We have reached the dog days of NBA offseason. The draft, free agency and summer league have all concluded. There is international basketball and the Dallas Mavericks happen to employ one of the best international players in history, so there is something for Mavericks fans to follow. But this is a good time for thought experiments to see how different people would ideally build teams.
The rules of this draft are simple. There are six rounds, with three contributors drafting one player each round. Once a player is drafted, he cannot be selected again. The draft follows a snake format. The goal is to create the best lineup for next season and explain why it would be the best lineup for next season. Here are the results:
With the first selection in the first round, David Trink selects Nikola Jokic. Ben Zajdel then selects Giannis Antetokounmpo. Matthew Phillips finished it up with the Mavericks’ very own Luka Doncic. Everyone gets an A for this round.
Matthew follows up the Doncic selection, with Kevin Durant creating an incredibly dynamic duo. Ben follows up with a solid all around selection with Jayson Tatum. David finishes the found off by creating perhaps the most terrifying offensive duo imaginable with Stephen Curry. Matthew and David get A’s, Ben gets a A- but only for leaving Curry on the board for David.
David begins the third round by grabbing one of the most impactful defenders in the world to pair with this offensive juggernaut in Anthony Davis. Ben states that father time is now infinity and one as he selects Lebron James. Matthew takes the steal of the draft as the reigning most valuable player should not be the ninth player off the board with Joel Embiid. All three drafters get Fs as this is perhaps the least fun round in the history of fantasy drafts.
Matthew begins the fourth round by completing one of Lebron’s life goals by pairing a father and son combination on the same team. Devin Booker and Doncic create a dynamic back court to go with the front court of Durant and Embiid. Ben makes the first fun choice in two rounds and selects Jimmy Butler. David completely ignores the commit to defense he made in the previous round by drafting Damian Lillard to pair with Stephen Curry in the backcourt. The degree to which the floor is spaced around Jokic and the offensive possibilities are stunning though. Everyone gets a A for making this a more fun round.
David completes his starting lineup by drafting Kawhi Leonard. Perhaps no player in the history of the league gains more value in a theoretical scenario rather than a real one. Ben selects Shai Gilgeous-Alexander creating a very large starting lineup. Matthew selects the most impactful defender in the league in Bam Adebayo. David gets an A- as Leonard’s injury issues do offer the ability to doubt his team, Matthew and Ben get A’s.
Matthew completes his draft by selecting Jaylen Brown to come off the bench. Brown is a versatile do everything player to finish things out. Ben selects playoff hero Jamal Murray. David completes the draft by selecting Donovan Mitchell in the role of classic sixth man microwave scorer. Matthew and Ben get A’s for rounding out their teams well. David gets an B+ as there were players who better compliment Curry and Lillard.
David: G Curry, G Lillard, F Leonard, F Davis, C Jokic, G Mitchell
Ben: G Gilgeous-Alexander, G Butler, F Tatum, F James, C Antetokounmpo, G Murray
Matthew: G Doncic, G Booker, F Durant, F Adebayo, C Embiid, G Brown
Each player gets to sum up their expected playstyle and why they think their team should win. Here are their arguments:
David: My team is an offensive juggernaut. You can run any set ever imagined with the guys I drafted but the bread and butter of this team is going to Jokic on a short roll with Davis in the dunker spot and Curry and Leonard spacing out wide, leaving a downhill Lillard with unlimited possibilities. From there, if Jokic gets the ball he’ll have enough space to score one on one. If he gets bored, pin-downs will be set for Curry and the other team will start begging for mercy.
Defensively, Davis and Leonard will anchor and the other three players can help by being great team defenders. Curry and Lillard’s range and non-stop movement will also serve as a form of defense. Mitchell provides a flamethrower off of the bench to keep the offense coming when Lillard and Curry need a break. Ben’s team simply does not have the youth or offense to keep up with my team and will have LeBron James hunted on defense. Matthew’s team has a similar issue in that Doncic and Booker cannot keep up with Lillard and Curry all game. Since this is hypothetical, I only have to beat those two teams to win the championship and not play a full season, which would be troublesome for my glass forwards. I am ecstatic to receive the Larry O’Brien for this draft.
Ben: I like big teams that defend and that’s what I went with today. I’m a little concerned about the shooting on my team, but we’re going to be a nightmare for teams trying to get a bucket on us. LeBron is going to be my de facto point guard, though Gilgeous-Alexander can also perform in that role. With Giannis, LeBron, and Tatum in my front court, and Butler as my off guard, getting to the basket is going to be near impossible. Opponents will have to catch fire from three to beat us, and I trust the players on my team to produce just enough offense to pull out wins.
Matthew: My team is huge. The sheer size of this lineup would be something to behold. Embiid’s size will allow him to help at the rim, while Adebayo will just generally be a menace all over the court. Doncic is in the best shape of his life, which when coupled with a lessened offensive requirement should allow him to play the best defense of his career and leave this team without a defensive liability. On the offensive end, this team is going to absolutely punish people. Ben’s team is relying on a man who is approximately 157 years old as his primary true creator despite the ability to pick whomever he wanted.
Curry and Lillard will be destroyed guarding Doncic and Booker in the post. If they utilize Davis to help, Durant and Embiid provide great spacing for their size and the team has the ability to downsize by shifting Durant to power forward and Brown to small forward. This team is just so incredibly versatile. Doncic and Durant might be the most perfect pick and roll combination possible in an all time draft. Everyone can screen for Doncic and everyone can shoot.
This team has the best combination of size, defense, creation and shooting. This team also has Durant as the only recent injury issue. If they have to go without Durant for a while, starting Brown at small forward makes a lot of sense as well. Overall, this is the best team, and it came from the last pick.
Who do you think would win?