Rick Barry 
    No. 4 Luol Deng
    No. 5 Alex English
    No. 6 Ron Artest
    No. 7 Chris Mullins
    No. 8 Hedo Turkoglu
    No. 9 Mark Agguire
    No. 10 Tayshaun Prince
    No. 11 Larry Johnson
    No. 12 Caron Butler
    No. 13 Rick Fox
    No. 14 James Johnson
    No. 15 Tracy McGrady 
    No. 16 Shane Battier 

     

    First-Round North Division Matchups

    No. 1 Larry Bird vs. No. 16 Shane Battier
    No. 2 Carmelo Anthony vs. No. 15 Tracy McGrady
    No. 3 Ricky Barry vs. No. 14 James Johnson
    No. 4 Luol Deng vs. No. 13 Rick Fox
    No. 5 Alex English vs. No. 12 Caron Butler
    No. 6 Ron Artest vs. No. 11 Larry Johnson
    No. 7 Chris Mullins vs. No. 10 Tayshaun Prince
    No. 8 Hedo Turkoglu vs. No. 9 Mark Agguire 

South Division Seeding Matchup

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    South Division Seeding

    No. 1 LeBron James
    No. 2 Jon Havlicek 
    No. 3 Paul Pierce
    No. 4 James Worthy 
    No. 5 Shawn Marion 
    No. 6 Bernard King
    No. 7 Nicolas Batum
    No. 8 Dan Majerle 
    No. 9 Grant Hill 
    No. 10 Cliff Hagan 
    No. 11 Kawhi Leonard 
    No. 12 Jamal Mashburn 
    No. 13 Matt Barnes
    No. 14 Jerry Stackhouse
    No. 15 Corey Maggette 
    No. 16 Reggie Lewis 

     

    First-Round South Division Matchups

    No. 1 LeBron James vs. No. 16 Reggie Lewis
    No. 2 Jon Havlicek vs. No. 15 Corey Maggette
    No. 3 Paul Pierce vs. No. 14 Jerry Stackhouse
    No. 4 James Worthy vs. No. 13 Matt Barnes
    No. 5 Shawn Marion vs. No. 12 Jamal Mashburn
    No. 6 Bernard King vs. No. 11 Kawhi Leonard 
    No. 7 Nicolas Batum vs. No. 10 Cliff Hagan
    No. 8 Brook Lopez vs. No. 9 Grant Hill 

East Division Seeding Matchup

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    East Division Seeding

    No. 1 Julius Erving
    No. 2 Danny Granger
    No. 3 Scottie Pippen 
    No. 4 Andre Iguodala
    No. 5 Adrian Dantley
    No. 6 Danilo Gallinari 
    No. 7 Paul Arizin 
    No. 8 Dorell Wright
    No. 9 David Thompson
    No. 10 Richard Jefferson
    No. 11 Bruce Bowen
    No. 12 Marvin Williams
    No. 13 Jamaal Wilkes
    No. 14 Ryan Gomes
    No. 15 Eddie Johnson
    No. 16 Kyle Korver 

     

    First-Round East Division Matchups

    No. 1 Julius Erving vs. No. 16 Kyle Korver
    No. 2 Danny Granger vs. No. 15 Eddie Johnson
    No. 3 Scottie Pippen vs. No. 14 Ryan Gomes
    No. 4 Andre Iguodala vs. No. 13 Jamaal Wilkes
    No. 5 Adrian Dantley vs. No. 12 Marvin Williams 
    No. 6 Danilo Gallinari vs. No. 11 Bruce Bowen
    No. 7 Paul Arizin vs. No. 10 Richard Jefferson
    No. 8 Dorell Wright vs. No. 9 David Thompson

West Division Seeding Matchup

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    West Division Seeding

    No. 1 Kevin Durant
    No. 2 Elgin Baylor 
    No. 3 Rudy Gay 
    No. 4 Dominique Wilkins
    No. 5 Michael Beasley 
    No. 6 Robert Horry 
    No. 7 Andrei Kirilenko
    No. 8 Kiki Vandeweghe
    No. 9 Trevor Ariza
    No. 10 Glen Rice
    No. 11 Jared Dudley 
    No. 12 James Posey
    No. 13 Chase Budinger
    No. 14 Peja Stojakovic 
    No. 15 Steve Novak
    No. 16 Jack Twyman 

     

    First-Round West Division Matchups

    No. 1 Kevin Durant vs. No. 16 Jack Twyman
    No. 2 Elgin Baylor vs. No. 15 Steve Novak
    No. 3 Rudy Gay vs. No. 14 Peja Stojakovic 
    No. 4 Dominique Wilkins vs. No. 13 Chase Budinger 
    No. 5 Michael Beasley vs. No. 12 James Posey
    No. 6 Robert Horry vs. No. 11 Jared Dudley 
    No. 7 Andrei Kirilenko vs. No. 10 Glen Rice
    No. 8 Kiki Vandeweghe vs. No. 9 Trevor Ariza  

North Division 1st Round: No. 1 Larry Bird vs. No. 16 Shane Battier

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    Shane Battier is one of the best isolation defenders that plays the game today, but he won't be able to handle the truly fundamental offense of Larry Bird.

    "Larry legend" is one of the most efficient offensive players in the NBA, with a career PER of 23.50, and even if Battier is able to stop him a few times, there's no way that Battier will be able to get close to the 25 points he needs to to win the game.

    Bird will overwhelm Battier for the majority of this match, showing to the world that his skill-set easily translates to the world of present day basketball, and that he's ready to legitimately compete in this tournament. 

    Larry Bird 25, Shane Battier 11 

North Division 1st Round: No. 2 Carmelo Anthony vs. No. 15 Tracy McGrady

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    Carmelo Anthony and Tracy McGrady have already battled quite a few times, but they've never faced off one-on-one.  That is, until now.

    Both 'Melo and T-Mac are seriously offensive explosive players, with 'Melo averaging 24.6 points per game and T-Mac averaging 19.7 on his career.  While 'Melo is the slightly more efficient offensive player, the real difference maker in this matchup will be which player has the advantage on the defensive side of the ball, and that player is Carmelo.

    'Melo will be able to stop McGrady more times than McGrady is able to stop him, and that will ultimately help 'Melo escape this potential first-round upset.  

    Carmelo Anthony 25, Tracy McGrady 21

North Division 1st Round: No. 3 Rick Barry vs. No. 14 James Johnson

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    James Johnson stands a zero percent chance of pulling off the upset in his first-round matchup against the legendary Rick Barry.

    Barry is one of the most offensively productive players in NBA history, with a career average of 24.8 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting.  Barry will not only dominate Johnson on the offensive side of the ball, but he will also outproduce Johnson on the defensive side of the ball.

    Johnson might be able to stop Barry a few times, but there's no doubt that Barry's impressive jump-shot will be too much for Johnson to handle.  Barry will dominate this first-round matchup, proving that he's a legitimate threat in this tournament.

