Ranking the Top Basketball Families Playing in the NBA

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 29, 2021

Ranking the Top Basketball Families Playing in the NBA

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    With roughly 450 NBA roster spots filled at any given time, it seems almost impossible for any single family to lay claim to more than one.

    But a fortunate few households have managed to put multiple players in the league. A handful of them have at least two representatives on rosters right now.

    Those are the clans that have captured our attention for this exercise, which is a super comprehensive, totally objective ranking of the top NBA families for 2020-21.

    Now, a few things before we get started. This isn't at all objective, because duh—how exactly do you objectively rank families? Instead, we're subjectively pulling together things that seem the most pertinent to this discussion, like production and accolades, but also less tangible topics like impact, influence and visibility.

    Also, we're locking in on NBA player siblings, meaning father-son tandems (like Doc and Austin Rivers) and cousins (like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nickeil Alexander-Walker) won't make the cut. We're also only examining current players, so past NBA siblings (like Dominique and Gerald Wilkins and even Pau and Marc Gasol) get nothing beyond this hat tip.

    Everyone clear on the exercise? Good, let's get to the rankings.

6. The Morris Family

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Marcus and Markieff Morris take #twinning to the extreme. The identical twins share just about everything, including tattoo designs and bank accounts.

    Just about the one thing they don't have in common is play style. Marcus is more comfortable on the perimeter and deadlier from distance (career 37.7 percent from three to Markieff's 34.2). Markieff plays a more physical brand of basketball and can hold his own as a small-ball center.

    In terms of ranking, this seems a bit low given their chance to directly impact the championship chase. If the Western Conference comes down to the Battle for L.A., these two will help determine how it shakes out. Marcus has thrived since joining the Clippers' opening group in mid-March, and Markieff's minutes with the Lakers have climbed every month since the calendar flipped to 2021.

    However, this is one of only two NBA families on the list that doesn't include an All-Star, and the other could have an annual participant sooner than later.

5. The Lopez Family

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, get high marks for being unique. There just aren't a lot of 7-foot identical twins to begin with, and I can't imagine that group contains many comic book-loving, mascot-hating Disney fanatics who are into their second decade as NBA pros.

    Each has almost 900 regular-season outings under his belt. Brook has been an All-Star and 20-point scorer. Robin has started more than half of his career games and once played all 82 contests three times in four seasons.

    Both are playing out the back nines of their careers, but they have found ways to maintain relevance. Brook repurposed himself as a supersized sniper, delectably dubbed "Splash Mountain." Robin has yet to be outhustled by an opponent and keeps clowning dudes with his sweeping hook shot (117 of his 219 field goals this season are hooks).

    They might have the best size-skill combo in this discussion, though they're dinged a bit for not playing the most aesthetically pleasing styles. They also aren't cornerstone players the way some siblings higher up on our list are.

4. The Holiday Family

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    The Holidays are history-makers. In December 2019, Jrue, Justin and Aaron became the first trio of siblings to play in the same NBA game.

    "This is super cool, but I feel like it's normal for us," Jrue told Fox Sports Southwest's Erin Hartigan at the time. "Everything we've done our whole life has always been together."

    Since Aaron joined the family business as the 23rd overall pick in 2018, they've all shared the NBA stage together. Jrue is a former All-Star and two-time All-Defensive selection. Justin is a self-made rotation regular, who went undrafted out of Washington in 2011 and didn't have a regular NBA role until 2014. Aaron has flashed a powerful quick-strike scoring punch as a Pacers reserve.

    While it doesn't contribute to the ranking, it's worth noting that their sister, Lauren, might have been the best of the bunch before head injuries forced her to end her playing career at UCLA.

    Save for Jrue's one All-Star selection, stardom has eluded this trio, which stops it from climbing any higher. But one family producing three reliable NBA rotation players is absurd.

3. The Ball Family

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    The Ball brothers always have people talking, usually with patriarch LaVar leading the charge. They'll get conversations going here, too, as some will say this ranking has more to do with reputation than results.

    They're right, by the way, just not in the way they think.

