Posts Tagged ‘Bill Russell’

Russell Westbrook’s MVP Bid and History

March 5, 2015

I’m not going to write a big post about whether or not Russell Westbrook deserves the MVP award.  He certainly deserves consideration.  What I am going to write about is how unicorn – rare it is for two different players from the same team to win the MVP award in back to back years.

The last time it happened was 1957 and 1958 when Red Auerbach’s dynasty was still young.  Bob Cousy won his last MVP award in ’57, and Bill Russell won his first MVP award in ’58.

Even having two teammates win MVP while they are both still on the same team is extremely rare.  Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it.  Kareem won his 6th and final MVP award in 1980.  Magic won the first of his three MVPs in 1987 while Kareem was still a Laker.  Moses Malone and Julius Irving both won MVPs as 76ers, but Doc won his before Moses joined the team.

That’s the list.  Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant both won MVP awards, but Kobe’s came years after Shaq left the Lakers.

Really if Russell Westbrook wins the MVP award in this season, while he and Kevin Durant are both in their primes, it will be unprecedented.  Cousy stopped winning MVPs after Russell won his first because Bob was at the tail end of his career, and it was crystal clear that Bill Russell was the lynchpin of the team.  Kareem was well past his prime when Magic won his first.

Of course the reason that Furious Styles has a shot at MVP this year is because he has been a stat-machine on a winning team in the absence of Durant.  Had Shaq missed a little more time in 2003, maybe Kobe would have been a serious contender that year (though Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady both had insane seasons in ’03).  If LeBron had been out in 2011, maybe Dwyane Wade becomes an MVP candidate that year and James takes in 2012.  Basically you need two of top 5 players in the league on one team, and they need to trade off who is doing the heavy lifting from year to year, which won’t happen without something like an injury.

None of this is to say at this point that I think Westbrook is the 2015 MVP front runner.  Stephen Curry and James Harden are probably still the best bets with LeBron James coming on strong.  It’s just that Westbrook’s candidacy is remarkable in light of Durant’s award last season.

NBA Top 50 – MVP Shares

December 27, 2013

Rank Player MVP Shares
1 Michael Jordan* 8.138
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 6.203
3 Larry Bird* 5.693
4 LeBron James 5.387
5 Magic Johnson* 5.129
6 Bill Russell* 4.827
7 Shaquille O’Neal 4.38
8 Karl Malone* 4.296
9 Wilt Chamberlain* 4.269
10 Tim Duncan 4.261
11 Kobe Bryant 4.206
12 David Robinson* 3.123
13 Moses Malone* 2.873
14 Kevin Garnett 2.753
15 Bob Pettit* 2.628
16 Hakeem Olajuwon* 2.611
17 Oscar Robertson* 2.479
18 Charles Barkley* 2.438
19 Steve Nash 2.429
20 Jerry West* 2.09
21 Kevin Durant 2.019
22 Dirk Nowitzki 1.804
23 Elgin Baylor* 1.659
24 Allen Iverson 1.567
25 Bob McAdoo* 1.494
26 Patrick Ewing* 1.424
27 Chris Paul 1.423
28 Julius Erving* 1.407
29 Dave Cowens* 1.338
30 Dwight Howard 1.249
31 Willis Reed* 1.073
32 Derrick Rose 0.981
33 Alonzo Mourning 0.968
34 Jason Kidd 0.933
35 George Gervin* 0.911
36 Bob Cousy* 0.882
37 Tracy McGrady 0.855
38 Dominique Wilkins* 0.849
39 Gary Payton* 0.823
40 Dwyane Wade 0.793
41 Clyde Drexler* 0.778
42 Scottie Pippen* 0.716
43 Sidney Moncrief 0.695
44 Dolph Schayes* 0.69
45 Wes Unseld* 0.639
46 Bernard King* 0.625
47 Rick Barry* 0.592
48 Chris Webber 0.588
49 Elvin Hayes* 0.571
50 Grant Hill 0.52

A couple days ago, we put together a top 15 list using playoff success as our criteria for consideration and then boiling down using stats, titles, and awards. It was a stilted approach in that I set out to be as inclusive as possible in determining playoff success but then was totalitarian in crediting the awards.

