After years of rumors, Warner Bros. appears to be moving forward on Space Jam 2, a sequel to the live-action/animation hybrid that was a touchstone for 1990s kids everywhere. This time around, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James will be stepping into the Michael Jordan role of the basketball player who comes to the aid of Bugs Bunny and friends. This choice should work very well; not only are the Jordan/LeBron comparisons something sports fans debate daily, but James also demonstrated solid acting chops as "himself" in last year's comedy Trainwreck. He should prove to be a great lead.
However, if Space Jam 2 sticks to the formula of its predecessor (which most expect it will), the King won't be the only NBA player who lends his talents to the film. In the original film, the aliens looking to enslave the Looney Tunes stole the abilities of five gifted athletes so they were fit to play on the court. Arguably, who WB selects as the next generation of "Monstars" is a more interesting development to watch than the actual movie. We've decided to put on our GM hats and try to draft a team that could post a legitimate threat to the Tune Squad. For the purposes of this post, we selected a traditional starting five - along with a group of alternates.
Here are 12 Star Basketball Players For Space Jam 2's Monstars
13 Point Guard - Stephen Curry
Curry is arguably the most popular player in the NBA right now. The reigning league MVP and three point maestro has legions of fans across the globe as he and the Golden State Warriors made history during the 2015-16 regular season. Thanks to his tremendous work ethic and easygoing attitude, Curry is a great ambassador for the game, serving as a great role model for youngsters and an athletic marvel for adults. LeBron's involvement guarantees all eyes will be on Space Jam 2, but snagging Curry for a cameo is almost a necessity given his stature in the NBA.
Basketball fans are well aware of the challenges a Curry alien would present. The infinite range of his shot only scratches the surface of his skill set. Curry is an expert ball handler who can get to the hoop with ease. This past season, he averaged 6.7 assists per game, indicating that he's more than capable of getting teammates involved too. In addition, he led the NBA in steals with 2.1, so he's unguardable on one end, and a pest on the other. If the Monstars are serious about getting their revenge, Curry is one player they need to scout.
12 Shooting Guard - Andrew Wiggins
With a talented young core and a great head coach in Tom Thibodeau, the Minnesota Timberwolves are on the cusp of becoming one of the elite teams in the NBA. At the forefront of this movement is guard Andrew Wiggins, who is coming along nicely as a tremendous two-way player. A blossoming star, the NBA (who potentially could be involved with the movie's development) may want to use the project as a vehicle to push the Timberwolves so more casual fans become familiar with one of the franchises to watch. Though 2016's Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns and high flyer Zach Lavine would be great choices, Wiggins takes the cake in our book.
Winning Rookie of the Year himself in 2014-15, Wiggins is already one of Minnesota's best players and a valuable piece to their puzzle. This past year, he averaged 20.7 points per game, nearly four more than he did during his freshman campaign. While he's improving on offense, Wiggins is known primarily for his defense. Though young, Wiggins has made some of the league's top scorers work for their points during games, illustrating a knack for guarding the perimeter that will only get better as time goes on. If Bugs gets a hand on "LeBron's Secret Stuff," the Monstars will need some bodies to throw at their opponents.
11 Small Forward - Kawhi Leonard
As the San Antonio Spurs move on from the big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, they've seamlessly transitioned into the Kawhi Leonard era. Arguably the team's best player, Leonard has won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards and is a force on the offensive end. His points per game average has increased each year he's been in the league, and he's now seen as a bona fide superstar who can impact the game in several ways. He's obviously not as prolific from behind the arch as Curry, but Leonard's 44.3% clip from that area means he's someone who can stretch the floor and knock down shots.
Due to his low-key nature, Leonard may not be the most realistic pick for a big Hollywood film, but he's someone the Monstars should certainly look at. With LeBron leading the Tune Squad, Leonard could prove to be the ideal foil. The Spurs eviscerated James' Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals, and Leonard won MVP of that championship round in large part due to his defensive prowess. The Spurs are widely regarded as one of the best organizations in all of sports and have been great for the NBA. It'd be nice to see them get recognized even more by being part of Space Jam 2.
