Would a Lakers team with Magic, Kareem AND Kobe be too strong? How about pairing Bird, Russell and The Truth in Celtic green? Imagine MJ, Pippen and Rodman with an 11-time All Star manning the middle!
Downtown’s Tommy Greer, Liam Santamaria and Roy Ward snake-drafted 16 NBA franchises, divided them into two brackets (East and West) and randomly assigned their Conference seedings. Five starters were chosen along with one extra (either a Coach or a 6th Man).
Throughout August, as the basketball world waits patiently for the FIBA World Cup to begin, we are debating which franchise can construct the greatest starting five (plus one) of all time.
You, the readers, determine the winning franchise from each match-up by casting your vote in the comment section at the bottom of the page, on Twitter or on Facebook and the victors shall progress to the next round.
Today we complete the other half of the Western Conference first round, with Warriors vs Spurs and Rockets vs Trail Blazers.
You be the judge.
Golden State Warriors (Roy)
PG – Tim Hardaway (1991/92)
Tim Hardaway was an icon with the Warriors in the 1990s, he gave the club a glamour image and his crossover was emulated around the world, his knee injury cut him down in his prime.
SG – Steph Curry (2015/16)
Steph Curry is winning a spot on promise, his opening few seasons and his heroics in the playoffs leads me to think he will take a very high place in Warriors’ history by the time his career is over.
SF – Rick Barry (1974/75)
Rick Barry holds a raft of club records and was a mega star in his prime, his scoring prowess will forever live in NBA history.
PF – Nate Thurmond (1967/68)
With seven All-Star appearances as a Warrior between ’65 and ’74, Thurmond was an intimidating force inside. He was the first player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double and he averaged 20 & 20 in 1968. That’s right…averaged.
C – Wilt Chamberlain (take your pick)
A young Wilt Chamberlain takes the center position. He was a star for several seasons when the club was in Philadelphia and then San Francisco.
6th Man – Chris Mullin (1991/92)
Chris Mullin should have been in this team, so I’ve found a role for him off the bench. His career and post-career have played a big role in building the club.
Vs San Antonio: This game is all about controlling the boards and controlling the tempo. If the Spurs can keep the pace down then they’ll really trouble my Warriors with their half-court game.
In reality the Thurmond/Chamberlain combo should make things tough for Duncan and Robinson in the front court and when the Warriors get tired of feeding the Big Dipper, expect Barry and Curry to fight it out for the most three-point shots.
San Antonio Spurs (Greer)
PG – Tony Parker (2008/09)
Parker has managed to become San Antonio’s clear cut best PG of all time. His ability to constantly carve through the League’s best defenses and get all the way to cup has set him aside from the rest. Somehow the tiny point guard manages to find himself among the league leaders in FG% each year; converting his rain-making floater at insane percentages.
During 08/09 Parker averaged 22pts and 7ast at 50% from the floor which although impressive, did not even start to earn him the credit he deserved.
SG – Manu Ginobili (2007/08)
It has now become impossible to make an all time Spurs team without including the Big 3. Manu however, is an often overlooked and under-appreciated piece in that treble. Manu is now a 4-time Champion and 2-time All Star. His most productive year for the Spurs came in the 07/08 season averaging 19.5 pts, 4.8rebs, and 4.5 ast. Those numbers won’t make you fall off your chair, however he produced those as the Spurs 6th man, only starting in 23 games for the entire season. Manu is not on this team for his numbers, he makes it for his unique ability to change the momentum of a game with a single possession. A crazy fast break pull up, a down the lane jam and most importantly his ability to stand up when the game is on the line. For these reason, the Argentinean great is my San Antonio Spurs shooting guard.
SF – George Gervin (1979/80)
The ‘Iceman”. With averages of 33 and 5.2 during the 79/80 season, Gervin was a cold blooded scorer and possibly the best ever to don a Spurs uniform.
PF – Tim Duncan (2001/02)
Arguably the best power forward of All Time. In a ‘best team of all time’ bracket that is a handy title for my starting four man to have. The Big Fundamental has career averages of 20.9 pts 11.4 reb 3.1 ast and 2.3 blks and has been one of the most consistent players to ever play the game. You know what you’re going to get out of Timmy. You’re going to get a best PF of All Time kind of performance.
C – David Robinson (1993/94)
The Admiral fills in the final starting spot at center and it’s only fitting that it should be alongside the man he helped tutor during his final seasons. Robinson once scored 70 points in a single game and he posted career numbers of 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game on his way to a Hall of Fame induction. Wilt will have his work cut out for him at the defensive end against Mr Robinson.
Coach – Gregg Popovich
Putting aside his amazing accomplishments as a coach, I think we’d all want to see these in-game interviews with Pop. There is not much more captivating television than watching a sideline reporter trying to construct a question that Pop will not dismember with a stern one-word, response. Ultimately, said reporter is left looking stupid and sheepish every time.
Vs Warriors: Over the past decade to 15 years the Spurs have been without question the most dominant team in the NBA. They’ve won 5 titles and had but one season logging less than 50 wins (which was their 37-13 lockout season). Parker’s underestimated basketball IQ and deft ability to score in the lane, Manu’s slippery slashing and ‘cahunas’ to make the incredible game changing play at just the right time, George Gervin’s smooth offensive prowess, possibly the greatest PF of All Time and the man who taught him his craft, ‘The Admiral’ David Robinson. All this bound together by the pretty little bow that is Gregg Popovich (probably the only time Pop gets described as a pretty little anything I should think).
The Spurs advance here.
