With the NBA season on hold, players need something to occupy their time. While most, if not all, continue to work out and stay ready for when the season finally returns, guys need to pick up other hobbies to fill up their days. Whether that be gaming or becoming a TikTok expert, we've seen numerous NBA stars get creative with how they pass the time in quarantine. We've also seen another trend develop: more and more NBA guys are starting to rap. Of course, this has always been a thing, but we're seeing an increase in output with everyone stuck at home.
We even have beef popping up, with Aaron Gordon dissing Dwyane Wade for giving him a 9 in the dunk contest. TBH, we're not really complaining. As Gordon explained on the Load Management podcast, it's all in good fun and for entertainment. With that in mind, we decided to rank all of the current NBA players who have dipped their toe in the rap game. That means guys like Shaq, Allen Iverson, Metta World Peace, and more aren't included.
We're sticking with the guys who are currently playing and have rapped in some degree, whether they've officially dropped music or not. So yes, Kevin Durant and LeBron James are included. We're sure this will lead to plenty of arguments, so hit us on Twitter with your thoughts, and above all else, get hip to some new music.
12. Dwight Howard
When he was still with the Magic, Howard actually released an album called Shoot For The Stars that is thankfully forgotten and largely been scrubbed from the Internet. It was bad since it’s largely covers of stadium anthems and terrible songs and barely features any discernable rhyming skills. The Lakers reserve hasn’t put out much music in recent years and as he’s tried to remake his image, keep a lower profile, and stay above the bullshit that’s probably not a bad thing.
11. LeBron James
We all know that LeBron has become a gatekeeper of sorts in the rap world. His IG stories have become a popular place for artists to debut new music and get a seal of approval from the King. However, LeBron's interest in rap go far beyond that as he's actually jumped in the booth in the past, most notably with Kevin Durant during the 2011 lockout. All things considered, their song isn't that bad. The hook is even sort of catchy, and Bron got into some real personal stuff on the verse. His flow could use work, but there's definitely been athletes worse at rapping than King James. Oh, and let's not forget that time LeBron hosted and did the intro for a G-Unit mixtape back in the day.
10. JaVale McGee
The Lakers center is probably better known for producing—most notably, he’s a credited producer and writer on Justin Bieber’s Changes album that dropped earlier this year. But McGee did drop an album back in 2018 called Pierre that received relatively positive reviews. He told us back in 2017 that he only got serious about his music a few years before that, but McGee’s a genuinely quiet guy so if you didn’t know he rapped or did something on the side, we’re not surprised. Just don’t think for a minute that he doesn’t take his music—whether rhyming or producing—seriously. The fact that one of the biggest pop stars in the world co-signs him should dead any and all slander immediately.
9. Andre Drummond
The Cavs big man talked extensively about his music on the latest Load Management podcast and he isn’t restricted to rhyming. Drummond might be the most experimental lyricists/artist since some of his songs definitely don’t resemble anything close to a traditional rap song and he’s not afraid to admit he’s definitely looking to make a different brand of music than traditional rap. But when it’s his turn to grab the mic and start spitting a few lines he’s not bad. And he’s having a lot of fun with it and it ain’t hard to tell.
8. Aaron Gordon
Before the lockdown and NBA shutdown, nobody really knew that Aaron Gordon also rapped. He dropped his first two songs during quarantine and made a huge splash when he took aim at Dwyane Wade over the 2020 dunk contest and Wade giving him a 9/10 during the final round. Gordon talked about the diss and making music on the Load Management podcast and basically said he's mostly doing it for fun. While still rather new to it, Gordon does have some skill and we'll give him plus points here for having some great visuals to go along with his music.
7. Lance Stephenson
The Brooklyn native should never be mentioned in the same breath as the borough’s legends like JAY-Z, Biggie, or any other MC making a living from the rap game. But Lance Make ‘Em Dance can actually rhyme a little and, bonus points, isn’t overly sophomoric with his lyrics. Stephenson most famously put out a single back in 2014 titled “Hot N****” and he brings the energy in the track. It’s more of a street anthem than a club banger, something the video would confirm since it looks like it was mostly shot on the streets he grew up on in Coney Island.
6. Lou Williams
The Clippers sixth-man extraordinaire has been doing it longer than just about anyone on this list. When he’s not in the gym, he’s often in the studio either in Los Angeles or back home in Atlanta and he takes his rhyming seriously. But he gives others their props when due, like the time in 2017 when we asked him who would win a rap battle between himself, Lillard, Shumpert, and Durant. “I would say Shump because that’s Shump’s thing, but I probably make the best songs though,” Williams said. “Free-styling and rap battles, I’ll go with Shump.” We appreciated the honesty, but Williams might be selling himself just a little short.
5. Kevin Durant
Like LeBron, Kevin Durant really doesn't have enough music out to get a feel for how good he is at rapping. However, if you solely go off the leaked song he did with Bron in 2011, KD has some legit skills. His flow sounds good. Back in 2017, McGee gave us a bit of a tip about how nice KD really is. "He actually has bars. He raps like Nas. I’ve been in his home studio and listened. He’s got a lot of songs," he said. Sadly, none of that music has dropped. If it did, KD could be much higher on this list.
4. Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball has been in the spotlight for years and made waves around the hip-hop world a few years ago when he named his top 5 favorite rappers and then later called Nas overrated. To Ball's credit, he was then brave enough to go out there and start dropping his own music, which has stacked up millions of views on YouTube. Overall, Lonzo is pretty good in the booth, especially for someone who does it on the side. He might sound like a Migos/Future/Uzi clone, but you could say that about a whole bunch of new artists today.
3. Marvin Bagley
Like Aaron Gordon, most NBA fans discovered that Marvin Bagley could rap via beef when he got into a back and forth with Damian Lillard in 2019. While most would concede that Dame won the battle, it opened up a lot of people to Bagley's music and realized that he could indeed hold his own. Bagley has a unique flow and lyrics that make him standout as one of the best NBA players who rap today.
2. Iman Shumpert
No surprise here. Iman Shumpert has been doing this for years and continues to do so. From flow, lyrics, and a creativity standpoint, Shump has been doing this consistently and doesn't appear to be slowing down. He consistently puts up numbers on YouTube, and has never been scared to freestyle on the spot, which takes plenty of guts to do. As Lou Williams said, Shump can really battle, but also has the versatility to make legit songs. And let's never forget Shump's iconic appearance in Kanye West's "Fade" video alongside his wife, Teyana Taylor. Legend.
1. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard is the best rapper in the Association. You know it. Every player knows it. Most importantly, Lillard knows it. This is what he told us last summer: “I'm not in competition with no player that’s rapping in the NBA. I'm literally as an artist trying to move myself into what the actual artists are doing.” Where’s the lie? He has a more than respectable flow, interesting lyrics that reflect his life, and actually puts out albums that receive positive reviews. Dame D.O.L.L.A. drops are easily the best thing any big-time athlete has ever released for public consumption. Lillard’s the NBA rap king and when you come at the king you best not miss (ahem, Marvin Bagley). Unfortunately, it seems like too many ballers who also rap keep pulling up from 40 to try and knock Lillard from his perch. We admire their chutzpah, but the problem is their range is limited to the paint. Lillard's good from the logo.