One-on-one is the purest form of basketball domination. There are no excuses, no explanations. You can either let your opponent undress you or you can lay the smack down. It’s simple, fast and ruthless. It’s two parts skill and eight parts swagger.
It’s also the missing element of All-Star Weekend. Who could stop Dwight Howard? Would anyone be able to score on LeBron? Endless matchups and endless possibilities. So that’s why I (Dylan Murphy) decided to construct my dream scenario. Although there are whispers that a one-on-one tournament might happen in reality, I’m not patient enough. Well, not patient at all.
After careful research and input from our various Dime contributors, I’ve compiled a list of the top 16 one-on-one players in the NBA. Keep in mind that these are the one-on-one guys. As much as I love Kevin Love, he’d find his guts spilled all over the court. Same to you, Blake. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing you throw one down on Kevin Durant.
I’ll be posting a narrative of each matchup, detailing the advantages and deficiencies of each player against his opponent. But while I may have my opinions, it’s up to you to pick the winner. So pick a winner at the bottom of each matchup post and tell us whom you think would move on. A majority vote will ultimately decide the victor.
Of course the rules of one-on-one are varied, so let’s get a few things clear:
1) Game To 11 (win by two) â€“ If the score is 10-10, it’s win by two or first to 15, whichever comes first. So when you’re picking the winner, consider whether the matchup will be close. LeBron may be great, but will he choke? Can Derrick Rose get a stop by himself when it counts?
2) Call Your Own Fouls â€“ Which means, unless you get blatantly hacked, keep your mouth shut. Players like D-Wade and Paul Pierce won’t be able to rely on facial contortions and body flailing to draw the foul â€“ they can’t afford a bad rap out on the hardwood.
3) Take Back Everything Beyond The Three-Point Line â€“ One-on-one is a game of honor, prestige and equality. Getting a turnover or forcing an air ball doesn’t give you the right to cash in on an easy putback dunk. If you want buckets, get by your defender first.
4) Everything Is Worth One Point â€“ The NBA may provide an extra bonus for long shots, but one-on-one does not. Any fool can hoist bombs and miraculously come out with a win. Real ballers get to the cup, no questions asked. If you want to rain jumpers all day, go right ahead. Just remember you’ll have to hit 11 of them.
5) Loser’s Ball â€“ If you want to win, get stops. Plain and simple. You can’t solely ride offensive momentum to victory in the NBA, so one-on-one is no different. Monta Ellis was probably angry when he read those words.
6) Neutral Setting â€“ Every game will (in our minds) be played on a neutral floor in front of a sellout crowd and televised nationally. Can the stars handle the pressure of the bright lights?
7) Shoot For Ball â€“ From the three-point line. Looks like Dwight will never get the ball first.
Before you jump down my throat because the rankings are wrong or I left someone out, remember that this was a compilation of general agreement. Don’t get me wrong â€“ basically no one in the office has agreed on a single order. The following is my best attempt to satisfy most parties. If you feel your man got slighted, he’ll just have to prove it on the court.
Anyway, the tournament begins later today. In case you’re looking for a further breakdown of the games, we’ve brought in the big guns for some expert analysis. ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas was kind enough to share his thoughts on each matchup.
In the meantime, check out the bracket above (click to enlarge). It’s about to go down…
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