Anyone who watches the NBA and watches soccer will be able to tell you about the many parallels between the two. The sports share similarities in build-up play and the very essence of the game (to put the ball in the net) is identical. When I watch soccer on the weekends I cannot help, but to see similarities between players in both sports. The following is some of the comparisons I have found most fitting.
Jabari Parker – Daniel Sturridge
When Sturridge is healthy he is a force to be reckoned with, he is a dynamic player finishing plays in front of goals. Much like Jabari he has struggled to stay healthy in his time in the Premier League. Both of these players are great scorers that use their athleticism and quickness to their advantage.
John Henson – Thibaut Courtois
John Henson massive Chelsea fan shares his enormous stature with the current Chelsea keeper. Courtois is 6’6.5″ which while small by NBA standards makes him the biggest player on most soccer pitches. Courtois for years was a back-up for Chelsea being sent to other teams on loan, similar to Henson’s situation of being a persistent backup and never a starter. Courtois has broken through this year and here’s hoping Henson can do the same soon.
Jason Terry – Yaya Toure
Toure like Terry is on the wrong side of 30, but is a legend in his sport. He is a terrific defender and has been a monster in the midfield for years. Like Jason Terry Toure also has great touch from outside the box (arc). Toure was never the scorer Terry was, but he has scored a fair amount for a holding midfielder. Both are well known for their post scoring celebrations, with Terry coining the JET down the court, Toure has a chant that the crowd sings after he scores.
Khris Middleton – Paul Pogba
Khris Middleton is very similar to Paul Pogba in how fans perceive him, lots of their actions go unnoticed by fans. They are both great players that been undervalued at different points in their careers. Pogba failed to shine in his first senior debut with Manchester United only to shine for Juventus, very similar to how Khris was nothing special in Detroit. Pogba has outstanding touch from outside and has some very impressive shots from long range in his career very much like Middleton. While Middleton may not have Pogba’s flair, they are very similar in the results they get. Pogba has been on several promising young player lists, Khris has also made these types of lists for the NBA. Pogba is loved by analytics based soccer fans, the same type of basketball fans love Khris Middleton. They are both two way players that make an impact on both ends.
Malcolm Brogdon – N’golo Kante
It has been said by soccer fans that 1 Kante wins you the Premier League, 2 Kantes could win the champions league, and 11 could conquer the world. Something similar could be said about Brogdon’s time at Virginia, where he won two ACC titles and took second one year as well. Both of these guys play with wisdom beyond their years, they are ready to go to war night in and night out. Both have a defensive focus with offensive talent, Brogdon was ACC DPOY and Kante has gathered similar praise for his defense.
Greg Monroe – Diego Costa
Costa is known for his chirping both to the refs and other players. Monroe is potentially the biggest “and-1” yeller since Carlos Boozer. Both of these players give you offense and not much on the other end, Costa is one of the leagues leading scorers and Monroe is usually one of the NBA’s leading post scorers. Both use their brute strength to score against weaker defenders.
Matthew Dellavedova – Moussa Sissoko
Sissoko was acquired for a large chunk of change in the summer transfer window and has failed to meeting starting eleven level of play. Both have failed to meet the level of money spent of them, and have been relegated to bench roles at times during the season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Alexis Sanchez
The Chilean national Sanchez is the life force of Arsenal this season, they succeed as he succeeds and if they lose it is often despite his heroics. Sound familiar to a certain Greek Freak? Both of these stars have traveled across the world to have the opportunity to showcase their talents. They are both tremendous athletes who are great with the ball in their possession. Sanchez is also a monster in transition creating opportunities on counter attacks the same way Giannis does off turnovers.
These sports share distinct similarities despite their differences, there are players who just play very similar despite the different sports. A lot of the NBA’s European stars have remarked that they wanted to play soccer, but ended up being too tall. Steve Nash always talked about how build-up play in soccer made him into a better point guard. When you watch a soccer match you see the cutting and runs that works very similar to half court sets in basketball. The aforementioned similarities were ones that stood out to me, feel free to hit me up with any you see on twitter! (@junesfoshiz)