The Warriors have their work cut out if they want to defend their Chip in ’15-16. The Big Three will be healthy in Cleveland, Aldridge and DWest will inject new life into the Spurs, and DeAndre Jordan’s surprise return to Hollywood could finally result in a title for an L.A. basketball team not named the Lakers. But wait. A confident dark horse looms. “Migos is going all the way,” says Takeoff, the youngest member of the Atlanta rap trio.

To be a champ, you’ve gotta look the part. The Quality Control emcees’ affection for designer clothing and gold chains is well-documented, but no Migos outfit is complete without fresh footwear. Quavo, Takeoff and Offset estimate they’ve got 90-100 pairs of shoes in their respective collections, and they list Foamposites, Pennys, Huaraches, Jordans and Iversons among their favorite bball kicks. In terms of high-end sneakers, they’re partial to Rick Owens, Christian Louboutin and Yeezy’s recent adidas collab.

According to Takeoff, acquiring the new releases was never a problem growing up. “Everything that we wanted, we went out there and we got it. Just like with the game now, we just put our mindset to it.”

Still, Offset admits that as a kid, he could never get his hands on the black/white/pure purple Barkley 2s, so he made sure to cop a pair years later when they became available to him.

Takeoff says Migos ran into the Round Mound of Rebound at a store on Atlanta’s North side recently. If you’re up on Migos’ music catalogue, you’ll understand the momentous occasion: the group released a song in late 2013 called “Charles Barkley.” Other NBA players that have expressed their fandom for Migos include Lou Williams (“We rock with him, and he shows us love,” Takeoff says) and Metta World Peace, the latter of whom the trio bumped into at the airport not too long ago.

Migos’ lyrical dexterity is what sets them apart; Quavo, Takeoff and Offset maneuver through the pocket of a beat like Stephen Curry sliding through defenders. And their music is littered with NBA references. “We grew up watching ESPN and sports, so sometimes a slam dunk will be a metaphor for, if you in the bando, you slam dunk the brick, which means you just flipped it,” Offset says.

All three are Hawks fans but admitted to rooting for LeBron and the Cavs once their home squad was ousted in the 2015 Playoffs. In terms of their own hooping abilities, Migos played together growing up in school and in the streets. “Our game right now is a little bit rusty—we’ve been on that stage, so we haven’t been on the hardwood in a minute. But we still got it now—don’t get it twisted,” says Quavo, who played combo guard, quarterback and left field for Berkmar High School in Lithium, Georgia.

Quavo’s silky jumper came in handy in April 2014 during a recording session with Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan and Jermaine Dupri at So So Def Studios in North Atlanta for the banger “New Atlanta.” “By the time we stepped on the court—you know everybody got money—so there’s got to be some money involved,” Quavo says. Turns out, ‘some money’ means $1,000 per shot from the 3-point line.

Though Migos is unlikely to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy next June, the group’s debut album release on July 31 felt like the culmination of a grueling championship run. “We’re letting you know where we came from, and where we’re at now, and what it took to get to where we’re at now,” Offset says.

Following the 2013 smash single “Versace” (and its Drake-assisted remix) and a run of successful mixtapes in 2014, Takeoff, Offset and Quavo dropped YRN: Yung Rich Nation to positive reception from fans and critics alike. “We ain’t going platinum, we ain’t going gold, we’re going diamond,” Takeoff says. “If you don’t cop the album, I’mma pull up on you like Kyle Korver.”

photo by Diwang Valdez