The NBA playoffs are in full force right now, and it's interesting and sometimes fun to wonder how athletes might fair if they played another professional sport. Since many athletes played multiple sports as late as high school or college before choosing the one they had the best chance to go pro in, many of the skills they had in other sports may not have eroded much and could translate to another sport.
Let's take a look at five NBA players that could make the transition to the NFL, complete with the position they might be best suited to play.
1. LeBron James, F/G, Miami Heat.
James definitely has the all-around speed and athleticism to become an NFL player, and he even played football in high school before ultimately choosing basketball. Some of the full-court passes he has thrown to Dwyane Wade since joining the Miami Heat suggest ample arm strength to play quarterback, but I think the 6'8", 250-pound James would be a huge challenge for NFL defenses as a tight end or wide receiver.
2. Blake Griffin, F, Los Angeles Clippers-
Griffin has gotten a lot of attention for his explosiveness around the rim with multiple highlight reel dunks, and he has exhibited some football-style toughness by playing through various injuries this postseason. He does not have the kind of foot speed to become a skill position player, but his understanding of positioning as part of the pick-and-roll on the basketball court could make him a good offensive guard or linebacker in the NFL. Perhaps he could play on both sides of the ball?
3. Metta World Peace (AKA Ron Artest), F, Los Angeles Lakers-
World Peace showed his willingness to get physical, and lack of overall remorse beyond a requisite apology, by elbowing Oklahoma City guard James Harden late in the regular season and being suspended for the action. He is not the offensive player he was when he was younger, but World Peace still brings it on the defensive end and often spends time guarding the opposition's best perimeter threat. That would seem to make him well-suited to playing cornerback in the NFL, where he can use his long arms to gain leverage on and re-route wide receivers. World Peace seems to also have the short memory required of a cornerback if he were to be beaten, but his coaches would have to work with him on keeping his emotions in check.
4. Josh Smith, F, Atlanta Hawks-
"Smoove" generally stuffs the stat sheet on a nightly basis, and his averages during this past season (18.8 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game, 3.9 assists per game, 1.7 blocked shots per game) suggest an all-around skill set NFL coaches would surely find a way to use. That suggests a role as a jack of all trades of sorts, perhaps serving as a running back with pass catching skills that sees action as a kickoff or punt returner as well. Maybe Smith would even see time on special teams coverage units to further add to his value and certainly adhere him to coaches, assuming he can curb some of the maturity issues that have followed him as an NBA player.
5. Kevin Love, F, Minnesota Timberwolves-
Love lost noticeable weight during the NBA lockout, and also added a more prolific outside shot (as well as a beard) to his game this past season. He has continually added something to his game during his first few NBA seasons, despite limited athleticism and a lack of prowess on the defensive end. Willingness to work would be something NFL coaches find appealing, and using Love's strengths while minimizing his weaknesses would be a project some of the more egotistical coaches around the league would love to take on. I see Love fitting best as an NFL offensive lineman, perhaps as a right tackle initially with the possibility to move to left tackle if he can improve his athleticism.