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(From left to right) junior guard Clark Slajchert, Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry, senior guard Lucas Monroe, and Denver Nuggets forward Bruce Brown (Photos from Anna Vazhaeparambil, All-Pro Reels | CC BY-SA 2.0, and SneakinDeacon | CC BY-SA 2.0). Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Every basketball player grows up idolizing the greats. With NBA games filling TV screens across America, the transcendent players that play in the Association serve not only as a dream for the youth of the sport to chase, but as an example for them to model their game after in hopes of becoming the best player they can possibly be. 

As Penn men’s basketball rides a five-game win streak, Deputy Sports Editor Walker Carnathan and Sports Associate Sean McKeown take a look at some NBA players whose play styles resemble the red-hot Quakers.

Jordan Dingle — Donovan Mitchell

When the men’s basketball team was asked what their favorite thing to cook was, Jordan Dingle responded candidly: “defenders.” That is an affinity he shares with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, one of the NBA’s most prolific bucket-getters. There are countless parallels between Dingle and Mitchell, from the smooth quality of their movement, to their ability to finish around larger defenders in the paint, to their appetite for three-pointers (Dingle attempts 7.7 triples per game, Mitchell 9.3). As the primary engines of their teams’ offenses, Dingle and Mitchell often shoulder the burden of creating for both themselves and their teammates, though their chief responsibility remains scoring. Dingle is currently second in NCAA Division I with 24 points per game, while Mitchell slots in at 11th in the NBA with 26.9. –Carnathan

Clark Slajchert — Seth Curry

Clark Slajchert is the other piece of Penn’s dynamic backcourt, complementing Dingle’s driving ability with great shot making ability from all over the court. Slajchert skillfully uses screens to get to his mid-range shot, and fires threes in both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble situations at a high rate. This play style goes hand in hand with Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry, one of the league's premier role players. Slajchert and Curry both have a penchant for popping threes whenever they are given an inch of space, and both prefer to attempt contested mid range shots off of a screen instead of driving to the rim. Their film is almost identical from shot selection to dribble moves, and even their ability finish in transition. –McKeown

Max Martz — Al Horford

While the city of Philadelphia may have some residual animosity toward Al Horford from his time with the 76ers, the similarities between the Boston Celtics forward’s game and Martz’s are undeniable. They both move with a calculated rigidity, always filling the right spot on the court. At 36 years old, Horford does not have quite the same bounce as Martz, but they still utilize a comparable blend of smart off-ball movement and athleticism to make their opponents pay. At 40.4% from deep, Martz has developed into one of Penn’s most reliable long-range shooters, while Horford sits at 13th in the NBA at 41.7%. And though they spend little time in the paint, both Horford and Martz are smooth operators in the post, each making smart use of the glass to finish tough shots. –Carnathan

Lucas Monroe — Bruce Brown

One of the most essential roles on any basketball team is that of the “glue guy” — the connecting piece that holds the team together with their scrappy play and diverse skill set. For the Western conference-leading Denver Nuggets, that is Bruce Brown. And for Penn, it's senior Lucas Monroe. Neither are their team’s primary scoring options, but they each find a way to stamp their mark on every game they play. When Penn skated past Cornell for a critical Ivy win last Saturday, it was Monroe and his 13 rebounds, including six offensive, that made the difference in the game. He also leads the Quakers in rebounds per game with 5.7 from his guard position, significantly better than Brown’s 3.9. Both players also make a significant impact defensively, using their relentless effort and basketball IQ to secure game-changing stops. –Carnathan

Jonah Charles — Danny Green

Danny Green and Jonah Charles have one big thing in common: shooting threes. Out of Charles’ last 92 shots, 82 of them have been from beyond the arch.  Green, similarly, is an NBA rotation piece whose only job for the last decade has been to let it rip from the corner. Green and Charles are also both veterans on relatively young teams, with Green being a veteran presence for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charles being the oldest guard for Penn. With their age and experience, both Green and Charles are expected to help the younger players on the team. –McKeown

Nick Spinoso — Nikola Jokic

While Nick Spinoso may not possess the same scoring volume as the two-time reigning NBA MVP, there is no other player who shares both Spinoso’s monster frame and his daring as a playmaker. From behind-the-back dimes to crosscourt skips, Spinoso and Jokic have many of the same dazzling tricks in their bag. Jokic has revolutionized the big man position with his ability to conduct an offense, and earlier this season, Spinoso said that he models his game after the Serbian superstar. That is reflected in Spinoso’s on-court performance, where he oils the Penn offense with his team-leading 3.4 assists per game. When the offense jams up, you can always count on Spinoso and Jokic alike to get it flowing again. –Carnathan

George Smith — TJ McConnell

Missing a large part of Penn’s season, George Smith has come back as a solid bench piece with improved shooting and dribbling. Smith provides perimeter shooting for the Quakers, but his versatile dribbling and finishing really opens up the bench unit’s offense. Smith’s veteran presence is enjoyed by his teammates, and his scrappiness on the defensive side leads to some crowd-raising reactions. A good NBA comparison for Smith is TJ McConnell, the current backup point guard for the Indiana Pacers. McConnell is also a scrappy backup guard who’s special impact comes from his ability to dribble and drive. Like Smith, McConnell has made a career off of his surprise defensive steals, and both players have become fan favorites. –McKeown

Max Lorca-Lloyd — Walker Kessler

Max Lorca-Lloyd is Spinoso's backup, but Lorca-Lloyd has a whole different skill set. Instead of manipulating the game through screens and passing, Max brings one thing that Spinoso is sometimes lacking: blocks. Lorca-Lloyd is Penn’s premier rim defender, leading the teams in blocks despite coming off the bench. But the impact Lorca-Lloyd provides isn’t only on the defensive end, as he makes almost 60% of his field goals in his limited shot attempts. In the NBA, his play style best matches up with breakout Utah Jazz rookie Walker Kessler, who leads the NBA in blocks off the bench. On top of this, Kessler also boasts a great shooting percentage while taking minimal shots. Lorca-Lloyd and Kessler overall are both your typical defensive bigs, roaming in the paint waiting to strike, while providing good rotational minutes. –McKeown

Andrew Laczkowski — Josh Hart

When looking at Penn’s stat sheet, there’s one man who sneakily adds value night in and night out: Andrew Laczkowski. Teammate Dingle raved about Laczkowski’s “do-it-all” nature, with the junior guard/forward being adept at all facets of the game. Laczkowski is asked to defend multiple positions on one end, and set screens and pass on the other. The one facet of his game that transcends whichever side of the court he’s on is his tenacity for rebounding. At only 6-foot-6, Laczkowski regularly saves offensive possessions by snatching boards from much larger opponents. When comparing Laczkowski to NBA talent, you’d have to look no further than Josh Hart, a recent addition to the New York Knicks and a former Villanova product whose best talent is rebounding. At 8.2 rebounds per game, Hart is the best non-center rebounder in the NBA, and is also a skilled defender, just like Laczkowski. With both players’ game revolving around effort, it’s fair to say that both play with some serious Hart. –McKeown