Blog Entry

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

Posted on: August 12, 2010 10:19 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

That's the question NBA blogger Matt Moore (what, even the Panthers quarterback needs a hobby) and I set out to answer in a series of emails Thursday night when Brandon Marshall announced he was heading to the NBA if the NFL lockout actually occurs. These are those emails.

Brinson : So, Brandon Marshall wants to play in the NBA when/if the NFL gets locked out. Unfortunately, there's not enough roster spots to go around for my NFL peeps to just make the jump (not to mention 75% of them couldn't make it in the L), but it kind of brings up an interesting question: which guys from the NFL could ball it up in the NBA?

I think at some point we've discussed crossing over the other way (Bron would be an epic tight end and Allen Iverson's high school tapes still make me drool) but who the hell is your first pick from the NFL pool if you're creating a basketball team? Or, alternately, could Marshall make it? At 6'4", 230 he at least has the body, if not the game.

Moore: As I said in my post (SYNERGY, BABY), he's got a combo-guard's body, but a small forward's skillset. Maybe with his soft hands and awareness, his handle would actually be pretty good. Wait, why does it sound like I'm building his profile? Anyway, his athleticism would transfer, and that's really the big determining factor. Athleticism is at a premium in the NBA. Work ethic and focus are much more important in the NFL, and that's why guys like Wes Welker likely wouldn't translate well. But Marshall is kind of an ideal candidate.

I'd be interested to see some of the taller, slimmer defensive ends at power forward and center. But even then, most would be too small. Julius Peppers is 6-7 and 283. That's small forward height with power forward weight. As a comparison, Josh Smith is 6-9 and 234. That weight differential is what would probably make the most awkward translation. Then again, most NBA players would likely be destroyed by the sheer physical nature of these guys.

Brinson: I love that you thought of Wes Welker, who's barely taller than me . (Although, hey, Earl Watson, Muggsy and Spud made it ...) But you're right -- Marshall would be a good candidate to shift leagues.

As would Peppers, who, I'm sure you know, played ball at Carolina. So he's got a pedigree, not to mention being a freakish athlete. Size would be an issue, though: you almost never see NFL players even sniff the high end of six feet.

Also, think about guys like Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates (who also played basketball). Gates is 6'4", 260 and fast, which makes him an unbelievable tight end prospect. But in the NBA? He'd be a fat shooting guard. (Or, so Gates doesn't beat me up next time I see him, how about "stocky"?)

Moore: I mean, that's really the issue. It's not a matter of the NBA guys being more athletic, it's that they're athletic at the things which make them good at basketball. How's that for some obvious analysis? Essentially, all those high flying catches you see in the NFL? That's an average NBA jump. That's "kind of trying for a rebound on the perimeter" in the NBA.

Now, the explosiveness would probably translate. The way tight ends, defensive linemen, linebackers, running backs, and receivers come out of their breaks? That would work well on the perimeter, provided they could dribble. Of course, they'd have to be able to finish at the rim, but then you'd think the hyper aggression might get them there.

Hey here's an idea. Ray Lewis versus Kevin Garnett. I know they're both past their primes, but think of the insanity on the floor.

Brinson: Yeah, I'm pretty confident that Gates can dunk without any real issue, but he's not going to be going against six-foot-tall DBs when he's attacking the hoop or boxing out people on the block. Or as you put it "kind of trying for a rebound on the perimeter," a.k.a. a "Vince Carter Rebound."

Here's the other problem -- how many shots is Gates going to get off with J-Smoove guarding him? Like 10 out of every 20 with a lot fadeaways mixed in?

How about instead, we just bring Tractor Traylor out of retirement and have he and Andre Smith go NBA Jam style with Garnett and Ray-Ray? Fat AND crazy -- that's something I can get behind.

Moore: Bringing it back home, if Marshall can shoot, then I think he could conceivably make a roster. I mean, how many guys at the end of a bench are there only for their athleticism? I think that the size differential between NFL (shorter and more muscle) and NBA (longer and lankier) means it's going to be difficult for anyone, but Marshall's receiver-to-combo-guard may be the model.

You know, if we can't get Tractor Traylor back.

Do you think Marshall could ball in the NBA? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @cbssportsnfl and @cbssportsnba .

Since: Dec 23, 2008
Posted on: August 13, 2010 2:39 pm

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

HaHa, yea just like LeBron could play in the NFL.

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: August 13, 2010 1:48 pm

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

Josh Smith is a foward, why would he be covering a 2 guard in Brandon Marshall? I don't think he can make it in the league. Really, what makes this guy think he can play with them and people who have dedicated their whole lives to basketball are still waiting to get a phone call to be on a practice squad.  Like the first post said, nobody wanted to pick up Tracy McGrady so what makes Marshall think he really can make it, Im sure he is not better than T-Mac, even if he is diminishing rapidly.  I honestly think Calvin Johnson other than Antonio Gates, would have the best chance.  Intresting to know Bradford was good at hoops. Never would have guessed that.

Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: August 13, 2010 1:18 pm

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

Brandon Marshall is a great athalete so yah he probably could play, but there's still the question of his actual basketball IQ and his jumpshot. Do we even know if he can shoot? I could see a guy like Josh Smith chasing down Marshall and swatting the hell out of his shot off the backboard.

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: August 13, 2010 12:09 pm

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

Sam Bradford was actually a pretty good high school basketball player, but I doubt he's NBA caliber. He could challenge Tony Romo for NFL's best golfer though.

Since: Oct 11, 2006
Posted on: August 13, 2010 9:51 am

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

Oh yeah, CJ would be  a beast. Also, I vaguely remember that Randy Moss was a great high school basketball player, and Terrell Owens always did pretty well in the celebrity games. How about Michael Oher? He claims that basketball was his first love. Imagine a big, huge, ginormous Big Baby out there just destroying in the paint.

But the guy I've heard was the best basketball player in the NFL for years was Tony Gonzalez. He's not as young as he once was, but isn't he supposedly the best all-around game? I'd have to google for the articles, but I remember that he used to work out playing ball with NBA players and he far from embarrassed himself. It seems like tight ends would generally be the biggest beasts. Gates was mentioned, but how about Vernon Davis? Physical specimen, the guy looks like a super hero and can run and jump. Can he ball?

Bringing it back to short guys like Welker, Nate Robinson would have probably been in the NFL if he hadn't made what many in Washington at the time thought was a questionable decision to focus on basketball when he was UW's best defender. It worked out pretty well for him.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: August 13, 2010 8:46 am

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

WOW. Good call. We egged on that. I'm working up something on Marshall's agent saying Marshall's shot sucks over at the NFL blog -- I'll drop a note in there.
-- WB

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: August 13, 2010 2:34 am

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

Honestly, I am dissapointed Calvin Johnson's name did not come up one.  He is the player I have wanted to see on the hardwood since he was "mossin" everybody for Georgia Tech.  I just can't see how all of you left him out.

Since: Oct 29, 2007
Posted on: August 13, 2010 12:55 am

Could Brandon Marshall play in the NBA?

On a buster team with zero attendance and no players.  Yes as a gimmick.  On a playoff-caliber team that actually has a roster and a fan base.  Hell to the No.   There are guys on the playgrounds that actually had college careers that would destroy Marshall and they can't make a roster.  Why the hell would any real team waste a roster spot on a guy that didn't even play at the high D1 level?

TMac could barely land a job but Marshall thinks he can simply join a team?  I'm not saying their aren't desperate and stupid GMs out there that may give him a look but they would soon be out of a job.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or