The top NBA contenders still have holes to fill as the playoffs approach. But with the trade deadline long past, teams are pretty much stuck with what they have. Unless they consider an extremely unconventional solution.
What’s an idea that could work for each of the league’s playoff contenders? Let some of them in need of help poach a character from a notable basketball movie.
Saving the various front offices from all sorts of headaches and second-guessing, here’s a list of which movie hoops stars could help teams out this postseason.
San Antonio Spurs: Tom “Shep” Sheppard (Above the Rim)
The league’s most business-like team gets an assist from the most business-like hooper in sports movie history. San Antonio’s built a reputation for years on making the extra pass, playing team basketball, and not getting into any off-court shenanigans. Shep (played by Leon) from Above the Rim fits this locker room like a glove.
Shep’s a prototypical 2-guard that would join a roster still looking for consistent production at that spot, considering the questions around Danny Green and Manu Ginobili’s current play.
Gregg Popovich can slot Shep right into the sixth man spot if he doesn’t want to tinker with the starting five. After all, that’s where our man made his mark in Above the Rim. He showed up to the tournament final halfway through the game, then proceeded to play flawless basketball the rest of the way.
Put Tom Sheppard and his waffle shirt on the Spurs, and you might as well just hand the Larry O’Brien trophy to Popovich right now.
Boston Celtics: Jake Shuttlesworth (He Got Game)
It’s no secret that the Celtics have a little bit of an issue with Ray Allen. It was recently announced that Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Co. will be embarking on some 10-year title anniversary vacation, and for some reason, Ray was the only one not invited.
So what better addition to the C’s roster could there be than Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel Washington), the man who made Allen’s character absolutely miserable for all of He Got Game?
In addition to this petty but rewarding act, Papa Shuttlesworth would be an asset to the roster too. It’s fairly common movie knowledge that Ray was supposed to skunk Denzel in that final 1-on-1 battle. But the old man kept bodying up and banking in weird shots to make it a game. Of course, the actual NBA superstar ultimately triumphed, but it wasn’t without some resistance.
The Celtics aren’t getting to the Finals with young pups like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart doing all the dirty work. They need some old school veteran grit and grind, which Jake Shuttlesworth has in spades.
Golden State Warriors: Chubby (Teen Wolf)
The Golden State Warriors are overstuffed with long-range shooters. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, you could make the case that they have three of the top five most dangerous marksmen in the NBA. There’s just one problem: How are they going to get open over the course of a grueling seven-game series when the opposition knows every little movement and tendency? They’ll need a devastating screen-setter.
Chubby (Mark Holton) from Teen Wolf would instantly become their most critical player. You can’t count on Javale McGee or Zaza Pachulia there. The Warriors need No. 55 from the Beacon Hills High School Beavers.
Chubby’s particulars are never actually made clear, but it’s safe to assume he is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-foot-8 and 320 pounds. You think Damian Lillard wants to run into that brick wall? Or that Tony Allen will be his regular tenacious self on defense when he knows Mount Chubby is lurking on the baseline? With this signing, the Warriors go from being a finesse team to a group that you have no interest in tangling with.
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James (Trainwreck)
It might look a tad confusing on the surface. Why would the defending champs benefit by adding a guy who’s already on their team? It’s because 2017 LeBron doesn’t seem to be having a great deal of fun.
King James has come under fire recently for resting too many games. He fired back, claiming that it’s been standard practice around the league for years and is only drawing attention now because he’s the one putting his feet up for a night. What better way to calm the Cuyahoga waters than by replacing ornery LeBron with the silly, Downton Abbey-watching version from 2015’s Trainwreck?
His scenes were, to the surprise of many, the best in the film. LeBron was perfectly natural as Bill Hader’s sidekick buddy, not overplaying his scenes as athletes are sometimes known to do when put in front of the camera.
With a happier, more easygoing four-time MVP, the Cavs mixed-up roster can start to come together as one. Newbies like Kyle Korver and the Brothers Williams (Deron and Derrick) will find the new LeBron less threatening and easier to crack jokes with.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Junior (White Men Can’t Jump)
Russell Westbrook doesn’t need another ball-handler, or a backup point guard, or a center he can half-heartedly throw it to in the post. He already produces (approximately) 98 percent of everything for the Thunder on a nightly basis. The one thing he doesn’t have? A good hype man. Enter Kadeem Hardison’s super-annoying, trash-talking Junior from White Men Can’t Jump.
