Could a team of super penguins beat the Philadelphia 76ers?

Apr 5, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young (21) during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center. The Nets defeated the Sixers 105-101. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

I’m out here in Boston on vacation so my content creation game has been lacking the past few days, but it’s been raining all day with no signs of stopping so I decided to take a break from eating clam strips to bless the masses with a new post.

All right, so the other day these reports came out about how they found fossils of ancient penguins as big as NBA players. Check this out from USA Today.

Researchers have discovered fossils of a 250-pound penguin on Antarctica’s Seymour Island, Phys.org reports. Palaeeudyptes klekowskii lived some 37 million to 40 million years ago. That period was “a wonderful time for penguins, when 10 to 14 species lived together along the Antarctic coast,” a researcher tells New Scientist.

Researchers put the penguins’ length at about 6-feet-7, New Scientist reports, or “tall enough to play in the NBA,” as Discovery puts it. Penguin posture, however, means the Klekowskii’s length would have been longer than its actual height, New Scientist notes.

First of all, this is fantastic. With all the horrible news we’ve been hit with in the past few days/weeks, it’s nice to get some cool, new factoids like this. But now comes the time to answer the inevitable question: could a team of giant penguins beat the Sixers? We’ve seen similar questions asked before, such as when a dominant Kentucky team with multiple first round picks won the national title. There’s always going to be that hypothetical debate about whether the best team of a lower level could beat the worst team of a higher level. Well of course, the answer is always no. Kentucky could not have beaten the Bobcats. But what about penguins taking on the worst the NBA has to offer? Since it’s the offseason, this seems a perfect opportunity to break down a team of super penguins’ chances against the Sixers.

First, let’s make one thing clear. We aren’t talking about the super penguins winning a series. There’s no doubt the Sixers would win out in a seven game series. We’re discussing the mythical, hypothetical, one game, winner-takes-all, championship of the animal kingdom.

Okay, so since the penguins being massive was the amazing part of this discovery, let’s talk about size. For penguins, six-foot-seven is a behemoth, but in the NBA, that isn’t all the big. Sure, a guard that size would be awesome, but the penguin bigs are going to have a problem. Well not so fast. Thad Young, the Sixers’ power forward and best player, is only about six-foot-eight. Even acknowledging that whomever the Sixers were throwing out a center last year—I mean, who really cares—would have a height advantage, he wasn’t any good at basketball, so is it even a big deal? I say no. At best this is a win for the penguins, at worst, it’s a draw.

Now, you’ll say, hey, wait a minute, these are penguins. Can they even move? I hear you. So let’s look into speed. According to SeaWorld, Emperor penguins—the largest living penguins—move at a top speed of just 1.7 miles per hour. Meanwhile the Sixers as a team, according to Sport VU cameras, moved at an average speed of 4.3 miles per hour. Given that these Emperor penguins are only 90 pounds, you’d have to imagine these super penguins would be even slower. Bad news for the penguins: this is a massive and decisive victory for the Sixers.

Sure, size and speed are great, but that’s not all basketball is about. There’s plenty of strategy that goes into putting together a winning team. And even though we’re just talking about a one game scenario, coaching is still important, and could swing the game. Seeing as there are no current penguins coaching at any level of basketball, I think it’s fair to assume they would be allowed to sign a rather high-level coach. Say, George Karl. As for the Sixers, they have Brett Brown in charge, and he came from Coach Popovich’s tutelage so he’s pretty solid. Still, slight advantage to the penguins, in my opinion.

As you can see, on paper it seems the penguins would have a solid chance to take home the victory. But of course, as the cliché goes, games aren’t played on paper. We have to talk about on-court action. Size and coaching can only get you so far. You have to be able to make shots and defend.

This is where the penguins’ anatomy would be to their detriment. As you know, penguins do not have arms and hands, but rather flippers, meaning it would be quite difficult for them to score. Even with the horrible offense of the Sixers—98.6 offensive efficiency last year per ESPN.com—likely to turn the game into a low-scoring affair, there would just be no way the penguins could put up enough points to get a win. In addition, if the Sixers were able to get out on the break, it would be physically impossible for the penguins to do much about it. It seems then, that this is where the penguins’ dream dies.

There weren’t many teams the Sixers were able to beat last season, but a team of super penguins would be on that list. It’s really a shame we’ll never get to see this matchup take place. Alas…

Jack Maloney

  • Henauder Titzhoff

    Presti would get his own D-League penguins. Do not overestimate the man.