The Uncle Drew ad campaign by Pepsi MAX is one of the better basketball-related advertisements to come along in a long time. Not since the days of Johnny Kilroy, Grandmama, Lil’ Penny and Mars Blackmon has a single character been more a part of mainstream media.
Uncle Drew is brought to life by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who after hours of makeup, invades an outdoor court perusing for a pickup game as a sweatpants-clad old man. However, once on the court, Uncle Drew unleashes his moves and his game on the way to pure domination.
In honor of Uncle Drew revolutionizing and bringing “Old Man Game” back to the forefront, I put together two teams compromised of players in the NBA today that have “old man at the YMCA” games. The split between the teams isn’t based off talent, but instead the more old school the player’s game, the higher the team they were put on.
Without further ado, here are the First Team and Second Team All-Uncle Drew squads.
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PG- KYRIE IRVING
There’s no way we could leave the man, the myth, the legend, Uncle Drew himself off this list. Without Irving, Drew would never have been created. Irving wrote and directed the first chapter of the Uncle Drew saga. In the NBA, his game mirrors that of Drew’s as well. In an age where players like Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook continue to evolutionize the point guard position with their size and athleticism, Irving is a throwback lead guard. He uses his skill, handle, shooting stroke and basketball knowledge to dominate the league.
SG – JAMES HARDEN
Harden has tons of athleticism compared to Andre Miller. However, he plays at a slow pace and uses his craftiness with the ball to lull defenders to sleep. No one play sums this up better than when Harden let the ball roll down court during a playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, only to pick it up behind the arc and splash down a three on an unsuspecting DeAndre Liggins. Harden’s attention to small details like footwork are things that will allow him to play until a late age. A gray-bearded Harden could easily hold his own in open runs with Uncle Drew.
SF – PAUL PIERCE
Pierce, much like Harden, plays the game at a slower pace than his contemporaries. Whereas players like LeBron James, Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay are often seen on SportsCenter flying through the air and making spectacular athletic plays, Pierce would rather isolate at the wing, use his physicality and strength to create space before sinking in an effortless pull-up jumper. For years, Pierce has gone to his patented foul line-extended step-back jumper in clutch situations, yet not too many defenders have been successful in stopping it.
PF – TIM DUNCAN
When your nickname is “The Big Fundamental” you belong on this list. Duncan has never been a flashy person on or off the court. He often gets criticized for being boring. However, this “boring” style of play has produced Duncan four championships. He is thought of as the all-time greatest power forward to ever play. Duncan won’t necessarily amaze anyone with the moves he makes or the way he plays, but as Bill Russell told Drew, “this game has always, and will always be, about buckets.” Tim Duncan knows how to put the ball in the hoop.
C – ROY HIBBERT
Before the season, Roy Hibbert wasn’t necessarily in contention for the best center in the game argument, but now his name is mentioned among the likes of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Brook Lopez and Marc Gasol as the top centers in the NBA. Hibbert, much like Duncan, doesn’t do things that stand out athletically, yet he gets the job done. Hibbert is able to control the paint both offensively and defensively simply by playing smart basketball. On offense, he makes quick moves down low to score and on defense, he doesn’t allow an opponent to just stroll through the lane. Hibbert would be a very nice addition to the tandem of Drew and Wes we’ve seen formed so far.
PG – ANDRE MILLER
Miller is not the quickest of guards, he’s not a great shooter, he doesn’t have out of this world skills, but what he does have is a high basketball IQ. And Miller uses this to his advantage every minute he is out on the court. If a defender is quicker than him, he takes them immediately to the paint. If a defender is stronger than him, he creates for his teammates. Miller uses his head to outplay his opponents, something an old school baller like Uncle Drew would appreciate.
SG- EVAN TURNER
Turner is slotted as a two-guard on this team, but he is truly position-less. Turner has the ability to handle the ball as well as some point guards and the size to allow him to matchup with some small forwards. While he isn’t the greatest shooter in the world, Turner’s ability to drive and slash to the rim have made him stick out during his time in the NBA. Give him the ball and open space, and nine times out of ten, Turner will end up at the hoop. Uncle Drew can knock it down from deep, but for the most part a lot of his highlight plays come from his ability to get in the paint, something Turner is very adept at.
SF- JARED DUDLEY
Dudley is not one of the best small forwards in the NBA, and he is far from a superstar for the Phoenix Suns. What lands Dudley a spot on this team is that he is one of the best all-around, old school players in the league. There isn’t much Dudley can’t do on a basketball court. He can shoot, pass, dribble, defend… everything. On top of all that, he also isn’t an elite athlete and has to rely more on his own talent to get by. Uncle Drew is a jack-of-all-trades as well — his pocket pass to Wes was a thing of beauty.
PF- KEVIN LOVE
Just like the list wouldn’t be complete without Uncle Drew, the same could be said about the man who brought Wes to life in Chapter 2. Kevin Love is no Blake Griffin when it comes to athleticism and bringing fans to their feet, yet he is — when healthy — the best power forward in the NBA. That is because he has developed a nearly flawless game. He can grab rebounds with just about anyone, his outlet passes look like a Mariano Rivera pitch, and he is a knockdown shooter from deep. Love’s ability to make an impact in many ways without having to rely solely on athleticism is something Uncle Drew would be proud of.
C- AL JEFFERSON
Jefferson is one of the league’s best low-post scorers. Give Jefferson one-on-one coverage and it’s money in the bank. Like Love, Jefferson is not a superior athlete. What he does have is skills and if you underestimate him even for a moment, you could very well end up getting embarrassed a la Uncle Drew at the park crossing up “youngbloods.” If Jefferson can get out of Utah and into a better media market, his name will definitely become more popular. He brings results.
Who are the most old school players in the NBA?
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