Houston Rockets (Greer)
PG – Steve Francis (2001/02)
Stevie Franchise may be an unpopular choice among die-hard Houston Rocket fans as he narrowly beat-out a club legend in Calvin Murphy. However, Steve’s 2001/02 season where he averaged 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists was simply too good to refuse. Although Murphy is considered one of the Rockets’ great leaders, his comparative career stat line simply do not stack up.
SG – Tracy McGrady (2004/05)
Tracy McGrady is another vote for the ‘new school’. The decision was between Drexler and McGrady here. Both had their best years playing elsewhere, yet still managed to put up big enough lines while at Houston to earn themselves the title of top two shooting guard the Rockets have ever had. In Clyde’s best year at the club he only managed 52 games which is a shame as he was averaging 19, 7 & 6. TMac was a Rocket from 2004 through to 2010 and in his best season (2004/05) he averaged 26,6 & 6 gaining him the nod.SF – Elvin Hayes (1971/72)
Hayes, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, selected himself. His career averages of 21 points and 12.5 rebounds are testament to the way he dominated the glass at both ends. During his first stint with the Rockets in ‘71/72, Hayes put up 25 points and 14 boards per game with a reputation as an absolute dog on defense. This team will rebound – all you Trail Blazers fans better hope they can shoot 100% from the field as anything that comes off the rim is heading back the other way.
PF – Moses Malone (1981/82)
Mosses Malone was a monster! In ‘81/82 he averaged 31 and 15 at 51% from the field. The sheer size, strength and aggressiveness of Moses gives this team an edge and his physical play will compliment the fluent, almost surgical moves of Hakeem in the block. This Clutch City squad brings the best of both worlds; power and finesse.
C – Hakeem Olajuwon (1989/90)
Olajuwon was a first ballot Hall of Fame player who brought two NBA championships to Houston and is known as one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. I’m not even going with 1994 MVP Hakeem here, I’m selecting the ‘89/90 season, in which The Dream averaged 24pts, 14rbs, 2stls and 4.6blks, per game. Houston is littered with some of the all-time great big men; the kind of talent that will matchup well with the best any other team has to offer (including LA and Boston). Yao Ming, Charles Barkley and Ralph Sampson have all missed out on spots in the starting five.
Coach – Rudy Tomjonavich (1993/94)
The toss up between Rudy Tomjonavich as coach or Ralph Sampson/Yao Ming as a 6th Man was a tough one. Given that we already have the center position locked up nice and tight with Hakeem and Moses, I’m going with Rudy T. During the ‘93/94 championship season Rudy T’s managerial style and ability to have his squad so explicitly prepared for each game rocketed him to the top of the NBA coaching ranks. That unique style of Rudy’s could not be more suited to this team of superstars. Tomjanovich gets the nod here because you should never “underestimate the heart of a champion.”
Vs Portland: This Houston Rockets squad, with a little luck, could find themselves sneaking through this bracket all the way to Western Conference Finals. However there will be no sneaking involved in this 1st round dismemberment. Moses Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon will stand toe to toe, and beat, almost any other frontcourt tandem in this contest. The combo of Maurice Lucas and Bill Walton will be lucky to cause a bleep on their radar as they dream-shake and thunder-dunk their way to dominating the paint. Although Stevie Franchise did not stand the test of time in the league, in 01/02 he was one of the biggest names in the NBA and would eat Terry Porter up with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Drexler and TMac would be one hell of a popcorn contest resulting in a coin flip and I’m calling the Elvin Hayes and Sidney Wicks matchup a wash also. With clear advantages in the PG, PF and C positions my mighty Rockets will finally give TMac that ever-elusive 2nd round playoff appearance in Clutch City.
Portland Trail Blazers (Santamaria)
PG – Terry Porter (1990-91)
Porter was a prolific dimer and an assassin from behind the arc. He’s bringing almost 20 & 10 at over 50% from the floor and over 40% from behind the arc.
SG – Clyde Drexler (1991-92)
Clyde the Glide was one of the best wing players of all time; a 9-time All Star and Hall of Famer. Averaged 27 points, 7 boards, 7 dimes, 2 steals and a block in ’92.
SF – Sidney Wicks (1974-75)
Won 3 consecutive NCAA championships with Wooden at UCLA and then stepped into the league and was an All Star and ROY right off the bat. 4 All Star appearances and averages of 20 & 10 across his 5 years with the Blazers.
PF – Maurice Lucas (1976/77)
The Enforcer was a 5-time all-star and edges out 2013/14 LaMarcus Aldridge in the PF spot. He was 20 & 10 on the Blazers ’77 Championship Team and he is going to knock Vince Carter on his ass. Bet on it.
C – Bill Walton (1977 or ‘78)
Prior to the injuries, Walton was an absolute force down low. His combination of strength, touch, athleticism and basketball IQ made him one of the all-time greats in the middle. In his Book of Basketball, Simmons writes “If you made a checklist of what you want from a center, Walton’s the only player who gets check marks in every category”. Hard to pick between his ’77 title year and his ’78 MVP year.
6th Man – Rasheed Wallace (2000-01)
Sheed leads the NBA all-time in technical fouls, with over 300. In the 2000–01 season, he received 41 technical fouls over a span of 80 games, That’s about one tech for every two games. Outstanding!
Vs Houston: The Rockets have their hands full here. Porter and Drexler will run rings around Francis and McGrady while Wicks will play Hayes to something close to a draw. That Houston frontcourt duo of Moses and Hakeem is super tough, but people still underestimate how good Walton truly was in 1977 and ’78 – at both ends of the floor. This series will go the distance and the Blazers just have the edge in my opinion. Besides, you know what happens when TMac plays significant minutes in a playoff series right?
Eastern Conference Bracket:
Western Conference Bracket: