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 the NBA off-season we have been debating which franchise can construct the greatest starting five (plus one) of all time and you, the readers, have been determining 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 with the victors progressing to the next round.
Boston and Philadelphia have already advanced to the Conference Finals in the East and today we conduct the Western Conference Semi Finals with Los Angeles vs Utah and Houston vs San Antonio.
Los Angeles Lakers (Greer)
PG – Magic Johnson (1986/87)
SG – Kobe Bryant (2005/06)
SF – Elgin Baylor (1960/61)
PF – James Worthy (1983/84)
C – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975/76)
6th Man – Take your pick (Chamberlain, Mikan, West, Shaq, Pau, etc…)
Vs Utah: Liam will attempt to make a big song and dance about the quality of this Utah outfit and the fact that in a five-player format they may very well cause an upset. However, if you can, try to block out that Jazz because it’s simply off beat.
My ‘Showtime’ Lakers , on the other hand, know how to put on a performance that will have everyone clapping in time.
John Stockton, although ranking as one of the best PGs of all time, has found himself matched up against the uncontested BEST PG of all time in Magic Johnson, who will no doubt take him directly to the block for a lesson in punishing the mismatch.
The second major advantage the Lake Show will boast is in the frontcourt. As we head towards the pointy end of this tournament every squad will be putting forth some freakishly impressive units. Unfortunately, with that in mind, the frontcourt of Malone and Eaton is barely a pass mark. The battle of Malone Vs Worthy will be one of power vs speed. These are the situations Worthy thrived in; facing up larger, slower big men and running rings around them. That, combined with his proven championship winning qualities (cheap shot! Sorry Mailman), should give Worthy the edge.
This should already be enough to consolidate the win, but just for good measure Pistol Pete is coming up against possibly the second best SG of all time, behind the GOAT while Dantley and Baylor will likely play each other to a wash.
The Utah Jazz have done well to advance through the first round and against many other opponents may well have managed to advance further. But not against the purple and gold…. the Lake Show keeps on rolling.
Utah Jazz (Santamaria)
PG – John Stockton (any year from 1988 to 1997)
SG – ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich (1976-77)
SF – Adrian Dantley (1983-84)
PF – Karl Malone (1996-97)
C – Mark Eaton (1984-85)
Coach – Jerry Sloan (1971-72)
Vs Los Angeles: Let’s get one thing straight from the outset; if the Jazz win here it’ll be one of the biggest boil-overs ever in professional sports.
Bring it on!
If this bracket involved full rosters of 10 or 12 the Jazz simply couldn’t compete with the big-market franchises of Boston, LA and Philly. But this Utah starting 5 is as tough as they come.
The point guard battle between Dream Team teammates Magic and Stockton – possibly the best and second-best PGs of all time – will be enthralling. As you play it out in your mind, keep in mind that Stockton is the NBA’s all-time leader in both assists and steals (both by considerable margins) and he never, ever took a backward step to anybody. Magic may get the edge here, but he will do so by the length of a bee’s you-know-what.
Kobe was in full-throttle score mode in 2005/06 and will certainly get the better of Pistol Pete at the 2-spot. However, don’t fully nod off on Maravich as the the sleepy-eyed guard was doing some scoring of his own in ’77, leading the league with 31 points a game.
The power forward contest goes to Malone, no bones about it. The Mailman, a two-time league MVP and 2nd all-time in career points, arguably sits inside the top 25 players in all of history. Worthy? Maybe top 50. If you’ve forgotten how dynamic the Stockton/Malone pick and roll was, take a moment to remind yourself.
Eaton blocked 5.56 blocks per game and was Defensive Player of the Year in ’85. He’ll get beaten by Kareem down low, but he’ll block anything that’s not a skyhook. He’ll also dunk on Kareem without jumping:
In this format the Jazz are going to push LA right to the brink. What chance a 2nd round upset loss for the over-confident Lakers?
Houston Rockets (Greer)
PG – Steve Francis (2001/02)
SG – Tracy McGrady (2004/05)
SF – Elvin Hayes (1971/72)
PF – Moses Malone (1981/82)
C – Hakeem Olajuwon (1989/90)
Coach – Rudy Tomjonavich (1993/94)
Vs San Antonio: This tournament is based on performances from one specific season, making this matchup tighter than an indi kid’s jeans.
Tony Parker, although having a clearly better career than Stevie Franchise, never posted numbers like 21/7/6. A similar case can be made for Tracy McGrady who will forever be remembered for failing to lead a franchise out of the first round, even though his performances during those playoffs were outstanding.
Manu (2007/08) and McGrady (2004/05) both finished their selected seasons in the All NBA Third Team; Manu as a 6th man and McGrady for leading the Rockets with averages of 26/6/6, a far cry from anything Manu achieved statistically. While Hayes is in serious trouble against the Iceman George Gervin, the Malone vs Duncan matchup will be seriously close but the edge has to go to TD.
The C position is the one undisputed matchup in this contest, The Dream will tear Robinson apart with an array of up fakes, pivots and spin moves leaving The Admiral looking like nothing more than a second rate center.
San Antonio Spurs (Greer)
PG – Tony Parker (2008/09)
SG – Manu Ginobili (2007/08)
SF – George Gervin (1979/80)
PF – Tim Duncan (2001/02)
C – David Robinson (1993/94)
Coach – Gregg Popovich
Vs Houston: The argument for San Antonio here is simple: do you want to back a bunch of individuals or a team of winners? Over the last 15 years the Spurs have won 5 titles and won over 52 games every single season bar one (the lockout year).
In the frontcourt, Hakeem will have his way with Mr. Robinson but Gervin will give Hayes nightmares offensively and the best power forward of all time, Timmy Duncan, will have the edge over Moses.The decision, in the end, rests on whether you think Parker and Ginobli can outplay the athletic but ring-less, Francis and T-Mac. Before you decide, think on this: winners enter the Hall of Fame, winners get remembered and winners find a way to win playoff matchups like this.
Who wins these Lakers vs Jazz and Rockets vs Spurs second-round match-ups? Cast your votes in the comment section below, on Twitter (@downtownball) or on Facebook and stay tuned for the Eestern Conference Finals up next.