Evaluating NBA player Anthony Edwards in Adam Sandler’s hit Netflix movie

When the trailer for Adam Sandler’s basketball-centric film Hustle came out, many fans were skeptical. Sports movies tend to be more popular, especially when you involve basketball players. A lot of times, it can feel a little cringe, or not pleasant at all.

After Hustle premiered on Netflix, NBA and non-NBA fans alike agreed on one thing: It’s a damn good movie.

Hustle doesn’t have the revolutionary story of some of the great basketball movies in history. Instead, the film takes the concept of a “feel-good sports movie” to the highest level. Basketball fans can also appreciate the film’s attention to detail on the concept of basketball. This isn’t a movie that happens to have basketball: it’s a basketball movie.

What’s most impressive about the film, however, is the cast. Hollywood appearances by professional sports players tend to feel…wrong. Often, athletes stand out among non-sports fans from a performance standpoint. Their lines feel forced and their movements unnatural. This is simply not the case in the movie Hustle. Let’s take a look at the famous NBA appearances in the movies and rate them accordingly.

Commenting on NBA player Anthony Edwards’ performance in Adam Sandler’s ‘The Hustle’

Honorable Mention

Before we chatter about the big names in “Hustle,” let’s talk about some of the movie’s famous cameos from NBA stars.

  • Luka Doncic could very well be the greatest player the Mavs have ever seen. Still, he still has a lot to learn from Dirk Nowitzki based on their brief appearances in the film.
  • It’s odd to see the Inside the NBA crew without Kenny Smith (more on that later). Who replaces him in that universe?
  • AI’s “Are we talking about practice?” rant makes its way to the movies: A fitting cameo for a film set in Philadelphia.
  • Julius Erving played a minor role, but he killed it briefly in front of the camera.
  • Tribute to the bone collector, professor and deadly shooter who spent time in front of the camera with other famous buskers.
  • The NBA combo scene is a treat for many NBA nerds. Mark Cuban, Brad Stevens and many other coaches were in that scene.

Boban Marjanovic

Of all the active players who have played a role in Hustle, Boban Marjanovic has the most movie experience. The Mavericks center was a smash hit among fans for his incredible performance on the guy killed by John Wick in the third chapter of the series. Many fans expected him to stand out in the movie.

Boban appeared in Hustle’s first minutes as “The Big Serb”, a 22-year-old potential client who allegedly had a 10-year-old son whose birth certificate was destroyed in “the fire.” Marjanovic’s deadpan and charisma shines through again in the film. He even waved to Trae Young in one of the basketball scenes, which was hilarious.

Grade: B+

Kenny Smith

Kenny Smith plays Sandler’s best friend and player’s agent Leon Rose in the movie Hustle. Smith’s first long shot in the film is when he urges Sandler to look at the ladies at the Spanish pool. That’s Kenny Smith’s peak energy, nothing to tell me.

In addition to mocking Sandler throughout the film, Smith brings a lot of credibility to the film. Smith has a lot of lines in Hustle, where he talks about big moments in the NBA or what it takes to be an NBA player. From any other actor, that might sound a little cringe. However, the lines come from someone who actually played in the NBA, and they add an air of realism to the film. Overall, great work by Kenny.

Grade: B

Moritz Wagner

You have to feel Moritz Wagner in this film. The former Lakers first-round pick played “Haas” in Hustle, a touted European draft pick nicknamed “German MJ.” While the Sixers were impressed with him, Sandler had reservations, citing work ethic issues and a lack of defense.

Still, the Sixers chose him, only to realize that Sandler’s concerns were warranted. To make matters worse, the 76ers drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick. In short…he was selected as the quintessential Euro draft bust in this universe. Feeling rough. He at least played the role well and sold the role well.

Grade: B

Anthony Edwards

Even before Hustle premiered a few days ago, many NBA fans were excited to see Anthony Edwards in the movie. The Timberwolves star is easily one of the most likeable players in the league today. After all, he’s charismatic and very comfortable in front of the camera (as Sandler himself says). Because of this, fans have high hopes for Edwards in this film.

Edwards took those expectations and blew them out of the water. The Timberwolves star played the big-mouthed villain of the movie Kermit Wilts in “Hustle.” Edwards is natural in front of the camera. He’s very annoying in the movie, and his game of trash talk is very annoying to the audience. It’s incredibly satisfying to see him humiliated in the film’s final scene, showing that Edwards does a very good job as a villain.

Grade: A+

Juanjo Hernangomez

Juan Jo, Juan Jo, Juan Jo. NBA fans were undoubtedly skeptical when they learned that Hernangomez would co-star alongside Adam Sandler in the movie “Hustle.” There’s no reason to believe this skilled forward can be an actor, let alone a credible one.

However, what I’m talking about here is Hernangomez’s great performance in “Hustle.” As Beau Cruz, Hernangomez shines as a lovely lead in the film. Performing alongside Adam Sandler and Queen Latifah is a daunting task for any rookie actor. Surprisingly, Hernangomez has his own, and then some. His facial expressions were spot on, his movements felt natural, and his performances were outstanding. Regardless, it was a great debut for him.

Juancho Hernangomez brought me to tears in a basketball movie. It’s something I never thought I’d say, but here we are. His work in the movie deserves all the props.

Grade: A+

final thoughts

In my opinion, what makes Hustle such a great basketball movie is the stellar performance of NBA stars. As I mentioned before, NBA stars have a bad habit of standing out in the worst possible way when it comes to movies. It doesn’t help when movies seem to push their looks into your face.

In Hustle, NBA players are arguably more “low profile”. The movie doesn’t try to make you admit, “Hey, look, it’s Player X!” whenever an NBA player is on camera. Instead, they’re background characters that add a lot of credibility to the film. No tongue-in-cheek mention of NBA players, they’re there. It’s almost as if they were living in this universe before the events of this movie began.

Of course, the central plot of “Hustle” would have been lost if it weren’t for the incredible film debuts of Juancho Hernangomez and Anthony Edwards. The duo seemed so natural that non-NBA watchers didn’t realize they were NBA players until the credits rolled in.

Overall, the Hustle is a very solid watch for NBA and non-NBA fans alike.

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