The above list is the top 50 cumulative career percentage of MVP votes received. Essentially the voters have a 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place vote every year. If one player were to receive 100% of the 1st place votes, he still would not get all the MVP shares for that year, because the 2nd and 3rd place votes comprise part of the whole. Since the voting is rarely ever that one-sided, generally the actual award winner’s total share leaves a lot for the runners up to add to their total.

What’s nice about measuring with the shares rather than just giving an arbitrary credit for winning the award is that it credits guys who were consistently high in the running but may have lost out to others due to missed games or when two great players starred for the same team and split the vote. Shaq and Kobe are good examples of players who may have got in each other’s way when it came to actually winning the MVP but both consistently received large portions of the vote – they are 7th and 11th respectively even though they each only won a single MVP award.

The other good thing about using voting results as a measure of player greatness is that voters can approach the game from a more nuanced perspective than numbers. If we picked MVP by statistics each year, Wilt would have 10, and Russell would have very few. Something was happening to make voters break the 60s up into some votes for Wilt, some votes for Russell, and enough votes for Oscar to win one year. As I wasn’t around at that time, and heck even the people who were avid fans didn’t have great exposure to all the teams and players, the views of the voters are all the context that we really have to go on to help supplement the raw numbers.

A quick note on the limitations of stats: take a look at Michael Jordan’s season in 1992. His team won 67 games and absolutely dominated the league with a margin of victory of 10.44. Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant had their most efficient seasons. Obsessive basketball nerds like Bill Simmons (and me) consider 1992 to be the season where Jordan was at the peak of his basketball ability. It is also his worst statistical season in half a decade. His PER fell 4 points. His TS% dropped by 2.5. His free throw rate dropped by 4%. His ORtg fell by 4 points.

Basically all of his personal efficiency numbers tanked, and his team was better for it. Why? Well I was 13 at the time, and I don’t remember seeing him do anything all that different, but I’d guess it’s because he was giving up some of the isolation plays that led to his drives to the rim for easy scores and free throws in order to run the triangle and keep his teammates involved. Whatever happened, I don’t think MJ fell of a cliff at the age of 28, and his new play style worked to the tune of the best season any team had between the 1987 Lakers and the Bulls again in 1996.

So while Jordan’s box score stats indicated that this was the worst he’d played in half a decade and show a massive drop from 1991, his MVP shares actually went up by 1% from his previous MVP and by over 10% from his first MVP in 1988 (when he had the best season ever by PER standards). Granted, the metrics that I’m referring to didn’t exist back then, and the points, assists, and rebounds were still strong, so maybe that increase in MVP shares isn’t voters capturing nuances of Jordan’s game so much as voters responding to a dip in Barkley’s production and the absence of Magic Johnson. Still this is one subjective record of a player’s impact on his team and on the league that we have access to, and it dates all the way back to the late 1950s.

The weakness of using this measure is that MVP voting is not an exact science by any means. The criteria is ill-defined to the point of being almost useless. How is “value” defined for NBA players? Is it the player who personally accounts for the most wins on his team? If so then the best producer is probably that guy. Is it the player who takes a step back statistically to allow others to flourish? If so it’s probably the best player on the winningest team. It’s a very nebulous concept, and some players seem to get the lion’s share of credit that could be more evenly distributed. Take a look at Karl Malone sitting between Shaq and Wilt on the list. The asterisk next to his name is to indicate that he’s in the hall of fame, but it should be to indicate that 40% of his MVP shares belong to John Stockton, who incredibly does not make this list at all.

I stumbled across this list on Bastketball-Reference.com, and thought it was worth sharing. It’s not a definitive ranking by any means, but it is a good snapshot of how great players have been perceived by award voters over the years and certainly has some merit as a tool to help add some context to the box score numbers.

15 Greatest NBA Players

December 24, 2013

The 15 greatest players in NBA (and ABA) history:

1. Michael Jordan
2. Bill Russell
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
4. Wilt Chamberlain
5. LeBron James
6. Tim Duncan
7. Shaquille O’Neal
8. Magic Johnson
9. Julius Erving*
10. Kobe Bryant
11. Larry Bird
12. Jerry West
13. Hakeem Olajuwon
14. Sam Jones
15. Bob Pettit

*Includes ABA career

Here at Double Dribble we’ve done player rankings in the past, usually based on one statistic or another, examining who is “best.” For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to formulate a system for ranking players based not on who is or was the best player but on who had the greatest career. I don’t usually think in those terms, but a few recent discussions have intrigued me. In particular Rick Fox stated in an NBA Hangtime podcast that Kobe Bryant would go down as the greatest player in Lakers history and NBA history. Note- greatest, not best.

What’s the difference between being the best and being the greatest? My interpretation is that being the best means having the highest level of ability with ability being a mix of physical talents, practiced techniques, and IQ for the game. When we debate whether LeBron James might be better than Michael Jordan, we compare their abilities as players. Greatness is about accomplishments including significant statistical measures, team success, and awards. So if one were to say that Larry Bird was better than Magic Johnson, but that Magic had the greater career and deserves a higher place in the GOAT list, that’s not necessarily a contradiction.

Greatness is easier to support than bestness, but it is also more driven by circumstance. Charles Barkley may have been a better overall player than Karl Malone, but that is a long, difficult argument that requires considerable support and explanation. Karl will go down as greater than Barkley because he had more post-season success and maintained better health for longer. One could contend that had Barkley played with John Stockton his whole career like Karl did, he would have had more playoff success. Easier to justify greatness but more circumstantial.

All of this lead in is to say that I decided to focus the lens on greatness for this player ranking exercise. I took a cue from Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and ESPN fame. Wilbon told me (in an online chat) that he would take the 1984 draft class of Jordan, Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, and John Stockton over the 2003 draft class of James, Wade, Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony because the former group made more NBA Finals. I thought that was an odd criteria, but when it comes to legacy and the measure of greatness, deep playoff runs are really the crux of the argument.

Longevity, statistical milestones, and awards are all very important, but playoff success is often where the race starts. Think of comparable players like Allen Iverson and Isaiah Thomas. AI led the league in scoring multiple times and won a league MVP. Zeke went to multiple finals, won two championships, and has a Finals MVP. Which of them is typically considered greater? Thomas. Hands down. We don’t even get to consider stats because we stop considering at the back to back titles. Is Zeke better? Is he more valuable? Those are completely separate questions.

Rather than insist that players made the NBA Finals a certain number of times or anything quite that arbitrary, I ran a search, year by year of players that played a sufficient number of games to win the title regardless of how far they actually progressed. This number was a moving target over the years as league expansion and playoff reformatting impacted the number and length of playoff series. In the NBA today a team must win 16 games in order to be champion. For most of the history of the ABA it only took 12 wins. For most of Bill Russell’s career, a team could win a title in just 9 games.

My base criteria for consideration was 4 seasons where the player played at least enough playoff games to have won a championship with a minute average over 30 per game. I then took the top 4 seasons by each of these players (4 seasons is pretty tough to come by and narrowed the list nicely) and rated them based on weighted statistical (I used averaged PER and WS48) measures and gave additional credit for each finals made, championship, finals MVP, and regular season MVP all weighted against different values. I’m not going to put my formula here because it is still evolving and isn’t especially scientific, but these particular players were pretty much constant no matter how I shifted the scale, and the top 5 didn’t really change (though James and Duncan are in a near-tie at this stage).

Examining the results, I was surprised that the list gave me almost exactly what I would expect at the top. Jordan, the big three centers, and LeBron in some order is what I think most experts would give for a top 5. Then Magic, Bird, and Kobe would make most lists. Shaq and Doctor J are probably a little more surprising, but when you look at their accomplishments (if you include the ABA for Doc), they’re pretty hard to ignore. Hakeem is often included ahead of O’Neal but I just couldn’t find any statistical measure or accomplishment scale that would allow for that. Dream might have been better. He might have been more valuable. He wasn’t greater.

The most surprising exclusion was Oscar Robertson, and again, this is entirely because of the greatness criteria. Oscar’s Royals just didn’t advance far enough in the playoffs often enough. He does in fact have 4 total seasons and shows up at #30 on this list, but two of those seasons are in Milwaukee with Kareem when Oscar was past his prime. If I weighted regular season stats and factored them in as well, Oscar would likely make the top 15 (I should probably do that).

The only player who really stands out as a surprise to make the group is Sam Jones, but when you consider he was often the leading scorer on the Russell title teams, it’s not inconceivable that he deserves to be mentioned as one of the greatest, if not the best, players ever. Elgin Baylor and John Havlicek just missed the top 15 cut off, and Karl Malone and Dwyane Wade weren’t far behind them.

Players who might make a best list but missed the criteria for this greatest list due to not making it deep enough into the playoffs quite enough times include Moses Malone, Kevin Garnett, David Robinson, Dirk Nowitzki, Charles Barkley, Artis Gilmore, and current stars like Chris Paul and Kevin Durant.

Quick positions breakdown: 5 guards (Jordan, Magic, Bryant, West, and Jones), 5 centers (Russell, Kareem, Wilt, Shaq, Hakeem), and 5 forwarders (LeBron, Duncan, Doc, Bird, Pettit)

Quick era breakdown: 5 Late 1950s to Early 1970s (Russell, Wilt, West, Jones, Pettit), 6 Mid 1970s to Mid 1990s (Jordan, Kareem, Magic, Doc, Bird, Hakeem), 4 Late 1990s to Early 2010s (LeBron, Duncan, Shaq, Kobe)

10 Players with Multiple NBA Finals MVPs

July 25, 2013

In a mutated off-budding of yesterday’s frivolous but fun All-Decade All-NBA teams, today we have the All Multiple NBA Finals MVP Awards Team. 10 players in NBA history have amassed 2 or more NBA Finals MVP awards. This is the list:

6 – Michael Jordan
3 – Magic Johnson
3 – Shaquille O’Neal
3 – Tim Duncan
2 – Willis Reed
2 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
2 – Larry Bird
2 – Hakeem Olajuwon
2 – Kobe Bryant
2 – LeBron James

That is not a 10 Greatest Players list, but it’s a damn close approximation of one. Finals MVP was not awarded prior to 1969, the last year that Bill Russell played, and a year his Celtics won the title (the Finals MVP went to the great Jerry West in a losing effort). So granting that this list completely fails to capture anything that happened in the 1960s, it’s a solid indication of who the best players were in their days. That’s also (by popular opinion anyway) the best PG, the two best SGs, the two best SFs, the best PF, and three of the top five Cs of all time.

It’s also a bitchin’ team! Sure 5 of the 10 players could be classified as centers, but who cares? Distributing playing time is the imaginary coach’s (Phil Jackson) imaginary problem. And now we’ll help him solve it.

Let’s all agree now that as great as he was, Willis Reed is a garbage time player on this team. There’s just no way to get court time for all the great big men in a 48 minute game. But I’m sure he’s a beast in scrimmages. Honestly we should probably ditch one more big guy as nothing but a foul trouble / injury insurance plan, especially given that James and Bird could both give PF minutes (so could Magic if there was another PG on the team), but I can’t diss Cap, Snaq Daddy, Dream, or Timmy! that way.