    Rick Barry 25, James Johnson 7 

North Division 1st Round: No. 4 Luol Deng vs. No. 13 Rick Fox

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    Luol Deng and Rick Fox are different kinds of players.  Deng is a legitimate star in the league who has a career average of 16 points per game on 46.6 percent shooting, whereas Fox is a role player with a career average of just 9.6 points on 45 percents shooting.

    If this was a battle of which player was the better role player or who has the better hair, it would undoubtedly go to Fox, but there's no doubt that in a one-on-one game Deng's versatility would help him rise to the top with relative ease.

    Deng's athleticism gives him the advantage here, as he will be able to overwhelm Fox on the defensive side of the ball, while being able to slash to the rim on offense at will.  Deng is, at times, legitimately underappreciated, and this tournament will give him the chance to earn the respect he deserves.

    Luol Deng 25, Rick Fox 12 

North Division 1st Round: No. 5 Alex English vs. No. 12 Caron Butler

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    Alex English against Caron Butler will be one of the most competitive matchups of the first round, as both players are strong and physical defenders who also know how to score the ball. 

    Butler has a legitimate size advantage here, with a 25 lb. advantage over English, but what English lacks in size he makes up for with pure finesse and polish on the offensive side of the ball.  

    While Butler is a solid player, his biggest downfall will be his inconsistency.  Butler has a career shooting percentage of just 43.9 percent, as compared to English's average of 50.7 percent.

    There's no doubt that this game will be extremely competitive, as Butler will make up for his lack of consistency with tenacity on defense. Ultimately, though, the fundamentals of English's game will be too much for Butler to handle, as English narrowly escapes this potential upset.

    Alex English 25, Caron Butler 22

North Division 1st Round: No. 6 Metta World Peace vs. No. 11 Larry Johnson

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    Metta World Peace against Larry Johnson will be an extremely physical matchup with both players banging in the paint and fighting to get out of the first round with the win.

    While Johnson's career didn't last nearly as long as it should have, there's no doubt that "grandmama" is one of the most physically dominate players to play the small forward position.

    World Peace won't just lay over and die though, as he's one of the most physical defenders to ever play the game.  This matchup will come down to which player has the more complete offensive skill set, and that player is Johnson.

    With Johnson shooting at a more efficient rate, World Peace will have a harder time stopping him than Johnson will have stopping World Peace. Ultimately, "grandmama" will prove just too physical in the paint for World Peace, as he pulls off the first upset of the first round.

    Larry Johnson 25, Metta World Peace 17

North Division 1st Round: No. 7 Chris Mullins vs. No. 10 Tayshaun Prince

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    Tayshaun Prince will give Chris Mullins a run for his money in this first-round matchup, but ultimately Mullins' jumper will be too hard to stop on a consistent basis.

    Prince, who's arguably the more athletic player, will be able to frustrate Mullins on the defensive side of the ball, and he will be able to create high-percentage opportunities in the paint, but that won't be enough to score the first-round upset.  

    Mullins, with a 50.8 percent field goal percentage, has one of the most deadly jumpers in the game, and that's what will carry him to the win here.

    Mullins will come out on top here, as Prince's inconsistency on offense will keep him from pulling off the upset and moving on to the second round.

    Chris Mullin 25, Tayshaun Prince 17 

North Division 1st Round: No. 8 Hedo Turkoglu vs. No. 9 Mark Aguirre

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    Mark Aguirre is one of the best players that you've probable never heard of.  With a career average of 20 points per game on 48.4 percent shooting, Agguire is a legitimately talented player who's never gotten the respect he's deserved.

    Unfortunately, his opportunity to get that respect will be cut short at the hands of Hedo Turkoglu.  While Turkoglu isn't the most complete offensive player, he does possess the size and range that he will need to take down Aguirre.  On the defensive side of the ball, Turkoglu's size will be too much for Aguirre to overcome, as he has a four-inch and 10 lb. advantage.

    Turkoglu's ability to stretch the court by hitting the three-ball will be a big difference maker here, as Turkoglu knocks off a potential Hall-of-Famer in Aguirre.

    Hedo Turkoglu 25, Mark Aguirre 20

South Division 1st Round: No. 1 LeBron James vs. No. 16 Reggie Lewis

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    Reggie Lewis was a solid NBA player, with an average of 17.8 points per game on 48.8 percent shooting throughout his career, but there's no doubt that LeBron will dominate every aspect of this matchup.

    LeBron has a 60 lb. size advantage over Lewis, and while Lewis might be able to score a few baskets, once LeBron gets the ball he will be nearly impassive to stop.  LeBron will get into the paint with ease, hitting high-percentage shots throughout the majority of this matchup.

    With an incredibly dominant first-round win, LeBron will prove to the world that he's ready to legitimately contend for this tournament championship, as he's one of the most complete and versatile players to ever play the game. 

    LeBron James 25, Reggie Lewis 7

South Division 1st Round: No. 2 Jon Havlicek vs. No. 15 Corey Maggette

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    Jon Havlicek is the kind of player that thrives on being able to hit mid-range jump shots, and while Corey Maggette will be able to contest his shots, he certainly won't' be able to stop him.

    Maggette has a little bit of a size advantage, which will help him stay in the game early, as he overwhelms Havlicek in the paint.  Ultimately, though, Maggette's biggest downfall will be his inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball.  Maggette will get to the rim quite a few times for easy baskets, but Havlicek's mid-range game will be too much to handle.

    Havlicek escapes this potential first-round upset by focusing on hitting jump-shots while managing to stretch the court against the stronger Maggette.

    Jon Havlicek 25, Corey Maggette 20

South Division 1st Round: No. 3 Paul Pierce vs. No. 14 Jerry Stackhouse

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    Jerry Stackhouse and Paul Pierce have battled it out a few times in their careers, but the difference in this tournament is that they don't have any other players to rely on, and that is to the benefit of Pierce more than Stackhouse.

    Pierce is the kind of player that can create space in a phone booth, as he has a seriously quick release on his jumper and he can hit a fadeaway jumper with the best of them to have ever played the game.  

    The difference maker here will be the increased efficiency that exists in Pierce's game, as over the span of both player's careers, Pierce has a four-percent advantage when it comes to shooting percentage.

    While Stackhouse is a more athletic player than Pierce, there's no doubt that Pierce's size will help him equalize that advantage.

    Paul Pierce 25, Jerry Stackhouse 18

South Division 1st Round: No. 4 James Worthy vs. No. 13 Matt Barnes

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    Here's a battle between two Lakers players that play completely different styles of games.

    James Worthy is a Hall of Fame player, with an impressive career average of 17.6 points per game on 52.1 percent shooting, whereas Matt Barnes is a defensively-minded role player, with averages of just 7.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting.

    There's no doubt that Barnes is outmatched and outclassed in this matchup, and while he might be able to stop Worthy a few times, he won't be able to score nearly enough against him.  Worthy will take down this fellow Laker rather easily with his mini-hook shot, on his way to making an appearance in the second-round of this epic tournament. 

