Comparing Each NBA Team's Star Player to an Animal Equivalent
NBA players may be some of the most athletic men on the planet. But at the end of the day, they're only human.
What if they weren't?
Each and every NBA team's star player has a certain blend of physical and mental traits that make him unique. Some are stronger than others. Others have little to no personality. Others still fadeaway in the fourth quarter, and I'm not talking about fadeaway jump shots here.
Those traits lend themselves towards certain comparisons. So, if each team's star player had to be an animal, which animal would they be?
This idea came about when I heard that Kevin Love had participated in a beach volleyball event. That was strange to me because I'd always pictured Love as an animal that had no place on the beach. You'll have to read on to find out which one.
Love's animal equivalent was rather easy to come up with but some of the others were much tougher.
Find out which animal your favorite NBA player is most like by clicking onto the next slide!
Atlanta Hawks: Joe Johnson
Animal Equivalent: Ranchu
Ranchus are commonly considered the most expensive type of goldfish in the world. Developed in Japan, they are also called the "King of the Goldfish."
Well, that got me wondering. Why would you spend all that money on one when you can purchase a more exotic type of fish for your collection with the same budget?
At the end of the day, a ranchu is just a goldfish.
Acting like a slightly off-base fish collector, the Atlanta Hawks offered a maximum contract to Joe Johnson, which of course he signed. But why would you pay all that money for a player who is never really going to be a superstar?
Boston Celtics: Rajon Rondo
Animal Equivalent: Bat
Bats are renowned for their ability to find flying insects and devour them without using their eyes. Instead, they use echolocation to search for and locate their prey in the dark.
Sometimes it seems as though Rajon Rondo has the ability to use echolocation or something similar. I have no idea how he sees the passing lanes develop before anyone else.
Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker
Animal Equivalent: Flea
While this may seem like an insult at first, it's really not.
Fleas can jump up to seven inches in the air, which is quite high when you remember that they're only about one-sixteenth of an inch tall. Relative to their body height, fleas have the best vertical jump of any living creature.
The one real knock on Kemba Walker is his lack of height since he's pushing 6'0" on a good day. But boy can he jump.
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose
Animal Equivalent: Cougar
Also known as a mountain lion, panther or puma, a cougar is one of the most athletic felines in the world. With rippling muscles all over its body, a cougar is incredibly fast and possesses astounding leaping ability.
Remind you of anyone?
Cougars also utilize a stalk-and-ambush method of attack. Similarly, Derrick Rose loves to lure defenders to sleep before catching them unawares and driving past them into the lane for a big finish at the rim.
Cleveland Cavliers: Kyrie Irving
Animal Equivalent: Thoroughbred
Known for speed, agility and competitive fire, a Thoroughbred is the perfect comparison for this rookie point guard. Even though he only had 11 games to prove it, Kyrie Irving definitely can lay claim to all three of those traits.
But the similarities don't stop there.
Thoroughbreds are also some of the most expensive, upper-class types of horses. I feel like I've heard the same thing about the Duke basketball program.
Finally, because of that competitive fire, Thoroughbreds are also easily injured. Remember that thing about Irving only playing 11 games during his short-lived collegiate career?
Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
Animal Equivalent: Flamingo
I've said before that only flamingos can truly appreciate the awkward mastery of Dirk Nowitzki. The pink birds that stand on one leg to sleep have to just watch in awe as this recent NBA champion demonstrates his ability to not only stay awake but also sink tough shots off just one leg.
The amount of one-legged fadeaways that Dirk hit during the NBA Playoffs was simply astounding.
Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried
Animal Equivalent: Rhinoceros beetle
Kenneth Faried may not be tall enough to look like a natural NBA center, but he rebounds well enough to seem like one on the stat sheet. In terms of size-to-strength ratio, Faried is among the best in the NBA.
Rhinoceros beetles may be the largest type of beetle, but they still aren't too big as they're small enough to rest comfortably in a human's palm.
But despite their size, they are some of the strongest animals around as they've been recorded lifting objects 850 times their own body weight.
Detroit Pistons: Rodney Stuckey
Animal Equivalent: Liger
Believe it or not, ligers, which are hybrid animals derived from a combination of tigers and lions, do actually exist. But if you had to guess, is a liger more like a lion or a tiger?
Rodney Stuckey, on the other hand, is not a hybrid animal; he just plays a hybrid position. Is anyone actually sure whether he's a point guard or a shooting guard?
Golden State Warriors: Monta Ellis
Animal Equivalent: Leopard
Sure, leopards are agile and athletic creatures capable of running quickly and exploding into the air, just like Monta Ellis. But that's not the real reason for this comparison.
Don't you think that the tattooed skin on Ellis' arms make him look a lot like a leopard?
Houston Rockets: Kevin Martin
Animal Equivalent: Jaguar
If you've ever seen Kevin Martin take over the ball for an entire possession, then you'll understand that just like a jaguar, Martin sometimes prefers to go about his business on his own.
Martin, like a jaguar, is also a very quick and athletic creature who thrives mostly on offense or in the case of his animal equivalent, hunting.
Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger
Animal Equivalent: Mimic Octopus
OK, so the mimic octopus is just really, really cool. I would highly recommend reading about it.
If I had to guess, I would bet that 99 percent of the people reading this slide had never heard of a mimic octopus before roughly two seconds ago. It's a tremendously cool animal that deserves a lot more recognition.
Similarly, Danny Granger is the most unknown superstar in the league. He has everything you could ask for in a basketball player, but he is lost in the shuffle because he plays for the small-market Indiana Pacers.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin
Animal Equivalent: Klipspringer
Blake Griffin, as you all know by now, has put together an incredible amount of highlights in just one season in the NBA, mostly thanks to his insane ability to jump high into the air. Griffin jumps much more like a guard than a power forward who can also dabble at the center position.
Similarly, klipspringers, which are all a certain type of antelope, can spring off the ground like a jack-in-the-box springs out of, well, a box.
In fact, when compared to body size, they are the highest jumpers of any mammals, leaping up into the air more than 10 times their own body height.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Memphis Grizzlies: Zach Randolph
Animal Equivalent: Elephant
Elephants may be big and powerful animals, but there are two things that they physically just can't do. Even though they're the largest mammals on land, they can't run or jump. Yet they still manage to not only survive but thrive.
I don't remember the last time I saw Zach Randolph either run or jump. Yet he still plays at an All-Star level on a nightly basis.
Miami Heat: LeBron James
LeBron James is a big dude, but he's still one of the most athletic players to ever pick up a basketball and dribble down the court in the NBA. He's physically one of the strongest players alive, but he's also incredibly fast and can jump with the best of them.
As for wildebeests, they may weigh up to 600 pounds, but they can still reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Big and strong animals, they rely on their physical gifts to survive in the Serengeti.
But there comes a time for LeBron when his physical skills are just not enough. Faced with the pressure of the fourth quarter, he backs down as soon as the other team really proves that it's going to stand up to him. And that's where the black bear comparison comes in.
Black bears are also physical specimens and can be some of the most deadly killing machines in the continental United States. But they're timid creatures and easily scared off.
If attacked by a black bear, you're supposed to make loud noises and appear as big as possible to try to intimidate the bear.
These types of bears also don't show the same protectiveness towards their young cubs that other species of bears do. If you think about it, that's kind of similar to the relationship that James had with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Bogut
Animal Equivalent: Koala
Andrew Bogut is from Australia.
Koalas live in Australia.
Bogut must be a koala.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love
Animal Equivalent: Polar Bear
Here are a few reasons why polar bears are the perfect animal equivalent for Kevin Love.
1. Polar bears are deadly predators who can attack prey in a variety of ways. Kevin Love averaged 20.2 points per game last season thanks to a combination of post moves and long-range shooting.
2. Polar bears are incredibly strong and intelligent creatures. Kevin Love used his great strength and nose for rebounding the ball to average a league-leading 15.2 boards per game last season.
3. Polar bears are white. Kevin Love is white. This is not usual for either bears or NBA stars.
4. Polar bears are covered in fur. Kevin Love has a goatee, and he is not bald.
5. Polar bears are just as comfortable in the water as they are on land. Kevin Love really seems to enjoy taking showers.
New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams
Animal Equivalent: Lioness
Deron Williams doesn't always get as much credit as he deserves, but he is a premier predator at the point guard position as he was the only one in the NBA to average over 20 points and 10 assists per game last season.
Similarly, lionesses are the ones that go out and hunt for their food, but it's a rather thankless job as the big-maned male lions are the ones that get all of the recognition.
In a way, you could say that lionesses rack up the assists each time they bring back a fresh kill for their pride.
New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul
Animal Equivalent: Wolf
Chris Paul is the absolute best point guard in the NBA when he's fully healthy, but even he recognizes that he can't get the job done by himself. CP3 prefers to do the basketball equivalent of hunting in a pack by feeding the ball to other players and getting everyone involved.
Physically, Paul is similar to a wolf as well. Just as Paul isn't the biggest player at his position, so too are wolves not the biggest canines. Both however are quite agile and intelligent.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
Animal Equivalent: Great white shark
The great white shark is one of the most terrifying predators and most deadly killing machines in the world, just like Carmelo Anthony is one of the premier offensive threats in the NBA.
For a long time, both Melo and the shark were thought to go about their business alone, but recent research has shown that great whites may actually prefer to hunt in packs.