10 Power Forward - Kristaps Porzingis
The original Space Jam featured a fan-favorite New York Knicks big man in Patrick Ewing, so it wouldn't be surprising if the Monstars targeted another one more than 20 years later. He was "welcomed" to the Big Apple with a cascade of boos on draft night, but Porzingis turned the naysayers into believers through his play. Watching him grow was a rare bright spot in yet another lost Knicks season, as the rookie from Latvia demonstrated abilities at both ends of the floor. In the age of "small ball," his jump shot is a great tool that makes him a solid secondary scoring option. He's also shown a knack for defense, getting 1.9 blocks per game.
Like Wiggins, Porzingis is part of the next generation of potential NBA superstars who could carry the league for years to come. Including him would be a great way to celebrate the league's biggest market and give their tortured fan base something to cheer about as they wait for their fortunes to change. His 7'3" frame would translate well to a Monstar, giving Bugs, Daffy Duck, and anyone else second thoughts about driving through the paint.
9 Center - DeAndre Jordan
As a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, DeAndre Jordan has a clearly defined role that he excels at. One of the NBA's last true big men, Jordan excels at two things: defense and rebounding. He grabbed 13.8 boards per game, and averaged more than 2 blocks during this most recent season. He's a player who doesn't need to score to make an impact, though he is a tremendous threat in the pick-and-roll, as evidenced by his electrifying finishes at the rim. Jordan's biggest weakness is his free throw shooting, but he does so many other things well, he would be a strong component to this team.
Jordan is even stretching his "acting" muscles through his work in State Farm's "Meet the Hoopers" series of television commercials, demonstrating some charisma and comedic chops. Obviously, nobody's going into a Space Jam sequel expecting Oscar caliber performances, so as long as Jordan can convey what's made the Hoopers successful, he should be fine. It would be fun to see the center act out a scene or two, and hilarious if the game comes down to free throws as Bugs Bunny employs the infamous "Hack-a-DeAndre" strategy that draws the ire of basketball fans.
8 Alternate - Russell Westbrook
Those familiar with the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard know that Westbrook is essentially a Monstar brought to life, so it would seem odd if he wasn't one of the aliens' targets. Westbrook plays with a ferocity that's practically unrivaled in the NBA, always going at 100 miles per hour as he looks to pump the crowd up with explosive dunks in transition. He's always a threat to get a triple double, averaging 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 10.4 assists during the season. Though his gambling can sometimes get him into trouble on defense, his 2.0 steals per game are nice to have as well.
Out of all the players in the NBA, Westbrook is perhaps the one who embodies the sheer attitude of a Monstar the most. He's got a mean streak, as if everyone else on the court has personally wronged him in some way. He's exactly what the Monstars would want - the perfect kind of basketball crazy that refuses to back down from anyone. Some of the biggest names in the league may come off as too "nice" to be a part of that team, but Westbrook would be 100 percent believable in the role.
7 Alternate - James Harden
The visual of a Monstar sporting Harden's distinct bearded look is more than enough to make him a top pick. Thankfully, he's also one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. A premiere scorer, Harden is very adept at drawing fouls and getting to the line, shooting 10.2 free throws per game this past season. He's also a strong playmaker capable of creating for others, posting 7.5 assists. Once the third wheel in Oklahoma City, Harden's proven in Houston that he is a franchise player who can carry a team on his back to victory - when his heart is in the right place.
However, Harden loses some points because of his laissez faire approach to defense. Video clips of his various gaffes on that end of the floor have gone viral and are a source of comedy for basketball fans. If the Monstars are serious about defeating the Tune Squad this time around, they can't afford those kinds of mistakes. When Harden's locked in, he's a valuable player, but those who followed Houston's frustrating season know that they're not always there mentally and can take possessions (or complete games) off. There are others who can score and contribute on defense at the same time.
6 Alternate - Kevin Durant
It seems wrong that we've only gotten one matchup between LeBron and Kevin Durant in the NBA Finals, so this would be a fun way of having the two of them go at it with some high stakes. Durant even has one feature film under his belt, the Space Jam-esque comedy Thunderstruck (in which Durant switched talents with a teenaged fan). He's one of the most likable players in the game and is easily a top-five player in the league. Winner of the 2013-14 MVP, Durant has been named to the All-NBA First Team five times in his career and is a seven-time All-Star.
