6 NBA Rookies and Their Rapper Equivalents

Story by Complex.com


The comparisons between NBA players and rappers will never go away. It’s such a fun thing to look at and play around with. Last year, we did a full breakdown of which top NBA guys match the best rappers in the game, and it was a lot of fun. Now, with a stellar rookie class invading the NBA and a slew of young rappers taking over the game, we decided to come back with some more comparisons for everyone to debate about.

Of course, not everything with rap and the NBA is comparable, but there’s no question that the talent pool of young NBA stars and young star rappers is on a similar level. The NBA has an influx of young stars that should have fans super excited for the future. On the rap side, the new class of artists much more polarizing, but the results are there. A Boogie, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Yachty put numbers on the board. The music has fans going crazy, despite the load roars of haters. No matter how you look at it, the NBA and the rap game are both in a great position when it comes to young talent, and no amount of haters can take that away.

Illustrations via @cmineses_designs.




Ben Simmons is Lil Uzi Vert.

Call it the Philly connection, but Ben Simmons and Lil Uzi Vert have more in common than just running the “City of Brotherly Love.” But both Simmons and Uzi are stars. Big stars, with bright futures in their respective crafts. Simmons is a rising star in the NBA, the likely Rookie of the Year, and a pivotal piece to the upstart 76ers who look like they’ll be a force in the NBA for years to come. Uzi, on the other hand, is easily one of the budding stars in the rap game with a sly and mysterious personality that drives fans crazy. His music backs up the look as well, with Uzi being a force in the game, who is capable of delivering big hits and top-tier projects.


Donovan Mitchell is A Boogie.

Silent assassins. That’s the common theme between Donovan Mitchell and A Boogie. Both are stars in the game. Mitchell wasn’t drafted until late in the lottery, when he’s shaping up to be the best player from last year’s draft. His dynamic scoring has saved the Jazz season, and he would be a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year if Simmons wasn’t going crazy every single night.


The young NYC artist is as versatile as they come in the music industry. He can rap, sing, and everything in between. His albums perform well on the charts, and he’s had big singles that just scratch the surface of what he can do. And yet, when the King of NYC debate recently came up, Boogie wasn’t mentioned. That’s OK, soon enough everyone will wake up.


Kyle Kuzma is Lil Skies.

Both Kyle Kuzma and Lil Skies sorta came outta nowhere. Kuzma has been a standout rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers, while Lil Skies continues to shine as the new act on Atlantic Records. Both Kuzma and Skies weren’t pegged as the A1 talents of their respective organizations (Lakers and Atlantic), but they’ve shown more than enough to both be looked at as future stars in both the NBA and music industry.


Lonzo Ball is Lil Yachty.

I’m sorry, but I had to do it. Both are polarizing as hell. Both have something to prove, and there’s a good amount of doubt about whether or not they’ll ever reach the peak that people expect. Yachty has alienated hip-hop purists on more than one occasion, while Lonzo has the Lavar Ball factor (and also pissed off hip-hop purists in his own way). People love to hate them and root for them to fail. However, as of now, both Yachty and Lonzo are still succeeding on their own terms.


Dennis Smith Jr. is Playboi Carti.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Playboi Carti have made big headlines throughout their respective careers, which bodes well for both of their futures, though questions remain. For Carti, we’ve seen him come out the gate with his hit single, “Magnolia,” which ran this past summer in music and soared up the charts. However, going forward, it remains to be seen if Carti can fully take the next step and be a viable artist in rap that delivers quality music on a consistent basis.


A similar thought process comes into play when trying to project what Dennis Smith Jr. will be in the NBA. The high-flying point guard was a lottery pick by the Mavericks. And though he has had plenty of highlight dunks this season, there are still questions about his overall game. Can he develop a consistent jumper? Can he reach a star level? For Carti and Smith alike, plenty of questions lie ahead.


Jayson Tatum is Lil Pump.

Jayson Tatum is a young phenom. He can shoot, defend, drive to the hoop, and all that. He looks like the steal of last year’s draft and a player that the Boston Celtics can build around for years to come. Some also consider Lil Pump to be a phenom. And, well, his rise in the rap game has been phenomenal, you can’t deny that. Love Pump or hate Pump, the facts remain that he had major labels in a bidding war for millions of dollars. He’s probably here to stay and if you hadn’t heard, he’s only 17 years old.