10 Current NBA Players Who Could Survive in the 90’s
Today's NBA game is soft, but there are modern-day players who could make it in the league's heyday.
The current version of NBA basketball has evolved, but not necessarily in a good way. Most consider the 1980s and 90s as the league’s best years. During this time period, players were much tougher and more mature. They weren’t crying over touch fouls — instead, they simply got even. The modern-day NBA is nothing like that at all. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The fans want to watch a brand of basketball, similar to what we have seen in the Eastern Conference semifinals series between the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards. We’re talking elite talent and elite competition to match. While there are plenty of talented players in the NBA right now, there are only a select few ready to play 90s-style basketball right now. Here are 10 names who could hang with the big boys.
John Wall is certainly not lacking in the talent department. Dating back to his brief stint with the Kentucky Wildcats, it was evident that he was going to be a star. But, not only is Wall a great basketball player. He’s a pretty good trash-talker as well. The Wizards star is also no stranger to his fair share of physical altercations. Just ask Quincy Acy or Jae Crowder. Wall is a tough player who won’t allow the physicality of the game overwhelm him. That’s actually how he prefers it.
DeMarcus Cousins is probably the most misunderstood man in the NBA. During his time his time in Sacramento, he was painted out to be a villain, which was far from the case. One thing that’s not up for debate, is that he’s the best center in the league. During the 90s, there were plenty of great players at the position and in today’s game, there’s a shortage. With a unique skill set like the one Cousins has, he could have really been a force. Plus, all of that built up aggression he has could’ve been well suited for the time period.
Draymond Green is one of the most well-rounded players in all of basketball. He’s proven he can score, rebound, defend, the list goes on. While he’s a pretty good basketball player, he may be even better at being a nuisance on the court. Physicality is the name of the game when it comes to Green, to the point where some people might call him dirty. He’d be one of the villains in the 90s, a la Ron Artest and Bill Laimbeer. It’s not hard to imagine him getting in countless altercations, especially when the refs let them play.
Don’t let the size fool you. Isaiah Thomas has plenty of heart. He’s got plenty of game, too. The diminutive Celtics guard is one of the NBA’s most lethal scorers and can get hot at any given moment. His size has never been a deterrence, either. In fact, he relishes it because it’s make things that much sweeter when he gives them the blues. IT4 is not going to back down from anybody, a valuable trait for a player during the 90s, one of the most competitive eras of basketball. He talks a big game and can certainly back it up.
Enough of the talk about LeBron being soft or a crybaby. People who say that just don’t like the man. He’s the most physically gifted player in the world and it’s not up for debate. When he’s locked in, there’s not one player past or present who can stop him from doing what he wants to on the basketball court. Sure, he whines sometimes but most players do. LeBron would adapt to the physical style of play with no problem, as he has all the tools to dominate the same way he does now.
The Miami Heat are in the beginning stages of the post-Big 3 era, but they have found a role player that they like in Johnson. He’s a physical, no-nonsense type of guy. He has a track record of standing up for his teammates and getting into the mix. He is no star, but he wouldn’t get ran off the court either. Johnson has shown an ability to get to the basket on offense and leading the charge defensively as well. Enforcers are rarely the best player on the team anyway, so it’s not hard to see him sliding into that role.
Some would make the case that Russell Westbrook is the best player in the league right now. They’d have a case, too. He’s a walking triple-double, having his fingerprints all over the game every night he steps out on the floor. Westbrook is one of the game’s biggest competitors, more so now than ever. With his combination of athleticism and skill, it’s easy to see why he would thrive in the 90s. Most importantly, the level of competition may even bring something out of him that we’ve never seen before, which is hard to believe.
Butler is one of the NBA’s brightest young stars, arguably a Top 15 player right now. He’s the best two-way shooting guard, excelling on both ends of the court. His game has developed tremendously since entering the league. He can score at will and get in the grill of opposing players on defense. While Butler is not the most vocal player, he surely isn’t the one to mess with. His rough upbringing made him the tough player that he is today and he would have absolutely no problem adjusting to the way the game was played in the 90s.
Antetokounmpo is a player unlike one we have ever seen before. He’s 6’11” and can handle the rock and glide up and down the floor like a guard. He doesn’t fit into one particular position. Instead, he can just about play anywhere on the court. His length alone would cause nightmares for his opponents. He’s not very bulky, so they may try to punk him. That is, until he swats their shot or puts them on a poster. They don’t call him the “Greek Freak” for nothing.
James Harden is one of, if not, the toughest player in the NBA to defend 1-on-1. He’s crafty with the ball in his hands and has a knack for getting to the foul line. He’ll be scoring so easily, opposing teams would definitely try to rough him up as much as possible. Harden isn’t as well known for his defensive prowess, but with his natural scoring ability, it won’t matter. Either you can score or you can’t. The physical nature of the 90s won’t stop him from putting the ball in the basket.