While Major League Baseball continues to negotiate with its players over how to begin a 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has already finalized a plan to complete its own interrupted campaign.
The basketball season was in its home stretch when the lockdown began in March, forcing them to suspend play until it was safe to continue. They’ll resume on July 31, but only featuring the 22 teams that have a chance at making the playoffs. The Golden State Warriors, who carried the worst record in the sport after an injury-plagued winter, will not be invited to participate, meaning their offseason has already begun.
With the Warriors sitting around with no sport to play, and the Oakland A’s still waiting for their own chance to take the field, I have an imaginary solution: What if the Warriors played some baseball instead? If they did, here’s what their lineup might look like, based on their current roster.
C: Ky Bowman
Bowman is the backup point guard. He isn’t a big scorer but rather more of a traditional point man, making plays, setting up his teammates, and serving as a field general. Sounds like a catcher to me! Plus, at “only” 6’1, he physically makes more sense crouching behind the plate than some of the taller players whose knees might not be happy about the assignment.
1B: Marquese Chriss
He’s not the tallest guy on the team, but he’s big enough at 6’9 and he’s currently the starting center. And while there are taller big men to choose from, Chriss brings some muscle as well, hopefully helping him hit for some power.
2B: Jordan Poole
Other than Chriss, the theme turns out to be smaller guards in the infield, and bigger forwards in the outfield. The shooting guard Poole was last year’s 1st-round draft pick, and his biggest strength is his long-range shot — a second baseman with some surprising pop? On the court you might see Steph Curry feed him a pass to set him up to score, but on the diamond you’d see Curry flip him the ball as a double-play combo.
SS: Steph Curry
He’s the best player on the Warriors, so it makes sense he’d play the most important position on the diamond. But don’t take it from me — this one actually has a basis in real life, according to this 2016 article by John Shea of the S.F. Chronicle: “He was a top-of-the-order hitter. Effective with two strikes. No power. Mostly a middle infielder and center fielder. Never a pitcher like his dad. Back in the day, Stephen Curry played baseball.”
We didn’t quite get Michael Jordan in an A’s uniform back in the 90s, but Steph would look awfully good in one. Including that hat.
3B: Damion Lee
Wrapping up the infield guards, Lee is slightly bigger than Poole and Curry so he gets the hot corner instead of a middle spot. That means it’s an All-Curry left side of the infield, as Lee is his brother-in-law.
LF: Eric Paschall
Paschall feels like a classic A’s misfit toy, as a 2nd-round pick (there are only two rounds in the NBA draft) who panned out into a surprise rookie sensation. He’s a natural scorer on the court, and looks like he could roll out of bed and hit 20 homers. His defense isn’t as good as his offense, so we’ll hide his glove in LF.
CF: Andrew Wiggins
The former No. 1 overall draft pick has a game based almost entirely on elite athleticism. I can see him being Ramon Laureano out in center, maybe not always taking the best route to the ball but then making it up by simply outrunning gravity.
RF: Draymond Green
The former Defensive Player of the Year would make sense at multiple spots, and in fact one of his trademarks on the court is the fact that he can strongly defend players at any of the five positions. I’m giving him right field, for two reasons. First, he’s got the bulk to profile as a classic RF slugger. Second, one of his other trademarks is his full-court passes that he drops perfectly into the hands of a teammate waiting under the opposite basket — that’s a right fielder’s arm if I’ve ever seen one.
(Note: It looks like Draymond was playing first base in the softball game pictured above.)
DH: Kevon Looney
This one is a bit ironic, since Looney is a defensive specialist on the court rather than a scorer, so this feels like putting Andrelton Simmons in the DH spot. But Looney has also missed a lot of time to chronic injuries, and giving him this lighter role might help him stay healthier. Anyway, he’s the kind of selfless team player who will do whatever you ask of him, so if his job is to hit then he’ll learn to hit.
Utility: Juan Toscano-Anderson
He only played 13 games for the Warriors, as a late-season replacement out of the G-League (aka minors) after they shipped away some veterans at the trade deadline. So far he’s been a better defender than scorer, and he seems like the kind of smart, scrappy player who could plug in anywhere the team might need him on the diamond and find a way to contribute as a role player. He recently showed off some leadership skills, too, helping organize a peaceful protest at Lake Merritt last week.
SP: Dragan Bender
His name is Bender and he’s seven feet tall, so he’s automatically a pitcher. I have no idea if he can actually throw a breaking ball in real life, but he’s named after one and that’s good enough. Remember, in real life, Hall of Famer and Philadelphia A’s star Chief Bender is on the short list of people who might have invented the slider.
RP: Alen Smailagic
Another big man, standing at 6’9, Smailagic’s nickname is Smiley. That makes me think of John Smiley and Drew Smyly, so between that and the height, he’s destined for the mound.
RP: Mychal Mulder
Once again, this one is purely based on name. His name is Mulder, and this is an A’s site, end of story. He’s a pitcher. Plus, the only Mychal in MLB history is Mychal Givens, himself a reliever.
Closer: Klay Thompson
We’ve seen Klay on the Coliseum diamond before, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. We’ve also seen his brother, Trayce, playing in the outfield for the A’s, and making one of the better catches in recent memory. But Klay is staying on the mound, based on the fact that he pitched in Little League, including once on a broken foot that he didn’t tell anyone about. I’m betting he’d bring the heat, and he’s the kind of clutch, unflappable competitor who would thrive in the pressure of the 9th inning. He’s a closer in basketball, so why not in baseball too?
(Apologies for leaving out backup point guard Chasson Randle, who played only three games for the Warriors this year as a last-minute late-season replacement.)
As for the batting order, how about this?
- Curry, SS
- Lee, 3B
- Green, RF
- Chriss, 1B
- Paschall, LF
- Wiggins, CF
- Looney, DH
- Poole, 2B
- Bowman, C
Yep, I’d watch that team.