    Influence plays a part in these rankings, and few basketball families have a greater global reach. LaMelo has 6.7 million Instagram followers, while Lonzo has 9.4 million (0.5 million more than Giannis Antetokounmpo). Even LiAngelo, who hasn't climbed above the G League, has 2.5 million people tracking his movements on the Gram.

    That kind of reach matters. If you think it shouldn't, this is where I remind you who set the subjective criteria.

    But there are basketball reasons behind this placement, too.

    LaMelo should have the Rookie of the Year award locked up regardless of whether he's able to return from a fractured wrist (and it sounds like he will at some point). He's a 6'6" playmaker with a preternatural gift for passing (7.7 assists against 3.5 turnovers per 36 minutes) and ahead-of-schedule scoring (20.0 points per 36 minutes) and shooting (2.5 threes per 36 minutes at a 37.5 percent clip).

    Lonzo is a multi-positional defender who throws some of the best look-ahead passes in the game and keeps making strides as an offensive threat. His 2020-21 stat line includes multiple career highs, including 14.1 points, 3.0 threes and a 55.9 true shooting percentage.

    LaMelo looks like he'll be booking annual trips to the All-Star Game, and Lonzo could command close to $100 million in free agency this offseason. The Ball family is for real.

2. The Antetokounmpo Family

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    This ranking will surely spawn dissension on both sides.

    For some, it will be too high, since Thanasis Antetokounmpo is a fringe rotation player and Kostas Antetokounmpo isn't even that. For others, it will be low, as Giannis Antetokounmpo has arguably already chiseled his place on this generation's Mount Rushmore as a two-time MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.

    A quick application of the Goldilocks principle, then, says the ranking is actually just right.

    The family might be billed as Giannis and the Antetokounmpos, but all three siblings are in the Association. And if everything goes right in Europe for younger brother, Alex, there could be a fourth Antetokounmpbro joining the party sooner than later.

    Plus, if the headliner qualifies as maybe one of the five best people in his profession, you're picking nits when criticizing the opening acts.

    Giannis is an All-Galaxy superstar, a Monstar-come-to-life who has logged at least 6 percent of his career minutes at all five positions. The only reason he isn't viewed as an evolutionary force in the sport is that it's so hard to envision more players coming along with the same size-skill combo.

    Thanasis isn't a novelty act. He's a defensive menace who's authored four double-digit scoring efforts this season. Kostas is still finding his way as a 23-year-old in his third NBA season, but the physical tools are there to help him carve out a niche.

    Maybe those two don't move the needle much by themselves, but remember, it's near a fever pitch on the strength of Giannis alone. It just so happens that another multitime MVP gets a bigger lift from his brother.

1. The Curry Family

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    When Dell Curry wrapped up his 16-year NBA career in 2002, he exited with the 10th-most career triples at the time (1,245). Of the 92 players who netted 500-plus triples by then, his 40.2 connection rate ranked 11th-best.

    He was, objectively speaking, one of the most accomplished shooters to ever grace the NBA hardwood. So, maybe it shouldn't be so surprising to see his sons, Stephen and Seth, helping to revolutionize the outside shot.

    Dell shared his secret with Reuters' Julien Pretot in 2020: 

    "I taught my boys the fundamentals of the game and fundamentals of the shot. They had to have their own work ethic and dedication, of course being around the game, watching myself and some of the best players in the world, my team mates, really helped to show them how the pros go about doing it. But they had to have their own self discipline and dedication."

    Whatever Dell passed down stuck. Whatever Steph and Seth learned on their own laid the foundation for the most successful NBA sibling pair of this generation.

    Steph, obviously, is the headliner. He's a three-time champion, two-time MVP (once as the league's lone unanimous winner) and seven-time All-Star, but a list of accolades fails to capture his immense impact on the game. He has revolutionized the possibilities for and expectations on a shooter, flashing a never-before-seen blend of limitless range, dizzying handles and absurd efficiency.

    Seth isn't in that class—no one is—but he is one of the league's premier snipers. He's one of only two marksmen with at least 400 threes and a 43 percent splash rate since 2016-17. He's also growing as a playmaker and expanding his inside-the-arc arsenal with feather-soft touch on runners and floaters.

    There isn't another sibling pair in the modern game with a star on Steph's level and a supporting actor like Seth.


    All stats current through April 27 and courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.