240 total minutes are broken up thusly:

48 minutes for point guard

96 minutes for wings

96 minutes for bigs

PG Magic 28min, LeBron 20min
SG Jordan 29min, Kobe 19min
SF Bird 29min, LeBron 9min, Kobe 10min
PF Duncan 24min, Hakeem 24min
C Kareem 24 Min, Shaq 24min

Total minutes: Magic 28, Jordan 29, Kobe 29, Bird 29, LeBron 29, Duncan 24, Hakeem 24, Kareem 24, Shaq 24

Perimeter combinations:

Magic, Kobe, LeBron – 9 Minutes
LeBron, Jordan, Kobe – 10 Minutes
Magic, Jordan, Bird – 19 Minutes
LeBron, Kobe, Bird – 10 Minutes

Running team: Magic, Michael, Kobe, LeBron, Duncan
Defensive team: Michael, Kobe, LeBron, Duncan, Hakeem
Shooting team: LeBron, Michael, Kobe, Bird, Kareem
Giant team: Magic, LeBron, Bird, Hakeem, Shaq
Clutch team: Magic, Michael, Kobe, Bird, Kareem
PJax Team: LeBron, Michael, Kobe, Duncan, Shaq
Riley Team: Magic, Jordan, Bird, LeBron, Kareem

Honestly having nine all-time greats is still too many. An eight player rotation would work way better. Years ago I wrote a post making the absolute best playing rotation I could out of players I’d seen play in their primes (mid-80s to today which was probably 2009 or 10 at the time), and every one of them is in this group. We had: Magic, MJ, Kobe, Bird, Bron, Tim, and Hakeem. I know that’s only 7 players, but I honestly don’t need any more to fill out the minutes or the skill sets. This shorter rotation would play thusly:

PG: Magic 34min, LeBron 14min
SG: Jordan 36min, Kobe 12min
SF: Bird 24min, Kobe 24min
PF: LeBron 20min, Bird 10min, Duncan 18min
C: Hakeem 33min, Duncan 15min

Total minutes: Magic 34, Michael, 36, Kobe 36, Bird 34, James, 34, Tim 33, Hakeem 33

Very manageable minutes for these guys even if they give maximum effort all game every game. Adding an 8th player really knocks the minutes down. Everybody could play 30. Like so:

PG: Magic 30min, LeBron 18min
SG: Jordan 30min, Kobe 18min
SF: Bird 30min, Kobe 12min, LeBron 6
PF: LeBron 6, Duncan 30, Hakeem 12
C: Hakeem 18, Shaq 30

I love doing this sort of fantasy all-time GMing. Way more fun than coming up with lists and rankings because you can picture line-ups and play styles.

One last game: NBA Finals MVP Teams by Decade:

1980s

PG: 1987 Magic, 1982 Magic
SG: 1980 Magic, 1989 Joe Dumars
SF: 1986 Larry Bird, 1988 James Worthy
PF: 1984 Larry Bird, 1981 Cedric Maxwell
C: 1983 Moses Malone, 1985 Kareem

Rotation: Lots of Magic and Bird. Little to no Worthy or Ced. Huge on the perimeter. Great rebounding and shooting. Lack of shotblocking and athleticism. Most fun thing would be to watch wing Magic run a lane for point Magic while wing Bird spaced the floor and big Bird (ha!) fought for rebounding position. Kareem was well past his prime, and Moses was at his apex and would be necessary to secure boards, but I do think Kareem finishes games with the double Magic, double Bird line-up (maybe Dumars gets in for defenses purposes).

1990s

PG: 1991 Jordan, 1990 Isiah Thomas
SG: 1992 Jordan, 1993 Jordan
SF: 1996 Jordan, 1997 Jordan, 1998 Jordan
PF: 1999 Duncan
C: 1994 Hakeem, 1995 Hakeem

Rotation: Lots of younger Jordan. No Zeke. Perfect 4/5 rotation. Unbelievable defensively. Would be fun to see the various incarnations of Jordan come into play. 27 year old Jordan averaged 11 assists per game in the Finals and would be the PG. 1992 and 1993 Jordan were both devastating from behind the arc in the Finals, so they’d be the primary floor spacing agents. 1996 Jordan was basically operating as a forward anyway with Scottie manning the point.

