Building a Champion: 5 Players to Start Your NBA Franchise

‘If you were starting a new NBA franchise today, who would be your first selection in each position?’

It’s a regular debate conducted between NBA fans across the globe.

Obviously, these days most players have the ability to slide through a number of different positions. Interior players in the modern game, for example, are usually PF/Cs rather than strictly one or the other.  Versatility is highly valued and, for some coaches, is starting to become a prerequisite.

With that in mind, here is my top selection for each position.

 Center – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)

Despite playing the majority of his minutes at power forward, AD is the best selection at the center position for your new franchise. In fact, he’s the best player to start your franchise with, period!

In only his third pro season, Davis has logged new career highs in all the major statistical categories. He’s currently averaging 24.6pts, 10.4reb, 2ast, 3blk and 1.4stl at an alarming 31.14 PER.

Earlier this month, Greg Price of the International Business Times wrote that before Davis missed seven games between February and March (and only played nine minutes against Miami on Feb 21), AD was on pace to eclipse Wilt’s all-time PER record of 31.82, set in 1963.

The attraction of The Brow’s game is his ability to contribute at both ends of the floor and in such a variety of ways. A big man that can blow by defenders off the dribble, play above the rim, stick the open jumper, defend pick-and-roll situations, play the passing lanes and has great timing when protecting the rim is, quite obviously, a coach’s fantasy! No one in their right mind would have ever expected to actually coach such a talent.   Monty Williams you lucky son-of-a!

Enjoy it while it lasts though, folks.  At some point Bugs may decide to send this Monstar back to Moron Mountain.

Honourable Mentions: DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond


Power Forward – LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers)

This was perhaps the toughest decision to make of all the positions. Ultimately, my decision came down to Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and LA Clippers star Blake Griffin.

Age is a big factor when selecting this team and that’s why my selection of Aldridge, almost four years older than Griffin, is that much more surprising.

Griffin’s athleticism separates him from most power forwards in The Association but he is more than just a one-trick pony.  Blake has shown the ability to develop his game from on year to the next, adding a face-up jump shot last season, for example.  He also does everything right off the court and is one of the most marketable players in the league; something very valuable to your new team’s financial bottom line.

Nonetheless, I’m always wary of the kind of reckless athleticism Griffin often plays with. That style of play often brings injuries and with injuries comes a decrease in athleticism, which is a serious concern if that’s your greatest skill.

LMA on the other hand, much like James Harden, has developed one of the most unstoppable moves in the game. His turn around high-release fade-away is ridiculously hard to contest, something both the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns can vouch for.

With averages of 23.6pts, 10.4reb and 1blk as well as an ability to put a team on his back during the playoffs, Aldridge separates himself from Griffin (21.8pts, 7.6reb, 5.2ast and 0.4blk) in my opinion. Even with a few extra years in his legs, I believe LMA’s game can remain as effective as long, or potentially longer, than that of Griffin’s, giving him the nod for my selection in the PF position.

Honourable Mention: Blake Griffin


Small Forward – Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)The 2014 MVP is humble, modest and, most importantly, one hell of a player. He has collected four out of five scoring titles leading into this season and is the embodiment of everything you would hope your franchise to be, both on and off the floor.

In 2014 Durant averaged 32pts, 7.4reb and 5.5ast and became the first player since The Answer to win the MVP and scoring title in the same season. During that season KD strung together a stretch where he logged at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games, which stands as the third longest streak in NBA history!


At 26 years old the 6’9 shooting guard, oh sorry I mean small forward (or is it power forward? Jesus, who knows?) packs the scoring punch of an angry Hulk and creates incredible mismatches for any team having to face him.  This is why he is my number one selection at the three spot.

Honourable Mention: LeBron James


Shooting Guard – James Harden (Houston Rockets)

Quite possibly James Harden is the most unstoppable offensive player in the world! That’s one hell of a statement considering the talent of guys like Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, LeBron, KD, Anthony Davis and others.

James Harden gets you with a Russell Crowe ‘A Beautiful Mind’ like ability to read on-balls, reading his defender like few have done before him. You go under, he pulls up behind the screen. You chase over, he penetrates hard into the lane.  You decide to get up and in and take away his space, he attacks your high foot.  You sag off and he drops a triple in your eye as you lunge forward and send him to the line for the and-1. Even when you play solid D and give him an arm’s distance, a bevy of jabs steps, euro steps and shot fakes will get you biting at some-point and suddenly The Beard has you at a disadvantage.  If you are blessed with exceptional length and manage to stay within reach of Harden attacking the rim, he has also developed an ability to draw fouls and rack up points from the charity stripe at Jerry West-type levels.

Currently averaging 27.2pts, 5.8reb and 7ast, Harden is in strong position to take out this season’s MVP and, at 25 years of age, I can’t think of a better guy to start my franchise with at the shooting guard position.

Honourable Mention: Klay Thompson


Point Guard – Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)Curry is currently averaging truly elite numbers of 23.7pts, 3.4reb, 7.9ast and 2.1stl despite often sitting out the final quarters of GSW ball games. That’s right, Curry has been so influential in orchestrating wins for the Warriors that he can often be seen sitting out final terms, thus making his numbers that much more impressive.

Curry does one thing better than anyone else in the league: shoot the ball.  In the high-paced offense-driven NBA game, that’s won hell of a trait to do better than anyone else on the floor. Curry has developed into what many analysts are already calling one of the greatest shooters of all time, while also growing into his role as the leader of the GSW.

Averaging 8 assists a game, Curry knows how to get his teammates involved and firing on all cylinders. More importantly, he has enough tricks up his sleeve to keep defenders pulling their hair out. From his stop and pop to his deft touch when raining down floaters or scoops, Curry is proving to be one of the most dominant offensive threats in the league. Add to that his newfound desire and effort on the defensive end, his ability to lead and get teammates involved and our decision on our franchise starting PG became a whole lot easier.

Welcome aboard, Steph.

Honourable Mentions: Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Kyrie Irving


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3 Responses

  1. Tim Wall at |

    Great looking team and age does count but I believe it is defensively lacking relying heavily on Davis and LMA to provide most of the defense as Harden despite some improvement is still a terrible defensive player who Houston hide. Certainly AD, KD are walk up starters in any team. An alternative starting five that would likely beat this team in a 7 game series Marc Gasol, Blake Griffen, Lebron James, Klay Thompson and Russel Westbrooke. This team may not last as a contender (although LMA is same boat as James) but would certainly be capable of defeating the above mentioned team for several years based on the defensive capability alone. Offensively and rebounding would also be in line with the mentioned team.

  2. Anonymous at |

    personally i would of chosen Marc Gasol (who is better than both cousins and drummond) and moved the brow to the 4 spot.

  3. Nhorvel at |

    Even LA and NY cant afford these line up.

    And i think some of these players wont be happy to get less than max. (Read Harden)

    Maybe pay AD and KD the max contract then sign JButler, Teague and kenneth faried.

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