    James Worthy 25, Matt Barnes 6

South Division 1st Round: No. 5 Shawn Marion vs. No. 12 Jamal Mashburn

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    Jamal Mashburn, with a career average of 19.1 points per game, is one of the most underappreciated players in the history of the NBA.

    While that's in large part due to his immaturity at times, and his low shooting percentage, of just 41.9 percent, he's still a solid player that has the skill set he needs to thrive in this tournament. Matching up against Shawn Marion will be a tough test, as Marion is a physical defender and a skilled offensive player as well.

    Ultimately, Mashburn's ability to hit three-pointers with more efficiency than Marion will be the difference maker in this game.  Mashburn has the athletic advantage and the isolation offensive skills that it will take to pull off this first-round upset over over Marion.

    Jamal Mashburn 25, Shawn Marion 21  

South Division 1st Round: No. 6 Bernard King vs. No. 11 Kawhi Leonard

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    Bernard King and Kawhi Leonard are two similar players, as they both play with an impressive level of athleticism that helps them stand out from other players at the small forward position.

    Although Leonard is undoubtedly a versatile player, with the ability to get to the rim at ease, while still being able to step back and hit jumpers when needed, there's no doubt that King is the more complete player here.

    With a career average of 22.5 points per game, on 51.8 percent shooting, King is one of the most consistent players to have ever played at the small forward position.

    Leonard will keep the game close with his athletic defensive skills, but he won't be able to pull of this first-round upset over King.

    Bernard King 25, Kawhi Leonard 19

South Division 1st Round: No. 7 Nicolas Batum vs. No. 10 Cliff Hagan

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    Nicolas Batum is a versatile small forward who brings a high level of athleticism and agility to the small forward position. At 6'8'' and 200 lb., Batum is a lengthy defender with the quickness he needs to take down a player like Cliff Hagan.

    The biggest difference maker in this matchup between Hagan and Batum will be Batum's athletic advantage, as Hagan won't be able to hang with him for the longevity of the match.  While Hagin is the slightly more efficient player, Batum will certainly equalize that advantage with his athleticism and versatility.

    Ultimately, Batum will pull off this first-round upset over Hagan, proving that he's a small forward to keep your eyes on in the years to come.

    Nicolas Batum 25, Cliff Hagan 20  

South Division 1st Round: No. 8 Dan Majerle vs. No. 9 Grant Hill

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    Here's a battle between two of the best Phoenix Suns players of all time, in Grant Hill and Dan Majerle, even though Hill's best days were with the Pistons.

    Majerle made his money by being a consistent threat from beyond the arc, shooting 38 percent for the span of his career.  Hill, on the other hand, is a more versatile player, with the ability to step back and hit perimeter shots, while still being able to get to the rim with a high level of physicality.

    This matchup will be interesting, as Majerle's three-point shooting will keep him in the game early on, but ultimately Hill's size and strength will be too much for Majerle to overcome.  Hill pulls off the slight upset here.

    Grant Hill 25, Dan Majerle 18 

East Division 1st Round: No. 1 Julius Erving vs. No. 16 Kyle Korver

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    Julius "Dr. J" Erving enters the tournament with a favorable first-round matchup against three-point specialist, Kyle Korver.

    Erving's athletic ability and toughness will overwhelm Korver on the offensive side of the ball, and Erving's impressive size and agility will be too much for Korver on the defensive side of the ball.  While Korver will certainly be able to hit a few long-range shots, he won't be able to get the separation he needs to stay in the game.

    Ultimately, Dr. J proves why he's considered one of the greatest to ever play the game, as his athleticism takes over this first-round matchup, and sends Korver home without anything to show for his efforts.

    Julius Erving 25, Kyle Korver 7 

East Division 1st Round: No. 2 Danny Granger vs. No. 15 Eddie Johnson

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    Eddie Johnson faces off against the No. 2 seed, Danny Granger, in a matchup that will be a much closer battle than you might think.

    Johnson is a well-sized and athletic small forward that will use his agility and strength to keep up with Granger throughout the early parts of this matchup.

    Granger's ability to slash to the rim and his ability to post-up defenders will be the difference maker in this matchup, as he will ultimately escape a possible first-round upset here.

    Danny Granger 25, Eddie Johnson 16

East Division 1st Round: No. 3 Scottie Pippen vs. No. 14 Ryan Gomes

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    Michael Jordan's wingman enters the tournament with a favorable first-round matchup against the athletic, albeit inconsistent, Ryan Gomes.

    This tournament will be Pippen's time to shine, as his offensive isolation skills will be put on display. While Gomes has a legitimate 25 lb. size advantage here, Pippen will quickly turn that into a disadvantage for him, as he will exploit his abilities as a defender out on the perimeter.

    Without Jordan, Pippen will shine, putting his mid-range game on display, alongside his ability to bang in the paint with bigger defenders.  With an impressive first-round win, Pippen will make quite a statement to the other players in this tournament.

    Scottie Pippen 25, Ryan Gomes 10

East Division 1st Round: No. 4 Andre Iguodala vs. No. 13 Jamaal Wilkes

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    Andre Iguodala and Jamaal Wilkes match up well against each other, as they are both athletic forwards with an ability to get to the rim.

    The big difference maker in this matchup will be Iguodala's strength, as he has a solid 20 lb. advantage over Wilkes that he will certainly use to his favor.  Iguodala's ability to handle the ball and create space for himself will also be a difference maker in this first-round matchup.  Wilkes will be able to hang with Iguodala, but he won't ever take the lead from him.

    Iguodala sticks true to his game and outlasts Wilkes in this matchup, as Iguodala shows why he's one of the most undervalued players in the NBA today.

    Andre Iguodala 25, Jamaal Wilkes 19

East Division 1st Round: No. 5 Adrian Dantley vs. No. 12 Marvin Williams

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    Hall-of-Famer Adrian Dantley squares off against Marvin Williams in what will be a lopsided first-round matchup.

    Dantley is one of the most efficient and productive players to have ever played the game, albeit just the small forward position.  With a career average of 24.3 points per game, on 54 percent shooting, you can see just how dominant Dantley is.  

    Williams, on the other hand, is just a solid role player so far throughout his career, and while he is athletic, he doesn't have near enough polish or finish on his offensive game to hang with Dantley.

    Dantley will easily overwhelm Williams in this first-round matchup, proving that he's a legitimate dark horse in this tournament.

    Adrian Dantley 25, Marvin Williams 9

East Division 1st Round: No. 6 Danilo Gallinari vs. No. 11 Bruce Bowen

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    Danilo Galllinari against Bruce Bowen will be an absolute battle, as it pits an oversized small forward against one of the best defenders to ever play the game.

    At 6'10'' and 225 lb., Gallinari is a pretty large small forward, even when compared to the 6'7'' and 185 Bowen.  

    While Bowen's defensive abilities will make it a long night for Gallinari, there's no getting around the fact that Bowen just doesn't have the offensive skill he needs to win in a one-on-one setting.  It will take awhile, as Bowen will be able to stop Gallinari from scoring often, there's no doubt that Gallinari will be able to come out on top here.