Throughout the film, Junior’s at the side of Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes), talking up his boy while never really showing an ounce of on-court ability himself. He’s just there in that oversized Michael Jordan jersey and silly hat, throwing shade at everyone else while Sidney rakes in the playground dough.
The funny thing: Sidney is never even that nice to this guy who doubles as his own personal PR firm. For a guy like Westbrook who never seems all that warm and cuddly with teammates during games, this relationship looks to be the perfect match.
Los Angeles Clippers: Mickey Gordon (Forget Paris)
There are always two things holding the L.A. Clippers back come playoff time. One is overall health. Whether it’s Blake Griffin’s knee or Chris Paul’s hand, something is always nagging Doc Rivers’ bunch.
The other, conveniently, is referees. They’ve become the Clippers’ kryptonite. Of course, every NBA team does their share of complaining in the span of a 48-minute game. But the Clips take it to an extreme. It is rare that any single trip down the floor goes without a death stare from Griffin or a temper tantrum from Paul.
That’s why we’re assigning them Mickey Gordon (Billy Crystal) from Forget Paris. Mickey was an excellent official, but he often let his personal turmoil bleed onto the court. He threw out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his farewell game (Kareem’s parents, too), Isiah, Laimbeer, and even the vendor in charge of putting cheese on the nachos. (It’s never explained why this gentleman got tossed.)
He won’t make matters any better for the Clipshow, but can serve as the team’s punching bag. No longer does Doc Rivers have to worry about Paul slinging arrows at female officials. His point guard will be perfectly at peace after spending 15 minutes lashing out at the fictional Crystal instead.
Toronto Raptors: Ben Meechum (The Great Santini)
Kyle Lowry drives the bus for the Toronto Raptors. They obviously get plenty of points from DeMar DeRozan, but it’s Lowry who makes it all go. Once he was shelved with a bad wrist, the Raps hadn’t been anywhere close to as dangerous.
Which brings us to Michael O’Keefe’s character from The Great Santini. While not technically a sports movie, it does contain some bizarre but entertaining backyard action between Ben Meechum (O’Keefe) and his semi-insane father, Lt. Col. “Bull” Meechum (Robert Duvall).
The younger Meechum is an underrated ball-handler and can get to the basket at will. Also, we see that he is able to finish through contact, as evidenced by his game-winning layup that was converted despite a super dangerous mid-air shove from his father. Ben goes crashing into a wall sitting just off the court, but is no worse for the wear. It’s that type of fearlessness in the clutch that the Raptors will need in order to navigate their way through Boston and Cleveland come the playoffs.
With Cory Joseph a steady but unspectacular lead guard, the Raps will find comfort in knowing they have a battle-tested safety valve in Meechum off the pine if Lowry were to go down again.
Houston Rockets: Joe “Coop” Cooper (BASEketball)
To become a truly elite BASEketball player, you had to possess two essential skills: outside shooting and verbal defense. Having said that, could there be a more perfect marriage than Joe “Coop” Cooper (Trey Parker) joining forces with the run-and-gun, defense-optional Houston Rockets? I think not.
This has been James Harden’s m.o. for years: jack up 20-plus shots, get to the foul line a ton, and mail it in on the other end of the floor. That is literally the sport of BASEketball. You hoist jumpers and then bother the opponent with lame insults when it’s their turn “at bat.”
Cooper connects on somewhere around 96 percent of his shots throughout the movie despite an ugly, behind-the-head release reminiscent of Bill Cartwright. Such a high rate of success would be a cherished entity for the Rockets, an organization obsessed with analytics and maximizing points per possession. League experts might wonder if you could safely play both Harden and Coop on the floor at the same time given their defensive liabilities. I think it could work, if for no other reason, Coop was once willing to pretend to chop off his own finger, then have fake blood squirting all over his face — just so the opposing player would miss a shot. That’s dedication.