Folks, there is a new Dream Team in town. That’s right—inspired by the fantastic overlap of the return of the warmth with the NBA playoffs, I’ve drafted a lawn game All-Star team that would blow away any hypothetical cornhole competition. You can come up with your own team, but trust me: As an avid NBA fan and veteran lawn game enthusiast, I’m an authority on the subject.
Now, I need to set a few ground rules for the selection process. Whereas player positions are used to construct NBA All-Star teams, for my team I have elected to include one player for each of five chosen lawn games: Spikeball, cornhole, KanJam, wiffle ball and croquet. Those games were selected by an algorithm of popularity and my personal rankings (subjective, yet correct).
I’ve also limited the pool of available NBA players to those who are on teams still in the playoffs. This distinction is partly arbitrary, but I also like focusing in on players still in the game; it is a great honor to be selected for my lawn game team, and one I do not wish to bestow upon those whose teams failed to make the postseason (or to any Blazers players, who, after being embarrassed by the Pelicans in four games, don’t deserve to have their names said in the same sentence as the word “All-Star” ever again). Players currently injured can be picked because I said so.
With these ground rules laid out, let’s get started. First up is Spikeball. Players must read the game, decide on the fly whether to set or take it themselves, spike or finesse, and predict and respond to opponent’s actions. To me there’s only one choice for the Spikeball slot: Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics. Kyrie has great hands around the basket and routinely finishes from tough angles. He can also be jaw-droppingly crafty, throwing fakes to beguile defenders, setting up his filthy crossover and changing his shot around the rim. He would own Spikeball—I can see him now, tugging at his shooting sleeve after a sprawling dig and a well-concealed drop shot.
With Spikeball settled, we can move onto the other four games. Cornhole is obviously a classic and a sure thing for this list, but it’s really just about tossing, so I think spot-up shooters would excel. Thus I’m taking Kyle Korver, an absolute technician when it comes to his mechanics, who uses impeccable footwork to stay balanced and maintain his form coming off screens.
Shooters also seem like the best candidates for the next slot: KanJam. KanJam similarly requires consistent throws to set up your teammate for valuable three-pointers. Yet which NBA player is comfortable throwing the frisbee, specifically? I think Kelly Olynyk. His scraggly long hair and confounding facial hair scream frisbee. The challenge for Olynyk would be receiving throws around the can, but he’s shown me enough for me to be confident in his hands and his touch.
Wiffle ball presents a new set of challenges. I’m drawn to NBA players with specific baseball experience. Pat Connaughton would be a great option, as he was in fact drafted by the Baltimore Orioles; however, he is ineligible since his Blazers were exposed as frauds in the first round. Instead, my choice is the Warriors’ Klay Thompson. Thompson’s younger brother, Trayce, is an active MLB player. Imagine the Wiffle Ball games the two brothers must have played growing up together!
The final slot on the lawn game All-Star lineup goes to Steph Curry, brought on to compete in croquet, a pastime well beyond its prime, yet still a giant in our collective lawn game imaginaries. Steph’s athleticism would not be utilized, but he has demonstrated the ability to project a cultured, family-values image that would mesh well with the 19th-century English game. Plus, Curry is known as a terrific golfer, even competing last year in a Web.com tour event. Surely his acumen with the golf club bodes well for his mallet play.
So Curry becomes my fifth, alongside Thompson, Olynyk, Korver and Irving. That’s a team ready to dominate these beautiful spring week-ends. I’d go to lawn game war with that five. Who you got?