    Gallinari proves that while pure defensive ability helps teams win championships, it doesn't help nearly enough in a one-on-one setting, as he moves on to the second round with a win over the defensively minded Bowen.

    Danilo Gallinari 25, Bruce Bowen 7 

East Division 1st Round: No. 7 Paul Arizin vs. No. 10 Richard Jefferson

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    Paul Arizin against Richard Jefferson is a matchup between two different styles of players.

    Jefferson, at 6'7'' and 230 lb., plays the game with strength and athleticism, whereas Arizin, at 6'4'' and only 190 lb., plays the game with more fines and polish.

    Ultimately, Jefferson's size will be too much for Arizin to handle, as he won't be able to stop Jefferson on the defensive side of the ball.  While Arizin is the more proficient scorer of the two player, Jefferson is stronger and more athletic, which gives him the advantage.

    Jefferson will pull off this first-round upset, sending Arizin packing a little bit earlier than he originally intended.

    Richard Jefferson 25, Paul Arizin 16

East Division 1st Round: No. 8 Dorell Wright vs. No. 9 David Thompson

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    Even though David Thompson is the lower seed here, he still has a sizable advantage over the less complete Dorell Wright.

    Wright is a solid role player with above-average defensive skills, but he certainly doesn't have the competency on the offensive side of the ball he needs to take down a Hall of Fame player.  Thompson's efficiency with the ball, with a career shooting percentage above 50 percent, will be too much for Wright to overcome.

    With his athleticism and versatility in his game, Thompson will overwhelm Wright and show him why he still needs to work on the facets of his offensive game if he wants to be a legitimate player in the NBA. Thompson pulls off this first-round "upset" and sends Wright home to work on his game.

    David Thompson 25, Dorell Wright 14

West Division 1st Round: No. 1 Kevin Durant vs. No. 16 Jack Twyman

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    Sure, Jeff Twyman is a Hall-of-Famer and a complete player, but he never played against a player of the caliber of Kevin Durant, and that will be put on display in this first-round matchup.

    Durant's rare mix of size, length and versatility will absolutely overwhelm Twyman for the longevity of this matchup, and if that isn't enough, Twyman will be in awe of Durant's ability to score with ease from in the paint and from 30 feet away from the basket.

    There's no way around the fact that Durant will dominate this matchup, as his lackadaisical defensive style will be overshadowed by his impressive and versatile offensive skills.

    Kevin Durant 25, Jack Twyman 12 

West Division 1st Round: No. 2 Elgin Baylor vs. No. 15 Steve Novak

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    Elgin Baylor against Steve Novak is a lopsided matchup to say the least, as Baylor has the advantage in nearly every facet of the game.

    The only advantage that Novak has is his ability to hit long-range shots, but that won't matter as Novak will have nobody to get him the ball.  Novak's inability to create space and open shots for himself will be his downfall in this first-round matchup, as Baylor will smother him on defense and overwhelm him on the offensive side of the ball.

    Baylor will easily move on to the second round, with an extremely lopsided win over a sharp-shooter better known as Steve Novak.

    Elgin Baylor 25, Steve Novak 6

West Division 1st Round: No. 3 Rudy Gay vs. No. 13 Peja Stojakovic

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    Rudy Gay against Peja Stojakovic is a matchup that will be more competitive than you might originally think.

    While Gay is a much more athletic and well-sized small forward, there's no doubt that Stojakovic is a competent enough player to keep things competitive throughout.  

    The one thing that will help Gay win this first-round matchup will be his athleticism on the defensive side of the ball, as late in the game he will overwhelm Stojakovic and force him into low-percentage shots.

    Ultimately, Gay's athleticism will take over on both sides of the ball, as he will be able to get to the rim, finishing with serious veracity and proving that he's a legitimate contender in this tournament.

    Rudy Gay 25, Peja Stojakovic 17 

West Division 1st Round: No. 4 Dominique Wilkins vs. No. 13 Chase Budinger

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    "The human highlight film" enters the tournament, and he does so with a favorable first-round matchup against Chase Budinger.

    While Budinger is a versatile and somewhat oversized small forward, he will be overwhelmed early and often by Wilkins' impressive level of strength and athleticism.  What Wilkins lacks in efficiency he will all but make up for in versatility, as he will overwhelm Budinger with his ability to get to the rim with ease, while also being able to hit mid-range jumpers when he needs to.

    Ultimately, Wilkins will dominate this matchup, proving that a No. 4 seed might be too low for the athletically gifted Hall-of-Famer.

    Dominique Wilkins 25, Chase Budinger 10

West Division 1st Round: No. 5 Michael Beasley vs. No. 12 James Posey

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    Michael Beasley and James Posey have undoubtedly faced off during their careers, but their matchups have never been the focal point of any games.

    This will be a somewhat lopsided matchup, as Beasley's athletic skills, at 6'10'' and 235 lb., are perfectly set up to excel in a one-on-one tournament.  Posey has solid defensive abilities that will help him stay in the game early, but ultimately his ineptitude on the offensive side of the ball will be his downfall.  

    Beasley will run away with this one late in the matchup, when he decides he wants to start playing at the level we all know he can.

    Beasley shows that he's ready to legitimately compete in this tournament, because it perfectly caters to his "me-first" style of game. 

    Michael Beasley 25, James Posey 15

West Division 1st Round: No. 6 Robert Horry vs. No. 11 Jared Dudley

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    Like a lot of other small forwards in this tournament, Robert Horry earned his paychecks in the NBA by being a solid role player.

    While Jared Dudley arguably does the same thing, there's no doubt that Dudley is the more versatile of the two players facing off in this first-round matchup.  Horry has a slight size advantage, but he won't be able to consistently use that to his advantage, as Dudley's athleticism will quickly equalize that advantage.

    The biggest difference maker in this matchup will be Dudley's ability to create space for himself, which in turn will allow him to get more high-percentage shots than Horry.  Dudley will ultimately pull off this first-round upset because Horry isn't a competent one-on-one player.

    Jared Dudley 25, Robert Horry 17 

West Division 1st Round: No. 7 Andrei Kirilenko vs. No. 10 Glen Rice

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    While Andrei Kirilenko has the legitimate size advantage here, there's no doubt that Glen Rice has the advantage in every other facet of the game, especially when it comes to offensive efficiency.

    Kirilenko will be able to stay competitive in this matchup with his size and athleticism, but ultimately, Rice's efficiency will be too much for Kirilenko to handle.  Rice's ability to stretch the court with his silky smooth jumper, and his ability to post-up defenders will overwhelm Kirilenko in the latter parts of this matchup.

    Rice will prove why he's deserving of a shot at the Hall of Fame when he puts his isolation offense skills on display here against the outmatched and outgunned Kirilenko.

    Glen Rice 25, Andrei Kirilenko 16 

West Division 1st Round: No. 8 Keke Vandeweghe vs. No. 9 Trevor Ariza

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    Keke Vandeweghe is the most difficult name to spell in this tournament, and while that alone should knock him out, it won't, and neither will Trevor Ariza.

