Thursday, January 5, 2012

The NBA #1 Pick Battle of the Decades

Here's a concept: what if the first picks in the NBA Draft all got together (in their primes) and sorted into teams based on the decade that they were drafted?

Let's explore:

The 2000s (aka Big Men For Days)
Kenyon Martin, PF
Kwame Brown, C
Yao Ming, C
LeBron James, SF
Dwight Howard, C
Andrew Bogut, C
Andrea Bargnani, F/C
Greg Oden, C
Derrick Rose, PG
Blake Griffin, PF
I see a LOT of size. Greg Oden's package aside, this team is very forward-heavy. That could come back to hurt them. Derrick Rose and LeBron can make their own shot and run the open floor, but they have no outside jump shooters. But with 6 All-Stars (Martin, Ming, James, Howard, Rose, Griffin), they could definitely produce some highlights.

The 1990s (aka The Best Decade Ever)
Derrick Coleman, F/C
Larry Johnson, F
Shaquille O'Neal, C
Chris Webber, PF
Glenn Robinson, SF
Joe Smith, PF
Allen Iverson, G
Tim Duncan, F/C
Michael Olowokandi, C
Elton Brand, PF
Okay. Maybe the BMFD team's size won't be as rare as I initially thought. Perhaps I should rename them. Nah. It's the same kind of setup here: very slim pickings in the guard department. Just Iverson. And we know how unstable he can be. But we also know how dominant he can be. And with 8 All-Star big men around him (everyone besides Smith and Olo) the team's reigns solely in his hands (because nobody else can do anything) he could shine like the residents of Philadelphia know he can.

The 1980s (aka Ball Handlers Wanted)
Joe Barry Carroll, C
Mark Aguirre, SF
James Worthy, SF
Ralph Sampson, C
Hakeem Olajuwon, C
Patrick (Ch)Ewing, C
Brad Daugherty, C
David Robertson, C
Danny Manning, PF
Pervis Ellison, C
Nine out of the ten of these guys were All-Stars. Four of them are in the Hall of Fame. One of them is in the running for best center of all time. Another is a spokesperson for Snickers. The problem is none of them can handle the ball like Rose, James, or Iverson. I think they're toast. I named them Ball Handlers Wanted for two reasons: 1. they need someone to play point guard and 2. with that name, they could also be known as the Craig's List Adult Section.

The 1970s (aka Disco)
Bob Lanier, C (chances that another NBA #1 draft pick is named Bob or goes to St. Bonaventure ever again?)
Austin Carr, G
LaRue Martin, C
Doug Collins, G/F
Bill Walton, C
David Thompson, G/F
John Lucas, PG
Kent Benson, C
Mychal Thompson, F/C
Earvin "Magic" Johnson, PG
What's this? A balance between the different positions? No way! I really like the 1-2 punch of Magic and Walton. Magic might be the only guy here that can guard Lebron. This team could do some big things in the fictional tournament.

The 1960s (aka Check Out These Guys' Names)
Oscar Robertson, G/F
Walt Bellamy, C
Bill McGill, F/C
Art Heyman, F/C
Jim Barnes, F/C
Fred Hetzel, F/C
Cazzie Russell, G/F
Jimmy Walker, SG
Elvin Hayes, F/C
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C
Damn. Aside from the variety in names, the combination of the Big O and Kareem could score an absurd amount of points. To be honest, I'm not really knowledgeable about basketball players from 50 years ago. Sorry. I'm also not really familiar with.....

The 1950s (aka Dick Ricketts)
Charlie Share, G
Gene Melchiorre, C
Mark Workman, C
Ray Felix, G/F
Frank Selvy, F/C
Dick Ricketts, G/F
Sihugo Green, G/F
Rod Hundley, G
Elgin Baylor, F
Bob Boozer, F
I'm assuming this was before society allowed black players in the NBA. Oh wait, this is Elgin Baylor:
Nevermind that theory then. I just have a hard time believing that guys named Charlie, Gene, Ray, Frank, Dick, and Bob from the 1950s would be able to coexist with a black man. I think they were all white, but they played so long ago that I'm having trouble finding pictures of all of them. Whatever. I'm sure that Elgin in his prime was good enough for the team to mesh - if the white guys would even have a problem. I'm just stereotyping the generation but obviously I don't know.

The Battle
Best Point Guard: Magic Johnson, 1970s
Any man who can defeat AIDS deserves some extra recognition.
Best Shooting Guard: Oscar Robertson, 1960s
Dude used to put up numbers like 31 points, 11 assists, and 12 rebounds per game. For the whole season.
Best Small Forward: LeBron James, 2000s
Y'all know how I feel.
Best Power Forward: Blake Griffin, 2000s
Am I biased to think that Blake could drive the lane and dunk over anybody that tried to stand in his way? That makes him the best power forward. Best, most exciting, whatever.

Best Center: Shaquille O'Neal, 1990s
It's hard to not give it to Kareem. But a 300-pound man can do a lot to affect a hook shot. Shaq'd put him on his ass.
Best Team: The 2000s
Just too fast, too athletic, and too talented on the offensive and defensive ends.
Best Team When You Take Into Account the Inflation of Talent: (it's coming)
Obviously Shaq is bigger, Rose is faster, Lebron is more godly, and yada yada yada about how the current NBA players are all better than their peers from back in the day. Okay, so let's apply some economics here: CPI and shit like that. I created a formula and discovered that the 60's, 70's, and 80's each had four Hall of Famers and the 90's will have around that many (depending on how you feel about C-Webb). It's hard to judge the 2000s but Lebron, Yao, Dwight, Rose, and Griffin all have a shot. That tells us nothing.

So I consulted another source: Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball. Essentially, it's a big book that tells young guys what the hell was so good about older guys. He sorts everyone into a Hall of Fame Pyramid. The top level is called the Pantheon. The Pantheon members that we care about are Kareem, Magic, Duncan, Oscar, Hakeem, and Shaq. The level below the top (Level 4) has two members that we care about: Elgin and LeBron. I guess I'll throw the Level 3 guys in here too because #whythefucknot: Bill Walton, David Robinson, Iverson. Levels 1 and 2 are both huge so I won't even go there. I shall name the top 3 levels of the Pantheon "the Triangles" because the top half of a pyramid forms a triangle and because I can. The tally is now:
1950s: 5 All-Stars, 1 Hall of Famer, 1 Triangle
1960s: 6 All-Stars, 4 Hall of Famers, 2 Triangles
1970s: 6 All-Stars, 4 Hall of Famers, 2 Triangles
1980s: 9 All-Stars, 4 Hall of Famers, 3 Triangles
1990s: 8 All-Stars, 3-4 Hall of Famers, 3 Triangles
2000s: 6 All-Stars, 3-4 Hall of Famers, 2 Triangles (I'm counting on Rose or Howard)

Best Team When You Take Into Account the Inflation of Talent: The 1980s
When it comes down to it, their lack of a guard won't be a big deal. Sure, Iverson and Rose could blow right past the perimeter defenders - but team BHW is going to have two or three centers on the court at all times. Someone is going to block every attempt at the rim. Good luck stopping Olajuwon, Ewing, Sampson, and Robertson down low. And Worthy can put up some points, too. So in this fictional tournament of highly-drafted men, the crown goes to the decade of Miracle, (hey did you guys know Marvin Gaye's father shot and killed him?), MJ's Thriller, and the beginning of AIDS. Oh, and this:

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