2000s:

PG: 2004 Chauncey Billups, 2007 Tony Parker
SG: 2009 Kobe Bryant, 2006 Dwyane Wade
SF: 2008 Paul Pierce
PF: 2003 Tim Duncan, 2005 Tim Duncan
C: 2000 Shaq, 2001 Shaq, 2002 Shaq

Rotation: Matchup specific with very fresh, dominant big men. Double Duncan for the last 2 mintues. Kobe, Wade, and Paul manning the wings would be excellent. Could also go big with Wade at PG for matchups. Shaq, Shaq, and Shaq could be terrifyingly aggressive all game. Everybody could pretty much just be themselves because of the two PGs who made the team, but because Parker isn’t pass first or a floor spacer, Billups would probably be the main man there to give room for all the interior devastation.

2010s

PG: 2012 LeBron
SG: 2010 Kobe
SF: 2013 LeBron
PF: 2011 Dirk Nowitzki

In progress…

All-NBA All-Decade Teams

July 24, 2013

I was looking over the historical All-NBA teams and noticed several surprising facts. Did you know that Kobe Bryant is tied with Kareem for the most total All-NBA teams made for a career at 15 and is tied with Karl Malone for the most times on the 1st team at 11? That’s amazing longevity. No other guard has more than 12 career All-NBA teams (Cousy and West both have 12). Only 9 players have double figure All-NBA 1st team appearances: Malone, Bryant, Cousy, West, Baylor, Pettit, Jordan, Kareem, and Duncan. The most consecutive All-NBA first teams earned is by Karl Malone with 11 (every year from ’89 to ’99). Several players won the MVP in years that they did not make the All-NBA 1st team for their position including Bill Russell on multiple occasions. The player with the most All-NBA team selections who never made an All-NBA 1st team is Hal Greer who was selected to 7 All-NBA 2nd teams, which shows the dominance of Oscar and West in the ’60s. The only player to make multiple All-NBA 1st teams no All-NBA 2nd or 3rd teams in Elgin Baylor with 10 first team appearances. A surprisingly high number of players who only made 1 All-NBA team in their careers made the 1st team that year including Kevin McHale (shocking!), Latrell Sprewell, Truck Robinson, Gail Goodrich, Earl Monroe, and Derrick Rose and Wes Unseld who each won the MVP that same year.

Below are All-NBA All-Decade teams taken from the players who best represented each decade’s All-NBA list. Note – I went exactly by the numbers and took 2 PGs, 4 Wings (Sg-Sf) and 4 Bigs (Pf-C) from each decade. In a fairytale fantasy series played out between the various eras, I think I’d mix the teams differently. Some of the them are light on shooters or ball-handlers depending on the decade. It does show what the voters tended to value most though.

1960s

P – Oscar Robertson
P – Bob Cousy
W – Jerry West
W – Elgin Baylor
W – Hal Greer
W – Bill Sharman
B – Bill Russell
B – Wilt Chamberlain
B – Bob Pettit
B – Jerry Lucas

I like this group. I could see an 8 man playoff rotation of Big O, Cous, West, Elgin, Greer, Russ, Wilt, and Pettit competing with absolutely anyone. They would want to play uptempo and pressure on defense relying on two of the great basket protectors of all time to erase mistakes. They ought to own the glass and could rely on Oscar and West in clutch situations.

1970s

P – Walt Frazier
P – Tiny Archibald
W – Julius Erving
W – John Havlicek
W – Rick Barry
W – Billy Cunningham
B – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
B – Elvin Hayes
B – Spencer Hayward
B – Willis Reed

This is one of those groups that comes out a little uneven because all the wings are forwards, but Hondo and Barry both played enough guard to get by as the secondary ball handlers, and Clyde’s big enough to defend the two in a double PG lineup with Tiny. This team’s got everything. Great guard play, great athleticism, great shooting, and the most unstoppable post player this side of Shaq.

