Column: Who would win an NBA Hunger Games?

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and Atlanta Hawks guard Kent Bazemore (24) battle for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Younger NBA fans hear all the time about the league is softer now than it was in our parent’s day. We may no longer have players being clotheslined on layups but the last several days have shown that today’s NBA can still have all the action and drama of a WWE ladder match. With secret invasions of locker-rooms, challenges to meet in the parking lot and punches being thrown, it got me thinking: if current NBA players were thrown into a Hunger Games-style arena, who would be the last ones standing?

The rules are simple. Two players from 12 Districts (Teams). They’ll be thrown into a standard Hunger Games arena because Quarter Quells are overrated.  

So let’s place some hypothetical bets.

Boston: Marcus Smart/Aron Baynes. This is the only pairing that doesn’t include at least one starter and it’s for good reason. Smart and Baynes are two players that don’t garner a lot of the highlights but are absolutely crucial to the Celtic’s success. Baynes is one of the toughest players in the league and Smart is always the first one to get in the middle of any dust-up on the court. Reading about the Clippers-Rockets fight, I half-expected Smart to get involved at some point. Odds: +500

Cleveland: LeBron James/Isaiah Thomas. I thought about pairing LeBron with Kevin Love here but after watching Isaiah Thomas for the last two seasons I can't bring myself to exclude him. The two are still very much working on their on court relationship but Thomas is a player that I would absolutely want on my side in just about any situation. LeBron is currently in his 15th year but is playing like it is his fifth. Another strong favorite here. Odds: +275

Golden State: Kevin Durant/Draymond Green. Including Steph Curry would definitely make this a flashier team but I can’t leave off Green. He’s one the most polarizing players in the league with his “natural kicking motion” and his Hall of Fame-tier trash talking. Green is an absolute necessity to be included.  I don’t know how long this pair will last though. Durant will likely try to join one of the stronger teams, leaving Green to fend for himself. Odds: +2000

Houston: Chris Paul/James Harden. This duo’s forte isn’t going to be brute strength. As we learned from the Rocket’s tactical breach of the Clipper’s locker-room, these two rely on cunning to get by. Remains to be seen if it will get them past the second round.  Odds: +1200

Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan. Very much out on this team. Smart enough to not let Clint “Trojan Horse” Capela into the locker-room but not smart enough to bar the doors. That’s simple stuff that any Call of Duty: Zombies player knows. Odds: +1800

Miami: Hassan Whiteside/Dion Waiters. Not a huge fan of this team. Waiters is one the league’s ultimate heat check guys which makes for entertaining television but is probably a poor strategy for surviving a battle royale. Whiteside is just a “meh” for me. There are much better big men both in this Hunger Games and in the NBA. Put your money elsewhere.  Odds: +2500

Milwaukee: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Jason Kidd. We’re pulling Jason Kidd off the bench for this one. The Greek Freak is probably the most dangerous player in this game. The guy is a practical cheetah. The same guy that can clear half a basketball court in two steps is going to have no problem chasing you down in an open field. Jason Kidd is absolutely going to want in on this action. Odds: +1500

New Orleans: Anthony Davis/DeMarcus Cousins. This is the league’s most intimidating frontcourt and I would expect it to translate over to the Hunger Games. Imagine running to the weapons pile and seeing these two behemoths standing next an armory of melee weapons. Odds: +700

Sacramento: Zach Randolph/ De’Aaron Fox. This pairing is an interesting one. A 36-year old forward and a 20-year old point guard might not seem like an ideal pairing but I could see a Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso- Mr. Miyagi relationship forming here. Fox has the makings of a big-game player, I don’t see him backing down from a fight. Zach Randolph was a member of the Jailblazers so he has experience throwing hands with NBA players. You can’t ask for a better mentor. Odds: +600

San Antonio: Kawhi Leonard/LaMarcus Aldridge. The Spurs have been ALWAYS been overlooked. I could see these two being amongst the final remaining teams just because everyone else forget about them while they were off in the corner practicing bounce passes. Odds: +375

Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook/ Paul George. Two of the NBA’s best athletes on the same team. That should scream favorite but I just don’t know if these two have “IT”.  Odds: +1500

Toronto: DeMar DeRozan/Kyle Lowry. This is the closest we have to a real-life Katniss and Peeta. DeRozan and Lowry’s bromance has long been documented. These two players are going to stick together until the very end. Which, much like the NBA Playoffs, will probably be pretty early on. Odds: +2000


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu