By: Travis Thayer (@TheTravisThayer)
I thought it would be fun to take a look at what the NBA could look like if every player was put into a pool, and the teams completely reshaped their rosters. Here is a look at how the first round of a real life fantasy draft could look like:
1. Charlotte Bobcats – SF LeBron James
The number one pick shouldn’t even be a discussion. Yes, there are other guys who haven’t reached their ceiling who are younger than LeBron, but has LeBron even reached his ceiling yet? He is the best player on the planet, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
2. Orlando Magic – SF Kevin Durant
Maybe the most pure scorer the NBA has ever seen. Durant would immediately make the Magic championship contenders. Could you imagine the Eastern Conference Finals involving the Magic and the Bobcats? Instant classic.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – PG Russell Westbrook
The NBA has developed into a point guard league and Westbrook has proven himself as an elite player. His speed, explosiveness, and youth give him the edge over the other number one’s. The Eastern Conference is becoming stacked early on in this draft.
4. Phoenix Suns – PG Kyrie Irving
Cleveland passed on their former player Irving, and the Suns get a very young point guard who is on the verge of super-stardom. Irving’s ability to shoot the three and create off the dribble makes him a highly coveted player in this draft.
5. New Orleans Pelicans – PG Chris Paul
Chris Paul is headed back to his old stomping grounds. Paul is arguably the best floor general in the NBA. Paul’s killer instinct and clutch gene gets him picked here.
6. Sacramento Kings – C Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is somewhat of an enigma, but teams love to have a big man who can control the boards and block shots. When Howard plays to his capabilities, he can be a dominant force.
7. Detroit Pistons – SF Carmelo Anthony
This man can flat out score. Anthony was able to take the scoring title for the first time this year, and the Pistons get a second chance to draft Anthony after draft Darko Millic instead in 2003.
8. Washington Wizards – PG Derrick Rose
When healthy Derrick Rose has shown that he is a premiere player in the NBA. If it weren’t for Rose, LeBron may have five straight MVP’s. That should tell you everything you need to know.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – PF Kevin Love
The T’Wolves are more than happy to keep Kevin Love in Minnesota. He is a 20-15 guy that could be the centerpiece of a championship contender if surrounded by the right supporting cast.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – SG Kobe Bryant
I know what you are thinking. How could Kobe Bryant not be picked already? There is no question that Kobe is a top five player, but he may only have two good years left in that body of his. Kobe may be older and banged up, but something tells me that he’s still got one more good run in him.
11. Philadelphia 76ers – SG Dwyane Wade
If Kobe is the best two guard then Wade is next in line. The two-time NBA champion has battled injuries of his own, but he is still one of the best players in the NBA. The Eastern Conference now has LeBron, Wade, Durant, Carmelo, D-Rose, and Westbrook. Playoff time would be something special.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – SG James Harden
Wouldn’t it be cool to see Harden return to Oklahoma City after being unceremoniously traded to Houston. Harden is still loved in OKC, and he is one of the leagues brightest young stars. P.S. “Fear the Beard”
13. Dallas Mavericks – PF Dirk Nowitzki
Mark Cuban has stated many times that he will never trade Dirk. So, why would he chose anybody else here. Dirk still has a few good years left in his legs, and the Mavs would be hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and hoist a championship banner for a second time.
14. Utah Jazz – C Andrew Bynum
Some consider Andrew Bynum to be the best big man in the NBA. The problem is his knees don’t always cooperate. He is a more polished scorer than Dwight Howard, and he holds his own on defense. I’m not sure I would trust his knees to hold up, but if they do Bynum is worthy of the 14th pick.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – PG Rajon Rondo
If you like triple-doubles, you like Rajon Rondo. He simply does it all. If he ever improves his jump shot he may be damn near unstoppable.
16. Boston Celtics – PF Blake Griffin
Let’s just say Blake Griffin is a little bit different from Kevin McHale or even Kevin Garnett. Griffin lives above the rim, and he is one of the leagues more exciting players. He’ll get you 20 and 10 every night while providing a few highlights in the process.
17. Atlanta Hawks – PF LaMarcus Aldridge
If you haven’t seen LaMarcus Aldridge play you can’t consider yourself a fan of the NBA. Aldridge is as smooth as they come. He can stretch the floor as well as play with his back to the basket.
18. Brooklyn Nets – PG Deron Williams
Deron Williams has been one of the better point guards in the league for quite some time now. His ability to shoot and get to the basket makes him very tough to guard. He is also one of the bigger guards in the league who can take smaller defenders down low to create easier shots.
19. Indiana Pacers – PG Stephen Curry
The purest shooter in the NBA. Any team would be lucky to start over with Curry as the face of the franchise. I think Indiana knows a thing or two about guys who can shoot the three ball.
20. New York Knicks – PF Josh Smith
Josh Smith is an athletic freak of nature. He has great defensive abilities that allows him to block shots and rebound. If Smith ever develops some consistency with his outside shot, he will be one scary player.
21. Los Angeles Clippers – SF Paul George
Quite possibly the fastest rising star in the league. George’s length and athleticism allows for him to be disruptive on both the offensive and defensive end. He’s gotten so good so fast, that the Indiana Pacers have flat out given up on Danny Granger. The Clips get a good one here.
22. Denver Nuggets – PG Tony Parker
The only reason Parker is selected in front of Tim Duncan is because of age and position. Parker is arguably the most underrated point guard in the entire league and he has proven time after time that he can hit the big shot in the biggest moments.
23. San Antonio Spurs – PF Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan is the best power forward of all-time. On to the next pick.
24. Golden State Warriors – PF Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh may be third on the totem pole in Miami, but relocation to the Bay Area makes Bosh the number one option. He did it before in Toronto and he could do it again elsewhere.
25. Chicago Bulls – PF Zach Randolph
Is there a more physical player in the NBA? My guess is no, and Randolph is the type of player Chicago loves to have. Big, physical, and tough with a knack for getting offensive rebounds and put backs.
26. Houston Rockets – C Marc Gasol
Randolph’s running mate in Memphis and reigning defensive player of the year goes next as he is the best big man left on the board. Gasol has really developed his game the past few years, and some consider him the best big in the league.
27. Memphis Grizzles – C DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins would be a bit of a risk as a first rounder because of his unpredictable personality. There is no question about his skill level though, and if he learns to control his emotions he could be a force in the NBA.
28. Toronto Raptors – PF Anthony Davis
Fresh off a great rookie year, Davis is primed to have a tremendous NBA career. Davis is long and athletic, and is an incredible shot blocker. He will only continue to get better as his offensive game grows.
29. Los Angeles Lakers – PG Damian Lillard
The 2013 Rookie of the Year and a future star. Lillard is the type of guard who can take over a game because of his offensive ability. He is lightning quick and can shoot from the outside, which makes him a dangerous player.
30. Miami Heat – PG John Wall
When John Wall was drafted, he was supposed to be the next Derrick Rose. He has yet to reach his potential, but he started to show signs this past season. He is an electric player, and if he figures the game out he will be a superstar.
Who would you like to see on your favorite team? Feel free to comment below or on my Twitter page. (@TheTravisThayer)