1980s

P – Magic Johnson
P – Isiah Thomas
W – Larry Bird
W – George Gervin
W – Dominique Wilkins
W – Sydney Moncrief
B – Moses Malone
B – Robert Parish
B – Terry Cummings
B – Kevin McHale

The ’80s cupboard was a little bit emptied by my need to assign the ’84 draft class to the ’90s team, so they missed out on three of the 5 best players of the decade in Jordan, Hakeem, and Barkley. That said, this group would still hold its own with any other – a sure sign that the talent was brimming over back in the day. It’s a great breakdown of all the skills you’d want on the court with a great ability to run mixed lineups with Magic or Larry at the 4. As with any team with Magic Johnson on it, the gameplan is “give the ball to Magic and fill the lanes.”

1990s

P – John Stockton
P – Gary Payton
W – Michael Jordan
W – Scottie Pippen
W – Clyde Drexler
W – Grant Hill
B – Hakeem Olajuwon
B – Karl Malone
B – Charles Barkley
B – David Robinson

Size? Check. Athleticism? Check. Defense? Double check! Playmaking? Check. Shooting? Well, shooting could be an issue. I love the versatility of this team. You could run out a Riley style slugfest group built around Hakeem, David, Scottie, MJ, and Glove and just dare the other team to try to score. Sure you’d be reliant on Michael and Hakeem turning nothing into something on offense, but that’s why you’ve got Michael and Hakeem. You could play crazy up and down ball with what might be the best team speed of any of the decades. You could go Phil Jackson big guard crazy and bench both PGs or give the team to Jerry Sloan and watch the Stockton / Malone magic ensue. Or you could just tell them to pretend it’s the 1992 Olympics since most of the Dream Team is here.

2000s

P – Steve Nash
P – Jason Kidd
W – Kobe Bryant
W – Tracy McGrady
W – Allen Iverson
W – Paul Pierce
B – Shaquille O’Neal
B – Tim Duncan
B – Dirk Nowitzki
B – Kevin Garnett

Like the ’80s this group is missing a lot talent that got assigned to the 2010 squad in the form of LeBron, Wade, and Melo from the 2003 draft, but also like the ’80s team, there’s still talent to spare. Probably the best group of bigs in the pool with Snaq Daddy, Timmy!, Dirk, and KG providing the mad combo of offense, defense, and Germanic heritage. Like the ’90s squad they are a little short on shooters, but they make up for it in skill and intensity. This is just a great amalgam of talent that could do anything it wants to. 7 second or less, triangle all day, any of Pops stuff, Docs stuff, inside-out, drive and kick, defensive clusterfudge, whatever you want. They could even go huge with TMac playing point forward, Kobe defending point guards, KG defending 3s, and Dirk spacing the floor, with Tim or Diesel holding down the paint.

2010s

P – Chris Paul
P – Russell Westbrook
W – LeBron James
W – Kevin Durant
W – Dwyane Wade
W – Carmelo Anthony
B – Dwight Howard
B – Blake Griffin
B – Kevin Love
B – Marc Gasol

This team is sort of a project in the works kind of a unit. I promise Bron and KD are correct. Everyone else is sort of suspect at this point. It’s a nice mix that would probably be better off playing to this era’s strengths and going small most of the time to maximize the amount of time its best player are in the game together. I think the easiest way to get a good offense out of them would be to give the ball to Chris Paul and let him run pick and pop with Durant until the other team goes home in tears. If that fails there’s always LeBron in the mid-post. This unit’s best quality would be the ability of just about everyone on the floor to put the pressure on and attack, attack, attack. Defensively they are solid all over with special standouts in James, Dwight, and Gasol the Lesser to really make it tough. This will probably be a much different group by 2019.