    Ariza will make this matchup difficult for Kiki, as he plays with a level of tenacity and strength, but he won't have enough offensive skill to knock him out of the first round.  With an impressive 52.5 percent shooting percentage, Kiki has the efficiency in his game that will help him make it out of a tough and hard-fought first-round matchup with Ariza.

    As Kiki frustrates and outplays Ariza, I hope we don't see Ariza stoop to this level, as he tries to hang with Kiki.  Ultimately Kiki will be too much for Ariza, earning him the final spot in the second round of this epic tournament.

    Kiki Vandeweghe 25, Trevor Ariza 15 

North Division 2nd Round: No. 1 Larry Bird vs. No. 8 Hedo Turkoglu

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    After an easy win in the first-round for Larry Bird, he will face off against a tougher foe in Hedo Turkoglu.

    Turkoglu, with a solid 6'10'' and 220 lb. frame, will pose quite a challenge for Bird, but he won't be able to stop him nearly enough to pull off a colossal upset.  Bird's quick release fadeaway jump-shot will be his go to shot here in this matchup, as Turkoglu won't be able to stop it at the rate he will need to.  

    When Turkoglu gets the ball, he will certainly be able to score and expose Bird's defensive abilities early on.

    Sadly enough for Turkoglu fans, "Larry legend" will knock him out of the first round, with efficiency and an impressive hold on the fundamentals of basketball.  "The hick from French Lick" moves on to an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen and keeps his hopes of winning this tournament alive.

    Larry Bird 25, Hedo Turkoglu 17 

North Division 2nd Round: No. 4 Luol Deng vs. No. 5 Alex English

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    A matchup between Luol Deng and Alex English would be absolutely epic, as it pits two evenly skilled and offensively explosive players against one another.

    The biggest difference maker in this matchup will be the two-inch and 30 lb. size advantage that Deng has over English, as Deng is just as athletic as English, even at his increased size.  

    There's no doubt that this matchup will be back and forth throughout, with the potential to go well past the 25-point limit, as both players will try to strong-arm each other throughout the game.

    While English is the more efficient offensive player, Deng's ability to hit long-range jumpers will be the real difference maker here, as English won't be able to consistently defend Deng's perimeter jumper and his slashing abilities.  Deng fights his way into the Sweet Sixteen with a gritty win over English.

    Luol Deng 29, Alex English 27 

North Division 2nd Round: No. 3 Rick Barry vs. No. 11 Larry Johnson

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    "Grandmama" against Rick Barry is an interesting matchup, as Rick Barry has two inches on Larry Johnson, while Johnson has nearly 45 lb. on Barry.

    Johnson's size advantage will be the difference maker in this matchup, only because, even with 45 extra lb., Johnson is still more athletic and more agile than Barry, and that makes him that much more dangerous in a one-on-one setting.  

    While Barry might be slightly more productive, there's no doubt that Johnson is a more versatile player, and that also gives him a solid advantage here.

    With his size, Johnson will be too much for Barry to handle in the paint, and Johnson will outplay Barry on the defensive side of the ball, blocking Barry's shots at an impressive rate.  "Grandmama" pulls off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, with an impressive win against Barry.

    Larry Johnson 25, Rick Barry 19

North Division 2nd Round: No. 2 Carmelo Anthony vs. No. 7 Chris Mullins

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    Carmelo Anthony and Chris Mullin are similar styles of players, both with the ability to step-back and hit mid-to-long range jumpers with ease.

    The biggest difference maker in this matchup will certainly be the athleticism and smooth jump-shot of 'Melo, as he will use and abuse Mullins on the perimeter.  Once Mullins starts to defend 'Melo's jump-shot, 'Melo will start slashing into the paint, which will be more than Mullins can handle in this one-on-one tournament.  

    The only advantage Mullins has over 'Melo is his defensive abilities, and 'Melo will certainly exploit them early and often with his solid ball-handling skills. 

    'Melo will easily move on to the Sweet Sixteen, with an impressive win over Mullins, proving that he's still a top contender for this tournament title.

    Carmelo Anthony 25, Chris Mullins 15

South Division 2nd Round: No. 1 LeBron James vs. No. 9 Grant Hill

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    LeBron James and Grant Hill have gone up against each other quite a few times in their NBA careers, and while they haven't exactly been equal battles, there's no doubt that in his prime, Grant Hill could make LeBron moving on a difficult challenge.

    While Hill certainly has all the tools he needs to hang with LeBron and challenge him throughout the matchup, there's no doubt that he's not nearly as physical or as complete of a player as LeBron is.  

    LeBron's ability to get to the rim will be tough enough for Hill to stop, and if he stops that a few times LeBron will step back and just start hitting mid-to-long range jumpers to open up the paint again.

    No matter how you look at this matchup, LeBron will easily come out on top, and while Hill will certainly challenge LeBron early on, there's no way that he will be able beat him.  LeBron moves on and takes his talents to the Sweet Sixteen.

    LeBron James 25, Grant Hill 12

South Division 2nd Round: No. 4 James Worthy vs. No. 12 Jamal Mashburn

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    James Worthy against Jamaal Mashburn will certainly be a close matchup, as both players bring a certain level of athleticism and versatility to their game that will be fun to watch.

    I was hoping that Mashburn could make a deep run in this tournament, as his style of play is set up perfectly for a one-on-one tournament, but meeting up with Worthy in the second round is just too difficult of a matchup for him to overcome.  

    Mashburn's inefficiency on offense will ultimately be the difference maker in this game, as Worthy's defense will frustrate Mashburn and force him into taking low-percentage shots that will ultimately be his demise.

    Worthy, with a career shooting percentage above 50 percent, will be able to post up Mashburn near the paint and hit his patented turn around jump-shot enough times to drop Mashburn, and move on to the Sweet Sixteen.

    James Worthy 25, Jamaal Mashburn 18 

South Division 2nd Round: No. 3 Paul Pierce vs. No. 6 Bernard King

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    Paul Pierce and Bernard King are two very similar players, as they both are well-sized for the small forward position, and they both are able to post-up defenders with ease.

    The biggest difference maker in this second-round matchup will be Pierce's ability to hit his quick-release patented fade-away shot over King.  Pierce is one of the deadliest shooters in the NBA, not because of his quickness or strength, but more so because of his basketball intelligence and his ability to release his shot so quickly.

    Pierce will use his 30 lb. size advantage over King to frustrate him defensively and also create the little space he needs on the offensive side of the ball to hit his patented fade-away jumper from the top of the key.  Although King is a great player, Pierce is just that much better.

    Paul Pierce 25, Bernard King 20 

South Division 2nd Round: No. 2 John Havlicek vs. No. 7 Nicolas Batum

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    Nicolas Batum faces off against one of the greatest of all-time in John Havlicek, and his first-round success won't carry over into this second-round matchup.

