I like comparing athletes from different sports, whether it be for their athleticism, playing style, or overall personality. The NBA playoffs have been on every evening in my apartment lately. In watching these playoffs, I have noticed many unique skills particular players possess and thought about who these players resemble most on the tennis court.
At random, I chose eight top professional ATP tennis players and compared them to their basketball counterpart. Below are the similarities between these athletes, including what makes them special, unique, and able to perform at their highest level on the biggest of stages. If these top-ranked ATP tennis players were NBA players, here’s who they would be and why.
Gaël Monfils – Russell Westbrook
Along with being the most athletic players in their respective leagues, both athletes are extremely aggressive and have a go big or go home game style. They are also the most exciting athletes to watch in the NBA and ATP.
Nick Kyrgios – J.R. Smith
Smith plays by advice he once received from his father: “shoot every time you get [the ball]. Your shot is better than a turnover. Don’t risk turning the ball over; just shoot it.” Kyrgios has a very similar game style where he seems to go for every shot, no matter how impossible it seems. Kyrgios should take the advice of Smith’s father but should not forget to take into account that an unforced error is similar to a turnover.
John Isner – Andre Drummond
Being 6’10” and having the best serve on tour, Isner is known for keeping points short and looking for the big forehand to end the point. Listed on nba.com as 6’11”, Drummond is a dominant rebounder who is good at finishing around the rim. Similarly, Isner is a dominant server who can crank out a 140mph+ ace when he needs a quick point.
Novak Djokovic – Al Horford
Djokovic and Horford set the standard for overall professionalism and athleticism. Exuding everything solid and clean about their sports, both athletes are also known for making the right play and executing their shots.
Roger Federer – Lebron James
It’s only right. They are the kings of tennis and basketball and are known for execution, domination, and overall greatness. Class acts on and off the court, they will stay the faces of both sports for decades to come and go down in history as the best athletes to play their respective sport. That Federer was seen recently purchasing a pair of the Lebron 8 South Beach shoes, does not weaken this comparison.
Alexander Zverev Jr. – Giannis Antetokounmpo
Zverev’s overall talent level is comparable to Antetokounmpo’s. They both do the burly things a big player can do and the nimble things a smaller player can do, without sacrificing anything for this dual citizenship.
Rafael Nadal – Chris Paul
Both athletes are all-time greats and known for their scrappy style of play. They are also known for being aggressive on the court. Paul is known to carefully create holes in opposing defenses with precise dribbling and meticulous passing angles. Similarly, Nadal is known for his heavy topspin shots, angles, and aggressive game style, but he also has the athleticism to stay patient, work the points, and defend until it’s time to attack.
Stanislas Wawrinka – Damian Lillard
Both athletes are overlooked, but are constantly delivering and performing. Wawrinka is known to consistently make it to at least the quarterfinals of every Grand Slam tournament, while Lillard quietly averages 27 points-per-game and is known to deliver in the clutch.