Who Should Participate in the NBA's Potential H-O-R-S-E Competition?

Michael Shapiro

The NBA is apparently diving deep into its barrel of ideas as the league rolls through the fourth week of the coronavirus suspension. 

ESPN and the NBA are reportedly working to televise a live H-O-R-S-E competition, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The event could feature, "several high-profile players," with each player likely using their home gyms, per Wojnarowski. 

Details for the event are still being finalized. 

Perhaps a H-O-R-S-E contest during the NBA's suspension isn't the most thrilling event, though it could be a springboard to future three-point shootouts or even dunk contests. Or, to be frank, it could be a snooze-fest. But with the 2019-20 season facing a potential cancellation, it's currently the best we've got. 

So who would we want to see in a televised H-O-R-S-E competition? Let's sift through some potential candidates.

Dream Selections

James Harden

The 2017-18 MVP certainly has a case as the top shot-maker in the NBA, dominating the league for the past half-decade with a slate of deep step-backs. Harden could bang home seven or eight step-backs in a row to send an opponent home in a hurry. Perhaps his one-legged shot can finally get put to good use. 

LeBron James

This is a bit of an obvious choice, but seeing LeBron play basketball in any fashion would likely bring in a significant ratings boost. And James has no shortage of tricks in his bag. He's proven to be adept at canning shots from behind the backboard and beyond the logo, and his skyhook isn't bad either. James may view such a competition as a waste of his time. But Adam Silver would be thrilled if he agreed to participate. 

Kevin Durant

We're diving a bit into the longshots pile here, though we've already seen grainy clips of Durant shooting and playing close to full-speed over the last month. Durant is one of the purest shooters in basketball, and he seems willing to participate in the NBA's alternative events during the COVID-19 crisis. If he's healthy enough, the league office may want to give him a call. 

Intriguing Options

Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul

The pair of point guards are potential options to compete in the event, per the New York Post's Andrew Marchand. And this matchup alone could be enough to fuel interest in the event, especially for those in Houston and Oklahoma City. 

Both Westbrook and Paul and supremely competitive, and the contest will be as close to bragging rights as either player gets if the 2019-20 season is canceled. Who has the edge in a potential matchup? It's hard not to side with Paul. Westbrook's jumper isn't exactly sturdy, and unless he's allowed to dunk his way through the contest–which seems like a violation of the game's spirit–Paul's mid-range game will likely prove to be lethal. Regardless, let's hope to see the swapped point guards duke it out on live TV. 

Lou Williams

The Clippers' bench dynamo appears to be the perfect sort of player for the NBA's competition. He has broad appeal despite checking in a notch below star status, and he's proven to be elite at draining difficult jumpers. We should be watching Williams and Kawhi Leonard duel the Lakers in a couple months, but that proposition is looking increasingly unlikely. Better we see him play H-O-R-S-E than not at all. 

Other Candidates

Duncan Robinson

Perhaps the Heat forward isn't the first player you'd turn on your TV to watch, but Robinson is perhaps the league's purest shooter. He's especially dominant from long range, burying 41.5% of threes outside of 25 feet in 2019-20. 

Buddy Hield

Hield is a bit more high-profile than Robinson, though he doesn't quite reach the All-Star level likely sought by the NBA. Still, Hield is a true marksman with serious range, and he's a previous three-point contest participant. Hield is certainly a potential option for the H-O-R-S-E competition.