Let's rank the remaining NBA playoff teams by pitching ability
Many other sites on the internets feature NBA Playoffs breakdowns using "statistics" and "scouting reports" or other nerdy stuff like that. Well, here's a little bit of basketball analysis that's a bit more in our wheelhouse: ceremonial first pitches.
Below is one first pitch to represent each of the eight remaining playoff teams, ranked from worst to first. Are they predictive of future hardcourt success? MAYBE.
Wall is one of the most exciting young players in basketball and even has his own theme song. This GIF shows why he isn't one of the most exciting young players in baseball:
Leonard's gutty defense on LeBron James made him the breakout star of the 2013 NBA Finals and he's San Antonio's heir apparent whenever the Big Three era ends. But if the small forward's first pitch skills are any indication, that athleticism is limited to the basketball court:
Nets power forward Kevin Garnett will always be linked, in part, to the Boston Celtics. He played a key role in their title run in 2008, and even managed to help showcase David Ortiz' defensive prowess on this sub-par first toss:
The Pacers acquired Turner at the trade deadline with the hope that he might help boost their somewhat stagnant offense. That hasn't really happened. And so, let's look at Turner's 2010 first pitch in Philadelphia as a metaphor for the Pacers' season -- full of promise, but ultimately in the dirt:
Sorry for the flashbacks, citizens of Seattle. We couldn't find any record of a first pitch by a current Thunder player, so we're dipping back to the OKC's previous incarnation as the Team That Must Not Be Named. Thankfully, Gary Payton is the absolute best, so his awesomeness should help offset the sadness that comes about whenever one mentions the [whisper] SuperSonics:
No. 3: LeBron James -- Miami Heat
King James knows how to throw out a first pitch. You see, it's not just about the quality of the offering itself, but also the pomp and circumstance of the moment. Watch as the NBA's best player (back when he was just a rookie) shows everyone how it's done:
We don't have a first pitch from any of the current Blazers (presumably because Damian Lillard refuses to do anything but close), so let's check in on Portland legend and former NBA Champion Bill Walton. It's hard to see from this angle, but note how little the catcher's glove moves -- the perfect sign of a good pitch:
You probably know Blake Griffin as the guy who did this and this and this. But if he ever needed a summer hobby, he should follow in the steps of Tracy McGrady and try his hand at pitching. Back when he was just a newly-drafted rookie, he visited Dodger Stadium and showed off excellent mechanics:
And so, indisputably, the Clippers are going to win the NBA Finals.
Of course, the real NBA first pitch G.O.A.T. would dominate all these guys: