Ranking the #AllTimeNBADraft Rosters

Superstars are great, but who put together the best TEAM?

So a bunch of folks did an #AllTimeNBADraft and I wasn’t one of them, but I wanted to take part anyway. The rules were simple (sort of). Snake draft, 13 rounds plus a coach, with modern rules so old timey players were supposed to be imaginably modernized. Each player is chosen for just their one peak season, so that mattered a lot. Guys known for their long prosperous careers were less valuable to me than the ones that peaked especially high even if they fell off or got injured after that.

Here’s a link to the #AllTimeNBADraft picks and rosters if you’re interested. The first column team had the #1 pick and so on moving to the right. And no, the TMac team in the third column is not in the wrong spot, but we’ll get back to that. In my rankings I chose a starting lineup for each team, but you can see all of the depth here on the link:

Without further ado because this is basically a blog or long series of tweets, here are my team rankings below. I focused heavily on team makeup and the modern game, and how I thought the whole team would play together. Teams with complimentary pieces prospered; teams with too many egos didn’t. In an All Time draft, points and rebounds are easy to come by, but super elite skills like shooting and defense are not so those players were especially valuable to me.

I don’t claim these rankings to be infallible. The whole fun of it is that no one actually knows, and in particular, there were players on every team that I’ve never even seen play before. I dug into stats and basketballreference.com for all the important guys to get a feel for the style and profile and then went with it from there.

I wrote playfully so enjoy the banter and don’t take it personally. Some teams win and some teams lose — that’s how rankings work. And no, I’m sure I didn’t totally understand where you were going with your team, and yes I get that it’s fictional and you were just having fun with it. So am I.


Lottery Teams

20. New Jersey — Iverson, TMac, Iggy, Brow, Bellamy

Ok, you had the #3 pick in an all time NBA draft and you took TMac. I feel like this analysis will just end there.

19. Dallas — T.Parker, Drexler, Peja, Pau, B.Russell

A very international flavored lineup here, but poor Bill Russell is left as your coach and star player and apparently entire defense too. This doesn’t feel like a modern looking team and other than Peja who wouldn’t stay on the court for Chet Walker, there’s too much midrange game and not enough shooting and spacing. Some solid players but not good enough compared to the other teams.

18. Washington — Zeke, Kobe, Elgin, Nique, Hayes

Holy superstar ego team Batman! I hope your team plans on having 5 basketballs on the court at all times, Harlem Globetrotters style or something, to keep everyone happy. This team is loaded with guys that all want to get theirs, a slew of dudes that all expect 25 shots a game. You picked Phil Jackson as coach and you’re going to need him to manage all the egos because you also unfortunately have Phil Jackson the GM building your team.

17. St Louis — West, Pressey, DeBusschere, K.Malone, McHale

This was the toughest team for me to translate, the one I know the least amount the key players, but I don’t like the makeup. I felt like you got poor value on 3 of the top 4 picks — DeBusschere had a peak win share of 7, akin to Antonio (not Anthony) Davis. And West has to play PG despite being a top 3 all time SG. I liked the Billy Cunningham pick and I like a lot of versatility here but I long for a true point guard to hit West for open shots and run the PNR with Malone.

16. Austin Powers — CP3, Harden, Barkley, Sheed, B.Wallace

Holy cow does this team have #LeaguePassAlert written all over it but for all the wrong reasons. Poor Popovich. Barkley is a really tough one. He was an absolute stud but he’s also 6'6 in high tops so I don’t know where he would fit in a modern more athletic league. This team needs him at SF and maybe he could develop a shot, but you really don’t want your #1 pick switching positions and moving away from the basket where he was so dominant. I feel like this team would be absolutely miserable to watch or root for. It’s actually not possible to have a whinier team about every single call that ever happened, and you have 3 starters that all want to run point. Also Michael Cooper at 61 was one of the worst picks of the draft for me — dude averaged 8.9ppg with under 100 career starts, rings or not. I’d pay to see this team once and then I might pay to never see them again.

15. Miami — Magic, Penny, G.Hill, Lanier, Yao

I got excited about this team at first, until I realized that you aren’t allowed to use peak international years for players like Sabonis, Petrovic, and Yao. I feel like there was a lot of creativity used in making this team, and there are a lot of fun, unique players like World B. Free, but I don’t buy the overall fit. There’s no real 4 on the entire team unless you count Diaw, and it’s upsetting having so many very special passers on the team without really much of anyone to pass it to. The ball movement on this team would be incredible to watch which is good since it’s clearly what you were going for.

14. Atlanta — Kidd, Wade, Durant, McAdoo, Parish

I think I would like this team best if you went with a small ball lineup, with KD at the 4 next to McAdoo and then getting Richmond onto the court to add some shooting and spacing. Right now the guards just can’t shoot. The other problem with Atlanta is that I absolutely hate the bench, with a bunch of inefficient dudes from the last 25 years, many of whom feel like they shouldn’t have been drafted at all. Other teams bench units would pound this team. Real shame because I thought Durant and McAdoo were two excellent values at the end of the 1st and 3rd rounds.

13. New York — Wall, Arenas, Gervin, Amar’e, Wilt

You loaded up with a ton of big guys and plenty of thugging. I’m not sure if you thought this team was playing Bill Laimbeer Combat Basketball or something maybe. It feels like there are too many scorers here and not enough defense. I see a lot of guys fighting over the ball. The team will be entertaining especially if they get out and run and use all that athleticism, but I can’t get past feeling like this team would be better in Rucker Park. Liked the Connie Hawkins pick a lot.

Playoff Teams

12. Philadelphia — Russ, Vince, Kirilenko, Unseld, Admiral

This team has a ton of potential especially defensively. I can’t shake the feeling that the entire thing would come down to the motivation of RW and VC though, whether they’d get along, and how hard they’d try on defense. In theory you get them at their best and Auerbach makes it work, but it scares me. Feels like lack of efficiency and shooting could be a problem, compounded by a bench that really leaves you wanting especially Doug Christie (wtf?!) in the 6th.

11. Los Angeles 2 — D.Rose, Pistol Pete, Schrempf, KG, Walton

Man I saw the KG/Walton duo as the first two picks and got crazy excited… and then I hated the next two picks after. I think you were just building a really fun “what if” type team and I get that with DRose and Pistol Pete. Unfortunately you got two all time stud versatile bigs who are the ultimate team guys and then surrounded them with two me-first inefficient guards that won’t get them the ball. A crying shame.

10. San Francisco — Nash, R.Allen, Aguirre, Love, Kareem

This team is so close, and it would be a really fun team to watch either way. I love the style of how the first four picks set up and started to come together with a really modern offense, and Bosh was a great value and a perfect bench player here too. Unfortunately I don’t buy Aguirre or Richardson as the right wings for this team and that is the problem here — just one great 3-and-D type away from being a top contender. It’s appropriate that you went with D’Antoni at coach. The offense will be a marvel to watch, but the defense might be close-your-eyes awful too.

9. San Antonio — Stockton, Steph, Pierce, Rodman, Noah

Really weird team made further weird by the fact that you have E.Jones, Battier, Bowen, Batum, and Horry all filling the exact same role on 5 bench spots. So many other teams I kept looking for that 3-and-D guy and it turns out you have them all, but not a lot else — maybe you were stockpiling for a trade? I hated the Stockton pick, overrated in this format and moves Steph off ball, and for all the terrific perimeter defense in the world, there is a serious lack of size. Still there are some dirty, dirty defenders here and I think that plus Steph’s shooting is enough to make the playoffs before going out.

8. Minnesota — Cousy, D.Thompson, Bird, CWebb, Zo

Now it’s getting tough. 7 and 8 are teams I actually really like a lot, but this is an All Time Draft for a reason so you have to have the complete package. I really love the Bird/Webber/Zo trio here but the guards left me a bit wanting. Cousy is a winner but doesn’t translate as strongly so he wasn’t the best pick, and I didn’t like Skywalker in the 2nd either, or Greer and Sikma leading the bench unit. I feel like this team would be a really great regular season team but guard play and depth pull it down before a deep playoff run.

7. Seattle — Tiny, S.Jones, Dr. J, Moses, Dwight

Again you could go with a lot of what I said about #7 Minnesota here. Like Cousy, Jones is a winner but probably not the best translated player here. This team has the twin towers of Moses and Dwight and I assume plans to play both, but that could really wreak havoc on the spacing. I think I like them better going small and playing Chris Mullin off the bench, plus maybe Houston at the 2 or Odom sometimes as a big, but all of that underlies the real problem — Moses as the 1st pick. I think you may have been your own worst Fo Fo Fo with that one in the end. Pretty good all around team but I think the better teams play the twin towers off the floor and beat the guards.

The Contenders

6. Detroit — Point Giannis, Havlicek, R.Barry, Duncan, Cowens

I’m going to take a shot on believing in the Greek Freak against all my better instincts, because the rest of the team just sets up so well. Havlicek and Duncan are two of the all time winners, and Havlicek is a guy that looks underrated historically, a 28/8/7 star wing defender. There’s a lot of length and defense here, and a lot of fundamentals as well. Kyrie is a nice option off the bench which helps offset my Giannis fears, and I love the fun pairing of rookie Karl-Anthony Towns learning from his future self Timmay all season and evolving into the third big. Paul Westphal is a nice shooting option off the bench too. There’s a lot riding on Freak here but this seems like a very Spurs-y team that would get the job done.

5. Chicago — Clyde, G.Rice, Dantley, LeBron, Ewing

Clyde and LeBron would have this team buzzing — how LeBron fell to the 4 pick (behind McGrady?!?) is beyond me. Frazier projects as a Wade type player but a better defender, and Dantley looks solid though I’d have rather secured another knock down shooter. I really didn’t like Ewing in the 2nd behind LeBron, of all the ways to build that team — especially proven by the availability of someone like Mutombo in the 6th round. Not sure what you were doing with the bench. Too many modern role guys like Andre Miller, Tayshaun Prince, and Tony Allen. There’s a lot of defensive potential here and LBJ will take them far, but I think Ewing was the wrong pick and cost them.

4. Brooklyn — T.Porter, MJ, P.George, Draymond, M.Gasol

This team is all about the defense, figuring Jordan can do enough on his own on offense. I really can’t make up my mind about Draymond in the 2nd round, #39 overall. It seems like such a stretch, but I also see you trying to find Jordan his Pippen. I can’t totally talk myself into it — feels like Draymond couldn’t play in the shadow the same way, and I’m not sure it works, especially because I’m not sure Brad Stevens can put either of them in their place. Still this team can be really really good defensively, and MJ makes them a contender. I didn’t like most of the bench picks — guys like Nene and Posey don’t belong here and I wasn’t sold on Sharman or Buse either. Manu is a nice MJ fill-in. This team has a champion’s heart and will go down swinging. I had them 7th, then 6th, then kept moving them up when I compared lineups and couldn’t see MJ letting his team lose to the ones I passed up.

3. Boston — Oscar, Moncrief, Worthy, Dirk, W.Reed

It was tough to build a great contender from the bottom of the draft — getting MJ or Lebron or Shaq is just such a massive advantage compared to West or Moses at the other end of the round — but I really liked the top 7 Boston put together. It feels like all of the old timers would really translate well to the modern NBA. James is a Worthy small forward pick and Moncrief looks like a great shooter and someone I should know more about. This is a modern offense that would score well, and both Billups and Bernard King are great shooting options off the bench too. Rick Carlisle is the perfect coach. He’ll have this offense humming and at an elite efficiency. Just wasn’t sure this team could get the big time defensive stops to beat the very top teams.

2. Los Angeles 1 — M.Blaylock, Klay, Scottie, Marion, Hakeem

This is a dirty, dirty defensive team and I love the way it was built with that clearly in mind. In an All Time Draft, there will always be enough scoring and rebounding to go around, but there are only so many truly elite defensive players — and LA has a whole lineup of them, plus Rudy Gobert a great value off the bench too. I’m not in love with the Mookie pick because of his lack of size and shooting but he’s an excellent defender that completes this team, and you have to believe Steve Kerr is going to move Klay around and find him a lot of open shots. He might be even better on this team than GSW. The Scottie-Matrix wing pairing is devasting defensively and can handle anything throw at them, and then you have The Dream getting everything done in the middle. The only thing I felt this team lacked was some shooting, and that’s where LA went late. This wouldn’t be the most entertaining team but man is it an elite one.

1. Calgary — G.Payton, R.Miller, Kawhi, H.Grant, Shaq

In the end, this was the most complete lineup of them all, the best balanced starting five that any team can roll out. You’ve got plenty of defense especially led by Kawhi and the Glove on the perimeter, there’s lots of shooting and spacing with Reggie and Kawhi, and the team has plenty of attitude and moxie. There’s also a bunch off the bench with Melo leading the way and the Microwave warming up where needed. Also if you haven’t noticed yet, this team has the best nicknames with Glove, Microwave, and all 200 of Shaq’s awesome monikers. Rudy T was an excellent late coach pick up and he’ll know how to feature Shaq in the middle and let the rest flow around it. The only pick I didn’t really love was Horace Grant, right up until I realized that he’s the perfect fit on this team, a gritty rebounding machine that can space the floor and hit the 15 footer that will be open all game with Shaq in the paint. In the end, this team will go as far as Shaq takes them, and I think he takes them all the way to the championship.

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