Always a threat to win the NBA's scoring title, Durant is one of the most versatile basketball players around. His shooting percentage is consistently great, and he has range from behind the arch to knock down threes. His size and length makes him a nightmare for opponents to guard. Officially listed at 6'9", Durant could be a little taller than that; a forward with a guard's skill set. He's the ideal go-to option for a team that needs a bucket and can beat just about anyone one-on-one. If the NBA wants another superstar to star alongside LeBron, there aren't many better options.
5 Alternate - Draymond Green
An afterthought as a second round pick, Draymond Green turned himself into an integral part of a potential dynasty in Golden State. He is without question one of the most unique players the NBA has seen. Green has steadily improved his game since his rookie year and had his best season in 2015-16. Like Westbrook, he's emerged as a triple-double machine, posting 14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.4 assists at the power forward position. Green is also the Warriors' premiere defender, with the ability to guard all players on the floor. He can slide to center whenever Golden State goes to their "Lineup of Death" and makes life a living hell for opponents.
Even though he's now an NBA Champion, Green plays with a perpetual chip on his shoulder and is the emotional leader of his team. His approach to the game is perfect for the Monstars, since all the attitude is there already. His brand of toughness and tenacity is something they would need. Making matters better is the fact that Green knows what it takes to beat LeBron, so his basketball IQ would come in handy when the game is close.
4 Alternate - Anthony Davis
His New Orleans Pelicans might have had a down season due to injuries, but Davis remains one of the greatest players in the NBA. Entering the league as a lockdown defender, Davis' skills in college carried over extremely well to the pros. He's led the league in blocked shots twice in his career, and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2015. He consistently cleans up the glass, averaging more than 10 rebounds per game in 2016. "The Brow" is an unstoppable force on this end of the floor.
Offensively, he's New Orleans' go-to player. The past two seasons, he scored over 24 points per game, and is great at rolling to the rim or popping out for a midrange jump shot. As the NBA evolves in the "pace-and-space" era, Davis possesses a number of tools that makes him a great addition to any team. He's a complete player who can impact the game in just about every way possible.
3 Alternate - Chris Paul
With LeBron involved in Space Jam 2, one would have to think he'd be interested in getting some of his NBA buddies to join him. You can almost make a full team out of James' best friends in the league, but CP3 is probably the one that makes the most sense for a feature film. He's been a State Farm spokesman for years, illustrating a natural acting ability and good comedic timing (for an athlete) that has made his ads a staple of basketball television for years. He's got a charm and charisma that would translate well on the big screen.
Of course, Paul is here mainly for his tremendous abilities. He's perhaps the best pure point guard in the league right now, acting as a facilitator for his Clippers each and every night. Paul is always looking to get his teammates involved, posting 10 assists per game in 2015-16. He has led the league in that category four times. Paul also knows when to pick his spots and is capable of scoring in bunches, averaging more than 19 points in each of the past three seasons. In addition, Paul is a strong defender, snagging around 2 steals per game every year he's been in the NBA. He's everything you'd want out of a leader.
2 Alternate - Diana Taurasi
Hollywood is always looking for ways to diversify casts in major films. Female-driven tentpoles are becoming more prevalent, as evidenced by the recent Star Wars films, WB's Wonder Woman standalone, and Marvel's Captain Marvel movie. When the first Space Jam came out, the WNBA still wasn't around. Now, women's basketball has a sizable presence in the sports landscape, so it wouldn't be out of the question for the studio to consider adding a female basketball star to the sequel to give it an additional level of appeal. There are plenty of big names available, but few are cut out for the task more than Diana Taurasi.
Her accolades speak for themselves. Taurasi wins championships wherever she goes - be it college, the WNBA, or even international leagues. She's one of the most decorated players in women's basketball history, being named the the All-WNBA First Team nine times. Taurasi has also won the league's scoring title five times and twice has won the WNBA Finals MVP award. She's also proven she can play with the boys, mentioning on a podcast this year that she played pickup with Draymond Green and Russell Westbrook. If that doesn't get her into the film, nothing will.
Of course, these are just some of the basketball players that would make great Monstars. There are too many guys (and gals) out there for one list, so be sure that you include some of your favorite picks in the comments section below!
As an aside, we're aware that the first Monstars didn't exactly target the cream of the crop with all of their selections, and all of the players listed here are All-Star caliber. One would hope that the aliens have learned from their mistakes and round out a Dream Team of their own to take down LeBron, leading to a group of "better" talent on the floor this time around.
We'll keep you updated on Space Jam 2's development.