Portland Trail Blazers: Could Lillard beat his original “Space Jam” counterpart?

Portland Trail Blazers - Charles Barkley Space Jam (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers - Charles Barkley Space Jam (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With all the excitement building for “Space Jam 2” coming in 2021, let’s explore a hypothetical one-on-one game between generations.

Portland Trail Blazers fans were probably excited to hear the news that franchise star Damian Lillard would be joining LeBron James in filming of the upcoming Space Jam 2.

He will be joining the likes of Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Chris Paul and WNBA stars Diana Taurasi and the Ogwumike sisters — Nneka and Chiney. This collective gang of basketball superstars are some of the best talent the NBA has ever seen. But are they better than the original Space Jam cast?

In another sign of the generational gap, you’ll notice that the Space Jam 2 cast of stars is much smaller than their counterparts. Gone are the days of lumbering 7-foot-6 giants like Shawn Bradley. In fact, the only true guard in the original Space Jam was the cartoonishly small Muggsy Bogues, standing at 5-foot-3.

That lineup would have looked something like Bogues-Larry JohnsonCharles BarkleyPatrick Ewing-Bradley. Predicting the other side of things proves to be significantly more difficult when factoring in the WNBA stars, so let’s assume the most famous of the bunch in Taurasi gets the start.

Which means the new age lineup would read Paul-Taurasi-Lillard-Thompson-Davis. That means Lillard (who typically plays point guard) who would be matched up against the charismatic Charles Barkley (who usually plays power forward).

That begs the question, could Logo Lillard defeat The Round Mound of Rebound in a one-on-one game to 21?

Although Barkley has a whopping 55 pounds weight advantage on Lillard, there’s still plenty of factors that could tilt the scales in Dame’s favor in this hypothetical game.

Neither Lillard nor Barkley are known for their defensive chops, so this game would be a duel of offensive arsenals. In that context, it’s hard not to see why the case could be made in Lillard’s favor.

Unlike Sir Charles, Dame possesses an elite handle on the ball and the agility to attack from the perimeter. While Barkley attempted to implement the 3-ball into his game, even in his career best season he only made 33.8 percent of his attempts. Lillard on the other hand is a career 36.8 percent shooter from deep and has done it on an enormous sample size of 7.4 attempts per game.

While Barkley’s deceptive athleticism and rebounding ability made him a force in the NBA, a lot of his talents are minimalized in a one-on-one setting. Lillard’s sniping-and-slashing style of play would tear apart a player like Barkley that does not have much lateral quickness due to his size.

For the sake of comparison, we will use 2018-19 Lillard and 1995-96 Barkley (the year before Space Jam) was released for statistical analysis. Both players also earned an All-NBA nomination and All-Star selection in those respective years.

Barkley had a 52.1 effective field goal percentage that year (which accounts for the point differential value between 2-point and 3-point shots) and Lillard had a 52.2 EFG percentage last year, showing just how close the margin is between these players as natural scorers.

What sets these players apart is the manner in which their points were created. Barkley averaged four offensive rebounds per game over his career, which is ridiculous in its own right. However, that means he was getting a lot of open looks from missed shots by his teammates. In a one-on-one, those shot attempts simply don’t exist. On the other hand, Barkley has never played with someone like Lillard who has demonstrated limitless range on the court.

Lillard has shown the ability to stretch the floor all the way out to 40-feet deep when necessary. Opening up the court and forcing Barkley to play tight defense that far out will give Dame the opportunity to slash right past The Prince of Pizza. Barkley only has a two-inch height and reach advantage on Lillard, so his measurables simply aren’t enough to compensate for Lillard’s one-on-one friendly style of play.

The Verdict: Lillard wins, 21-15

dark. Next. 10 best free agents on the board for the Blazers

Stick to sitting behind a desk and cracking jokes Chuck, there’s a new Monstar on the block. The Portland Trail Blazers are just lucky enough to call him one of their own.