Melo was always his team's biggest offensive threat in Denver while playing an isolation style of offense in which he maintained possession of the ball for inordinate amounts of time.
But now, he's made the transition to New York. With the Knicks, he has to be content to share the ball with Amar'e Stoudemire while playing in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system.
Just as we'll have to wait and see whether or not the great white research is correct, we'll also have to see if Anthony can thrive in this new pack-like system.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant
Animal Equivalent: Rattlesnake
Rattlesnakes are some of the deadliest snakes in North America. Their venom, much like Kevin Durant's shot, is absolutely lethal when it is used.
The problem is, neither of them uses it as often as they could.
Rattlesnakes are content to simply hide in the leaves of the forests they inhabit and use the rattle on the end of their body to warn off prey instead of striking.
That's kind of what Durant does in the fourth quarter. Instead of taking over like he could, he is content to let Russell Westbrook control the offense unless he's provoked into action.
Orland Magic: Dwight Howard
Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Iguodala
Animal Equivalent: Tiger
Andre Iguodala is a very athletic basketball player, but he's not necessarily the fastest or the most powerful guy in the NBA.
Similarly, tigers are elite animals, but neither their speed nor their power is tops in the animal kingdom.
Also, tigers are constantly involved in trade rumors. OK fine, I just made that part up.
Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash
Animal Equivalent: A fast-moving Galapagos tortoise
Galapagos tortoises live to be over 100 years old in the wild and over 170 years old in captivity. They have longer life spans than almost any other vertebrate. You could say that they maintain their tortoise skills well into their old age.
If you've ever wondered why Steve Nash is still able to be such a successful point guard at 37 years of age, here's the answer.
He's a mutated Galapagos tortoise specifically designed to move at high speeds...and look like a human.
Portland Trail Blazers: LaMarcus Aldridge
Animal equivalent: Gorilla
LaMarcus Aldridge is big and strong, just like a gorilla.
That and the fact that I couldn't really think of anything funny to say, led to this comparison.
Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins
Animal Equivalent: Hippopotamus
Hippopotami are big and strong animals with some serious aggression issues. In fact, they're considered one of the most dangerous animals in all of Africa because of that aggressiveness.
Similarly, DeMarcus Cousins is an incredibly strong and talented big man. When he declared for the NBA draft after his freshman season at the University of Kentucky, the biggest knock on him was that he might be a bit of a head case.
Cousins was known to get aggressive too quickly and that worried many GMs.
Cousins also enjoyed a fantastic rookie season, but it was overshadowed by the years that John Wall and Blake Griffin put together.
Just like a hippopotamus, he deserves more recognition than he gets for what he does, which is why I have him here over Tyreke Evans.
San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan
Animal Equivalent: Giraffe
Tall and rather gangly, the giraffe is by no means the most athletic animal roaming the plains of Africa. Tim Duncan is likewise no longer the most athletic player on the basketball court. Both have to rely on something other than athleticism to get by.
For the giraffe, that something is its long neck, which allows it to feed on the tree's highest leaves. For Duncan, it's fundamentally sound play that allows him to take younger and lesser power forwards to school. But even that isn't the most striking similarity.
When was the last time you heard Tim Duncan speak on the basketball court? It's almost as though he's lost the power of speech.
Giraffes are commonly thought to be mute and while they do communicate with each other through non-verbal infrasonic sounds, they can make noises that the human ear can recognize.
Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan
Animal Equivalent: Kangaroo
DeMar DeRozan may have the most explosive leaping abilities in the NBA right now. He's on his way towards become a legitimate star after averaging 17.2 points per game during his second season, one that was chalk full of SportsCenter-worthy plays.
It seems as though he's always jumping, much like a kangaroo.
For his next dunk contest, I'd like to see him do a kangaroo imitation and try to dunk while carrying a smaller player (Nate Robinson or Earl Boykins maybe?) in a pouch like a kangaroo would a joey.
Utah Jazz: Devin Harris
Animal Equivalent: Fox
Devin Harris is tough to find a comparison for. In the end, I had to go with a fox.
The reason is that Harris is both fast and tricky. You've all heard the phrase sly like a fox before. On the defensive end of the court, Harris usually lures offensive players into traps before stealing the ball away.
Foxes are also quick but they are by no means elite animals in the world of predators. They should still be respected however.
Washington Wizards: John Wall
Animal Equivalent: Cheetah
John Wall may very well be the fastest player in the NBA right now. He's known for his blazing speed as he runs up and down the court, whether he's dribbling the ball or not.
It's only appropriate to make Wall's animal equivalent the fastest animal on land. Cheetahs can run up to 70 miles per hour as they chase down their prey.
For that reason, and that reason alone, Wall has found his comparison.