There aren’t many times during the calendar year when the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers demand more attention than the Green Bay Packers. But with the Brewers in the hunt for an NL Central crown and the Bucks searching for their first NBA title in 50 years, the Packers have moved to an unfamiliar spot on the back burner.
Now, a tweet about a certain quarterback’s plans could immediately vault Green Bay to the forefront. But more than likely, the Packers will remain on simmer until the team closes in on training camp in late July. This has also given the Packers players some downtime, and a few of them have ventured down I-43 to take in some Bucks playoff games at Fiserv Forum.
Seeing that Aaron Jones and Za’Darius Smith look pretty dang good in a basketball jersey, it got me thinking: What would the rotation look like if the Packers roster was forced to play basketball instead? Let’s dive in.
Jaire Alexander: One of the traits that I love most in a point guard is the ability to shut down his counterpart on opposing team, and who better to do that than Jaire? Being 5-foot-10 isn’t necessarily the worst thing here, especially when you consider his pure athleticism (4.38 40-yard dash time and a 35-inch vertical). He has the lateral quickness to stay with the Trae Youngs of the world, and the swagger to go along with it. He’s a player that you can trust to make the right decision at the right time, which is about 90 percent of what a point guard’s job should be.
Now, the logical choice here should have been Aaron Rodgers. Talk about seeing the floor, having precision passing, and of course, a mean midrange jumper. But unfortunately, he might have a little too much Kyrie Irving in him — can you count on him to show up?
Davante Adams: If there’s one thing that Davante knows how to do, it’s producing. Adams has averaged better than 1,250 yards per season over the past three years, so if you had to translate that to the hardwood, could it mean a guy that averages 25 points per game? His release at the line of scrimmage is legendary. Instead of dusting guys off the line, imagine that footwork and first step channeled into taking guys off the dribble.
If he had focused full-time on basketball, which he speculated on in a 2020 article in The Undefeated, Adams sounded confident in what a different career path could have looked like.
“In an alternate reality, I think I could have made it to the NBA,” said Adams, who averaged 9.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 16 games during his senior season on the varsity basketball team at Palo Alto High School. “I’m 6-1, 6-2. That would’ve been the toughest part. But with a 43-inch vertical, I think I would be able to make up for some of the height.”
Devin Funchess: Sure, he hasn’t technically done anything for the Packers yet. But he’s on the roster and apparently has an impressive basketball pedigree, going as far as to say that his first love is basketball. He was apparently asked by former Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein to try out for the basketball team while in college and readily says that he could have played college hoops if he had wanted.
Robert Tonyan: It depends on how much stock you put into being the best player in McHenry County, Ill. during his senior year of high school, as anointed by the Northwest Herald, but it’s clear that Tonyan has some hoops abilities.
At 6’5″, 237 pounds, Tonyan would be undersized by current NBA power forward standards, but there aren’t many 6’10” guys to pick from on the Packers roster. What Tonyan has going for him is physicality and good hands, which would come in handy for rebounding and lob passes at the rim.
David Bakhtiari: Again, there aren’t any prototypical NBA frontcourt players that are just walking around the halls of Lambeau Field, so Bakhtiari gets the nod here. There are plenty of offensive tackles who weren’t necessarily the most gifted hoops players, but likely played in high school because they simply had size and athleticism. Bakhtiari isn’t small, standing 6’4″, 310 pounds, and I like his chances of getting in the right defensive stance and setting some good, hard screens on offense. Make your layups, and you’ve got a solid option here.
I’d definitely include both Jones and Smith as bench options, as clearly they have a passion for the sport. Run Jones out there with Alexander to go exceptionally small, and you might have a pace that would be tough to keep up with. Allen Lazard was a great high school basketball player, and would be great depth at the wing position, and I’d certainly bring in Marcedes Lewis off the bench to give some veteran savvy and six hard fouls a night.
The sneaky guy to bring off the bench would be Demetri Goodson, who now serves as a college scout for the team, but was a two-year starter for Gonzaga before finishing his career playing football at Baylor.
Could this team compete in the NBA? No, absolutely not. They’d get run out of the gym every single night. Would Matt LaFleur make for a good basketball coach? Maybe, but settling for a 3-point field goal means something totally different in this sport. If this squad had to play solely against NFL players, though, I’d have to say I like their chances.