    Havlicek is such a fluid offensive player, that it will be hard for Batum to handle him on the defensive side of the ball.  While Batum has the height advantage, there's no doubt that Havlicek's basketball I.Q and his ability to slash to the basket will be to his advantage.

    Havlicek will also dominate Batum on the defensive side of the ball, forcing Batum into low-percentage shots, turnovers and ultimately frustrating him to the point where he forces him to play outside of his strengths.  

    Batum's run in this tournament comes to an end at the hands of Havlicek, but Batum shouldn't feel all that bad because a number of other players will fall to that same fate.

    John Havlicek 25, Nicolas Batum 14

East Division 2nd Round: No. 1 Julius Erving vs. No. 9 David Thompson

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    Julius Erving and David Thompson faced off against each other quite a few times in their NBA careers, and time after time Erving dominated those matchups.

    Much like the past, Dr. J will dominate this matchup with his rare combination of efficiency and athleticism.  Thompson will certainly be able to put a few points up against Erving, but there's no doubt that Erving will come out on top, as his quickness and ability to finish at the rim will be too much for Thompson to handle for the longevity of the game.

    "The Doctor" proves that sometimes athleticism is more important than sticking to the fundamentals of basketball, as he teaches Thompson a thing or two about isolation offense and about finishing strong at the rim.

    Julius Erving 25, David Thompson 15

East Division 2nd Round: No. 4 Andre Iguodala vs. No 5 Adrian Dantley

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    Andre Iguodala and Adrian Dantley are two very similar players, as they are both exceptionally athletic small forwards, while also being legitimate defensive threats.

    Both players weigh in around 6'6'' and 205 lb., and there's no doubt that this matchup will be extremely close throughout.  The difference maker here will be the intensity that Iguodala brings to the court, and his impressive ability to finish strong at the rim. Dantley, however, won't go down without a fight, as he has the ability to score seemingly at will.

    Dantley, with his physicality and smooth jumper will keep this game close, well past the 25-point limit, but ultimately Iguodala's agility and athleticism, mixed with his ability to step out and hit long-range jumpers, will help earn him a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.

    Andre Iguodala 30, Adrian Dantley 28  

East Division 2nd Round: No. 3 Scottie Pippen vs. No. 6 Danilo Gallinari

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    Scottie Pippen's run in this tournament will come to an untimely end at the upset-minded hands of Danilo Gallinari.

    The reason Gallinari will be able to pull of this big upset is because of his 6'10'' and 225 lb. frame, and the fact that he's deadly from almost anywhere on the court.  Gallinari is arguably the better pure shooter of the two players, and his two-inch advantage will help him create space and high-percentage shots for himself.

    Pippen is arguably the more physical player between the two, but Gallinari will be able to equalize that advantage with his offensive abilities.  

    This matchup will come down to which player can stop the other player more often, resulting in increased offensive opportunities, and that player is undoubtedly Gallinari.

    Danilo Gallinari 25, Scottie Pippen 22

East Division 2nd Round: No. 2 Danny Granger vs. No. 10 Richard Jefferson

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    Danny Granger and Richard Jefferson have faced off numerous time in their NBA careers, and while Jefferson is the more athletic player, Granger is the more complete offensive player, and that's why he will win this matchup.

    With a more pure jump-shot and a more solidified post-up game than Jefferson, Granger will be able to dominate Jefferson when he has the ball in his hands.  While Jefferson has the advantage on the defensive side of the ball with his freakish athleticism, Granger will outlast him with his pure ability to score.

    With a win over Jefferson, Granger will solidify himself as a contender in this tournament by earning an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, and doing so in impressive fashion.

    Danny Granger 25, Richard Jefferson 18 

West Division 2nd Round: No. 1 Kevin Durant vs. No. 9 Kiki Vandeweghe

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    Kevin Durant against Kiki Vandeweghe will be a much more competitive matchup than you might thing, as Kiki has legitimate defensive talent that will make it challenging for Durant to score like he's used to.

    Both players are equally sized, with Durant having a slight weight advantage, but there's no doubt that Durant is the more athletic players of the two, and that will ultimately be the difference here.  Kiki is a pure scorer, with a solid jump-shot that will force Durant to do something he doesn't like to do, and that is to play defense.

    The difference maker here will be Durant's ability to score from nearly anywhere on the court, as it will force Kiki to guard him everywhere he goes, ultimately wearing him out.  While it will be a tough matchup for Durant, he will ultimately come out on top, as his ridiculous offensive skill makes its way to the Sweet Sixteen.

    Kevin Durant 25, Kiki Vandeweghe 17 

West Division 2nd Round: No. 4 Dominique Wilkins vs. No. 5 Michael Beasley

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    Dominique Wilkins and Michael Beasley are two freakishly athletic players, and that's why this matchup will come down to which player can play more disciplined basketball.

    Unquestionably, the more disciplined player of the two is Wilkins, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and that will be his key to victory here.  Beasley will certainly give him a run for his money, as his length and ability to finish at the rim will be challenging for Wilkins.

    Ultimately though, Wilkins' ability to get to the basket and finish strong will be too much for Beasley to handle on the defensive side of the ball.  Beasley's inefficiency will also be a hurdle to big to climb for him in this matchup, as Wilkins dominates this battle and moves on to the Sweet Sixteen.

    Dominique Wilkins 25, Michael Beasley 19

West Division 2nd Round: No. 3 Rudy Gay vs. No. 11 Jared Dudley

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    Rudy Gay and Jared Dudley have battled against each other in the NBA more than just a couple times, and time in and time out, the more dominant player of the two is Gay.

    Gay is the more athletic player of the two, with an increased ability to get to the rim and finish strong, and that will certainly be the difference maker when these two current stars face off against each other.  While Dudley has an impressive range to his game, he won't be able to keep up with Gay on the defensive side of the ball, and that will be too much for him to overcome.

    With an impressive win over Dudley rooted in his physical athleticism, Gay moves on to the Sweet Sixteen to prove that he's a legitimate contender in this tournament.

    Rudy Gay 25, Jared Dudley 16

West Division 2nd Round: No. 2 Elgin Baylor vs. No. 10 Glen Rice

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    There's no doubt that Glen Rice has the offensive skill, rooted in his silky smooth jump-shot, to hang with Elgin Baylor, but unfortunately hanging with Baylor won't result in a second-round win.

    While Rice is the better long-range threat, Baylor is certainly the more athletic player of the two, and his physicality and athleticism will carry him to a win over Rice.  Baylor's ability to get into the paint, and hit floaters at will, will be a big difference maker here.  

    Rice's post-up ability will keep this match close throughout the first few possessions, but ultimately Baylor will adapt and use his quickness on defense to equalize Rice's post-game advantage.

    With a dominant win over Rice, Baylor will prove that he's not only one of the best small forwards in this tournament, but he's also one of the best players to ever play the game.

    Elgin Baylor 25, Glen Rice 15

Sweet Sixteen: No. 1 Larry Bird vs. No. 4 Luol Deng

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    The Sweet Sixteen kicks off with Larry legend facing off against Luol Deng, and this matchup certainly won't disappoint as both players match up very well against each other.

