NBA Hypothetical '21' Battle: Stephon Marbury v. Steve Francis v. Russell Westbrook

Most of you know how to play the popular pick up basketball game ’21.’ But for those of you who don’t, it works like this: A number of players (anywhere from 3 to 10!) gathers on the court and fights for rebounds and goes 1 on however many to score. After a player scores, usually 2 points regardless of whether it is a two or three, he is awarded three free shots, which are either from the free throw line, or more usually, the top of the arc. After three shots, you can either “check the guy up,” and force him to try to score another field goal, or let him keep shooting and pray he misses. Depending on how tired the players are, sometimes the latter strategy is employed out of sheer laziness.

So, who would win such a game between Starbury, Stevie Franchise, and Westbrook?

I’m not sure, but I see advantages and disadvantages to all three.

Starbury advantage: Best shooter of the three. He would nail most of his free shots from three, and that can account for 60% of your scoring if you get hot. Starbury shoots awesome when he does heat up too, which would make it likely that he rarely missed his free shots.

Starbury disadvantage: Starbury is the worst rebounder of the three, so he would have to get a lot of loose balls and steals. He can’t get up as high as Francis nor Westbrook.

Westbrook advantage: The strongest of the three players. Westbrook could easily take either in the post, and if the other is too lazy to help out, that means Westbrook is going to get a lot of good looks.

Westbrook disadvantage: Worst shooter. He would have trouble hitting 45% of his threes, even wide open like in 21.

Francis advantage: Best rebounder. Francis rebounded exceptionally well for a guard and would have the most possessions.

Francis disadvantage: Would also struggle with freebies, and would be the worst at getting to loose balls because both Starbury and Westbrook are quicker to the ball.

So, who would win?

I’m not sure.

Like I said, I see arguments for all three players, but I think if I had to make a bet, it would be on Francis. Francis is an all around athlete and a very good one on one player. Both Westbrook and Starbury can go one on one well, too, but I don’t think either could stop Francis, while the converse may not be so true. Francis is a good defender and could give both Westbrook and Starbury problems if they tried to get too clever & crafty with the ball.

It would be an epic showdown to be sure, and count me among the many who would pay to see such a hypothetical showdown on Pay Per View. Unfortunately, Francis is now old and retired, Marbury is playing in China, and Westbrook is at his prime and would destroy either. So, we’ll never see it. But that’s what debates of this nature are for.

Tags: Russell Westbrook Stephon Marbury Steve Francis

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