As an avid sports fan, I love when it is time for the NFL & NBA Drafts. Everyone posts their mock drafts trying to predict who will draft who, and which players will fall where. But my favorite part of mock drafts is the comparisons. Paolo Banchero compares to Carmelo Anthony, Kayvon Thibodeaux compares to Aidan Hutchinson, etc. Yes, I know that comparisons are not apples to apples, or necessarily even accurate, but they do provide some excitement. They also help provide an accurate style of play. But most importantly, they’re enjoyable.
Now I don’t know enough about the next crop of future pickleball pros, but I do know about NFL Quarterbacks. I’m going to compare the top Pickleball Pros to NFL QB’s, allowing the typical football fan to gain some high-level insight into who’s who the sport of pickleball.
Ben Johns is Pickleball’s Tom Brady
This is the most obvious one to me and the reason why I came up with this article idea. I was talking to my friend about how I started the Dink Tank Pickleball blog and it sparked the question, “Is there a top dog in pickleball?” I immediately knew the answer was Ben Johns. Similar to Brady, Johns leads the way in most major categories, most importantly wins. Whether or not if we think he is at the top of his game currently, there’s no denying Johns’ dominance in the sport of Pickleball.
Simone Jardim is Pickleball’s Peyton Manning
The “Queen of Pickleball,” Jardim is one of the game’s most successful athletes. The same could be said of “The Sheriff” Peyton Manning. What Ben Johns is to Men’s Pickleball, Jardim is for Women. Jardim doesn’t have an overwhelming power game, but neither did Manning. Both athletes excel in the technical aspect of their sports and rarely make mistakes. Another thing the two have in common is that they are both ambassadors for their sport. Jardim runs the Peak Performance Pickleball Academy, while Manning is the face of his family’s Manning Passing Academy.
Zane Navratil is Pickleball’s Patrick Mahomes
I for one am a big fan of Zane’s pickleball game. I’m also amazed at Mahomes on the football field. I make this comparison because I think both Zane and Mahomes may be the most gifted players in their sports. They both have uncanny abilities to pull off the unorthodox or wild moves. Zane with the chainsaw serve and Mahomes with the no look passes. Zane and Mahomes have also experienced success at young ages and have bright futures ahead of them. While I acknowledge both can be the top dogs in their respective sports, Brady and Ben Johns are around to steal some of the spotlights.
Anna Leigh Waters is Pickleball’s Joe Burrow
I’d like to acknowledge that this is before Sunday’s Super Bowl, so do not hold this against me if Burrow struggles. Waters and Burrow are both two of the game’s young bucks who are turning heads on a weekly basis. Burrow may be the toughest guy in the game, but Anna Leigh’s backhand may be the toughest shot in pickleball. Waters has won championships quickly and Burrow has the ability to as well. Expect to see these two at the top of their sports for the long haul.
Tyson McGuffin is Pickleball’s Lamar Jackson
When I think of cool athletes in Pickleball, I think of Tyson McGuffin. The same can be said of Lamar Jackson in Football. Both athletes operate with extreme swagger and confidence and it can be seen in their playing styles. Lamar Jackson took over the NFL at a young age, running and passing the ball, unlike any other QB before him. McGuffin has been innovative in the pickleball world with his Selkirk sponsorship, which has enabled him to create new paddles, gear, and increases his social media presence. Jackson and McGuffin bring the best style and looks to their respective sports.
Collin Johns is Pickleball’s Eli Manning.
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