NBA King of the Hill Tournament Staff Picks: Should Giannis Be the Favorite in 1-on-1?
Photo credit: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Here at The Action Network, we are on a mission to determine the best 1-on-1 player in the NBA. To do this, yesterday we released a 64-player bracket for this tournament, and starting Saturday, we’ll be simulating every 1-on-1 matchup in NBA 2K20.
But, of course, we couldn’t just leave it there. We’re a sports betting company, so we wanted to release our own betting odds on this tournament.
Now our panelists — Rob Perez, Matt Moore, Byran Mears and Justin Phan — are making their picks for the winner of the King of the Hill tournament.
Rob Perez: Giannis Antetokounmpo (+400)
You are about to witness the firepower of this armed and fully operational battle station. It’s very boring to pick a top one seed, but does anybody other than Kawhi Leonard plan on stopping this man in open space?
Even if Giannis can’t shoot, he could just throw the ball at the rim and pass it to himself in the paint. His athleticism, physicality, and sheer basketball dimensions are unprecedented. Oh, and by the way, he’s very likely the defensive player of the year.
Good luck getting an open look against him. There is nobody out there to set you a screen to get this seven-foot alien off of you. You’re on your own, and you will die.
Matt Moore: LeBron James (+420)
I have advocated for Giannis to win MVP over James, but that’s for individual season performance in a 5-on-5 environment. James’ bracket is easier, he’s not likely to face a big or an omega wing until the final four. He’s a pick ‘em for me vs. Kevin Durant, but I’m giving James a slight edge based on his physicality.
LeBron brings the physical strength and athleticism advantage of the bigs vs. the guards, and a skill advantage over Giannis in a potential final matchup. He’s the best player in the league over the past 12 years. I think if he had gotten another lie, maybe he goes down (he does have weaknesses, especially at 35).
But with where he landed in our tournament? He has the best shot.
Hail to the King.
Bryan Mears: Giannis Antetokounmpo (+400)
NBA players like Rudy Gobert, Leonard and others, get the lion’s share of public praise on the defensive end of the floor. But if we’re talking about a 1-on-1 tournament, where you need to have length, quickness, rim protection, agility, and so forth, Giannis is the best defender in the world. I don’t know how you consistently score on a 7-footer with his skillset.
The only question is offense, particularly shooting. But that will only rear its head towards the end of the tournament, and who knows what happens to the other players by then. There are very few players, if any, who can stop him from getting to the rim, and there’s a chance he won’t even face any of them. Giannis has the highest floor and ceiling. He’s a monster on NBA 2K. He’s got to be the pick.
Justin Phan: Kawhi Leonard (+350)
Kawhi may be the only player in the league without a real weakness. He’s the best tough shot-maker out there and has proven he can score efficiently from every spot on the floor. As the focal point of his team’s offense, he’s shot exactly 50/40/90 over his two most recent playoffs runs.
On the other end of the floor, he has finished in the 95th percentile or better at his position in steal rate every year he’s been in the league. He has the size to battle Giannis and Joel Embiid around the rim, and the lateral quickness to lock up James Harden and Kyrie Irving on the perimeter.
Go down the checklist of what you need to win King of the Hill — getting buckets, getting stops, forcing turnovers, rebounding the ball, adjusting to different matchups — and Kawhi is the logical choice. If there’s a reason to go with Giannis instead, it’s that Kawhi has the toughest path to the Finals with Durant likely waiting for him in the quarterfinals.