    Deng's athleticism will help him on the defensive side of the ball as he tries to do the impossible and stop Bird from scoring.  Deng will be able to hang with Bird throughout his matchup, as he even has the advantage when it comes to which player is able to get into the paint and finish at the rim more.  

    The only problem for Deng will be Bird's ridiculous ability to hit turnaround jumpers and his surprising physicality on the defensive side of the ball.

    Bird will lock down Deng when he needs to, forcing Deng to beat him around the perimeter rather than in the paint, which will ultimately be the difference maker in this extremely close Sweet Sixteen matchup.

    Larry Bird 25, Luol Deng 22

Sweet Sixteen: No. 2 Carmelo Anthony vs. No. 11 Larry Johnson

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    Carmelo Anthony and Larry Johnson square off in this Sweet Sixteen matchup that will certainly be one for the ages.

    While 'Melo has the clear advantage when it comes to finesse and polish on his offensive game, there's no doubt that "Grandmama" has the advantage when it comes to athleticism and physicality, and that will be the difference maker here.

    With a 20 lb. advantage over 'Melo, Johnson will use his athleticism and size to overpower him in the paint, resulting in high-percentage scoring opportunities at the rim.

    Carmelo's biggest strength, which is his ability to hit jumpers from anywhere on the court, will also be his biggest downfall in this matchup, as he will rely too much on his outside jumper and not enough on his ability to back Johnson down near the paint.  

    Ultimately, Johnson will pull off this colossal upset, and earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen, starting a legitimate Cinderella story. 

    Larry Johnson 27, Carmelo Anthony 25 

Sweet Sixteen: No. 1 LeBron James vs. No. 4 James Worthy

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    While both LeBron James and James Worthy are extremely explosive offensive talents, there's no doubt that the advantage on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball goes to LeBron.

    LeBron is a more athletic, stronger and versatile version of Worthy, and that's why he will ultimately put an end to Worthy's journey in this tournament.  

    LeBron will use his size and athletic advantage to get in to the paint with ease, scoring seemingly at will when he gets to the rim.  Once Worthy starts contesting those shots, LeBron will step out and hit mid-to-long range jumpers to keep Worthy honest on defense.

    Worthy is certainly one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and the fact that LeBron will dominate him in this matchup just goes to show how complete and legitimate of a player LeBron is.  LeBron moves onto the Elite Eight with an impressive win over Worthy.

    LeBron James 25, James Worthy 19 

Sweet Sixteen: No. 2 Jon Havlicek vs. No. 3 Paul Pierce

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    Here's an absolutely epic matchup that both Celtics fans and NBA fans alike would love to see.

    Jon Havlicek against Paul Pierce pits two Celtic legends against one another, helping prove which player is the more dominant member of the Celtics' franchise.  The difference maker in this matchup will certainly be Pierce's size, with a 30 lb. advantage, and his ability to hit long-range jumpers with defenders draped all over him.

    Havlicek will contest a majority of Pierce's shots, as he's a legitimate defender, but that won't phase Pierce as he will hit highly-contested shots with a seemingly high level of ease.  

    With a big win over Havlicek, Pierce will prove that he is one of the greatest Celtics to ever play the game, while also earning himself an exclusive spot in the Elite Eight.

    Paul Pierce 25, Jon Havlicek 18 

Sweet Sixteen: No. 1 Julius Erving vs. No. 4 Andre Iguodala

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    Here's another battle between two great players that played/play for the same NBA franchise.

    Andre Iguodala against Julius Erving will help prove once and for all just how dominant of a player Erving is, as he will run all over Iguodala with his athleticism and staunch defensive skills.  

    While Iguodala is a little bit more physical of a player, he won't be able to hang with Erving's athleticism for the longevity of this matchup.  Erving's ability to get tot he rim and finish with both power and finesse, will overwhelm Iguodala from the start of this matchup.

    With a dominant win over Iguodala, Dr. J will prove that he's quite possibly the greatest Philadelphia 76ers of all time, along while also being one of the greatest to every play the game.  Dr. J moves on to the Elite Eight in hopes of proving that he's the greatest small forward in the history of the NBA.

    Julius Erving 25, Andre Iguodala 14 

Sweet Sixteen: No. 2 Danny Granger vs. No. 6 Danilo Gallinari

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    Danilo Gallinari will bring Danny Granger's run in this tournament to an end with his physicality and size advantage here.

    This matchup will be extremely close throughout, as both Gallinari and Granger have impressive and versatile offensive abilities and skill-sets.  

    The real difference maker here will be Gallinari's defensive abilities, as he will be able to bang with Granger as he tried to post him up and back him down into the paint.  Gallinari's size will help him on the defensive end, and it will also give him an advantage on the offensive side of the ball two.

    While Granger is a somewhat more complete offensive player, there's no doubt that Gallinari has the same ability to stretch the court, and he also is a somewhat stronger finisher at the basket.  Gallinari will ultimately pull of this huge upset with the tenacity and hustle that defines his game, earning him a spot in the Elite Eight.

    Danilo Gallinari 25, Danny Granger 22

Sweet Sixteen: No. 1 Kevin Durant vs. No. 4 Dominique Wilkins

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    Dominique Wilkins will have met his match when he steps on the court against Kevin Durant in this Sweet Sixteen matchup.

    While Wilkins is certainly an athletic and competent player, there's no doubt that Durant is the more explosive and complete offensive player.  Durant will stretch the court with ease, hitting his long-range jumper, while also slashing to the rim and finishing with legitimate strength and veracity.  

    Wilkins will keep this game close, but ultimately Durant's pure offensive abilities will be too much for him to handle.

    When Wilkins gets the ball he will be able to expose Durant's biggest weakness, which is his defensive abilities, but that alone won't be enough to take out this No. 1 seed.  

    Durant proves why he's such a special player with this dominant win over Wilkins, rooted in his All-Star caliber offensive abilities, earning him a spot in the Elite Eight.

    Kevin Durant 25, Dominique Wilkins 20

Sweet Sixteen: No. 2 Elgin Baylor vs. No. 3 Rudy Gay

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    Elgin Baylor has finally met his match, as he faces off against one of the top small forwards in the game today, in Rudy Gay.

    The difference maker in this matchup will be the athleticism that Gay brings to the court.  While Baylor undoubtedly saw athletic players during his time in the NBA, none were as versatile and athletic as Gay.  

    Gay's ability to get to the rim and finish strong will keep Baylor on his toes in this matchup, and it will also help Gay create the space he needs to step back and hit his mid-to-long range jump-shot.

    Gay also has the slight edge in the matchup when it comes to efficiency on the offensive side of the ball, and that will help him seal Baylor's fate, earning himself an impressive trip to the Elite Eight to face off against the one and only Kevin Durant.

    Rudy Gay 25, Elgin Baylor 21 

Elite Eight: No. 1 Larry Bird vs. No. 11 Larry Johnson

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    While it's possible that Larry Johnson could knock off Larry Bird, it won't happen this time, as Bird puts an abrupt end to "Grandmama's" magical run in this tournament.

    Johnson has a 30 lb. weight advantage over Bird, but Bird certainly isn't a pushover, and he will battle it out in the paint with Johnson for the longevity of this matchup.  

    The difference maker here will be Bird's ability to hit his jump-shot from nearly anywhere on the court with seeming ease and with Johnson draped all over him.  Bird's shot is nearly unblock able, as he launches it from behind his head, and Johnson will have a hard time doing more than just contesting his shots.

    Ultimately, Bird will come out on top in this Elite Eight battle, as his range will be too much for Johnson to handle on the defensive side of the ball for the extent of this match.  Bird earns the first Final Four spot of the tournament by putting an end to Johnson's Cinderella run.

    Larry Bird 25,  Larry "Grandmama" Johnson 22

Elite Eight: No. 1 LeBron James vs. No. 3 Paul Pierce

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    LeBron James and Paul Pierce are no strangers to each other, as they've faced off more than a handful of times during their NBA careers.

    While there's no doubt that this matchup will be close and high contested, the advantage, hands down, goes to LeBron, as he is the more explosive and more athletic player of the two.  

    Pierce will keep this game close, as he will certainly be able to score when he has the ball, but he won't be able to stop LeBron enough to get the win.  LeBron will not only post up Pierce and back him into the paint with ease, but he will also get to the rim off his ability to penetrate and finish strong.

    LeBron will ultimately win this battle of current stars, as he proves that he's not only a better player than Pierce, but that he's also one of the greatest to ever play the game.  LeBron becomes the second No. 1 seed to take his talents to the Final Four.

    LeBron James 25, Paul Pierce 18 

Elite Eight: No. 1 Julius Erving vs. No. 6 Danilo Gallinari

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    Danilo Gallinari's magical run in this tournament had to come to an end before the Final Four right?

    Yes it did, and it couldn't come at the hands of a better player, as Julius Erving will knock off Gallinari and he will do so in impressive fashion.  

    Gallinari's size will be tough to handle early on, but Dr. J's physicality and athleticism will ultimately help him handle Gallinari on the defensive side of the ball.  Offensively speaking, Erving is the more versatile player, and he will certainly take advantage of Gallinari's size by exploiting him on his dribble drive.

    There's no way around the fact that Dr. J will win this matchup, as he has what he needs to put an end to Gallinari's Cinderella run in this tournament.  Just like Larry Bird and LeBron James, Dr. J takes his No. 1 seed talents into the Final Four to face off against the winner of the battle between Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay.

    Julius Erving 25, Danilo Gallinari 19 

Elite Eight: No. 1 Kevin Durant vs. No. 3 Rudy Gay

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    Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay aren't strangers to each other, as they've faced off against one another numerous times in their NBA careers.

    Gay and Durant match up extremely well against each other, and while Durant has the offensive advantage, there's no doubt that Gay has the defensive advantage.  

    This Elite Eight battle will ultimately come down to which player will play with more efficiency on the offensive side of the ball, and that player is Durant, just slightly.  Durant's career shooting percentage is 46.8 percent, as compared to Gay's average of just 45.5 percent, and that will give him the advantage here.

    Durant is also the more versatile player, as he realistically has limitless range on the court.  While the matchup will be one of the most competitive of the tournament, Durant will ultimately come out on top, making him the fourth and final No. 1 seed to make it the Final Four.

    Kudos to Gay for putting up such a physical fight, but unfortunately it won't be enough.

    Kevin Durant 31, Rudy Gay 29

Final Four: No. 1 Larry Bird vs. No. 1 LeBron James

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    Here it is.  The matchup that we've all been wanting to see between LeBron James and Larry Bird.

    There's no doubt that Bird and LeBron will put on quite a show in this Final Four matchup, but ultimately LeBron will knock Bird out, with his rare and unique level of versatility and athleticism.  

    Not only is LeBron the bigger player of the two, he is also the more physical, with his ability to finish with both finesse and strength at the rim ultimately being the difference maker in this matchup.

    While Bird will be able to keep this game competitive and close with his smooth jumper and his physicality on defense, he won't be able to handle LeBron's newfound post-up game.  LeBron's elite defense will also be a difference maker, as his ability to put Bird on lock-down will help him score this relative upset over Bird.

    Bird and LeBron will go back and forth throughout, but ultimately LeBron will be too much for "Larry legend" to handle, as his combination of size, speed and strength will be something Bird hasn't seen much before.

    LeBron James 25, Larry Bird 22

Final Four: No. 1 Kevin Durant vs. No. 1 Julius Erving

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    Kevin Durant against Julius Erving will be one for the ages, as it pits two extremely athletically gifted players against each other.

    The real difference maker here, though, will be the range that Durant has in his game and how difficult it will be for Erving to stop him on the defensive side of the ball.  

    Durant's biggest challenge here won't be scoring the ball, as that's relatively easy for him to do.  It will be trying to stop Erving when he has the ball in his hands, as Durant's defensive skills aren't exactly his biggest strength.

    While Erving might be the slightly more athletic player, there's no doubt that Durant is the more complete offensive player, and his ability to hit long-range shots while also getting into the paint and finishing with finesse at the rim will be too much for Erving to handle.

    Knocking Erving out of this tournament will be quite an impressive feat, and it will put on display just how great of a player Durant truly is.  Durant will make quite a statement in this matchup by beating Dr. J on his way to facing off against LeBron James in the tournament finals.

    Kevin Durant 25, Julius Erving 21

Tournament Finals: No. 1 LeBron James vs. No. 1 Kevin Durant

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    LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the greatest players in the game today, and they also just so happen to be developing into a legitimate rivalry in the NBA.

    This battle between two basketball behemoths will come down to which player can be more dominant on the defensive side of the ball, and unfortunately for Durant, that player is hands down LeBron.

    Both LeBron and Durant are arguably two of the most dominant offensive players in the NBA, with career points per game averages around 27 points, but what makes LeBron a better player than Durant is the focus and intensity that he brings to the defensive side of the ball.

    LeBron will stop Durant in this matchup more times than Durant is able to stop him, and that means that LeBron will have more offensive opportunities than Durant, which will result in LeBron creating high-percentage shots in the paint.  

    Once Durant contests LeBron in the paint, LeBron will step out and make Durant contest his mid-range jumper, which he won't be able to do. 

    Ultimately, Durant's defensive inabilities will be too much to overcome, as LeBron pulls away late against Durant, not only winning this tournament, but also proving that he's the most dominant and complete players in the game today.

    LeBron James 25, Kevin Durant 21

Tournament Champion: No. 1 LeBron James

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    There you have it. LeBron James runs away with this 64-player one-on-one tournament for the ages, proving that he's one of the greatest small forwards to ever play the game.

    LeBron dominated this tournament just like he dominates the NBA night in and night out, with athleticism, intensity, strength and completeness in his game.

    Tournament Champion: LeBron James 

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