The Draft Slot NBA

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The NBA might be the greatest "What if?" sports league on the planet. What if the Blazers had picked MJ over Bowie? What if David Stern didn't veto the CP3 trade? What if the cap spike of 2016 was distributed over several seasons? What if Bill Walton's feet hadn't been made of glass? What if Shaq and Kobe had figured out how to coexist? What if OKC didn't foolishly trade Harden? What if Tim Duncan had signed with Orlando?

These are just a few of the MANY examples, any one of which would have had massive downstream effects and changed league history in very fundamental ways. Today, I'm going to exercise my own NBA "What if?" freedom by concocting an even crazier scenario. The NBA expanded for the most recent (and final?) time in 2004, adding the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) to bring the total to 30 franchises. There have been fifteen drafts since the expansion, meaning there have now been enough first-round picks to fill every roster in the league.

So here's the hypothetical premise: what if, instead of being drafted to a specific franchise, each first round pick since 2004 was instead simply assigned to a team made up of players drafted in the same draft slot? What would those teams look like, and how would they fare if they competed against one another?

Obviously, this is all a silly flight of fancy and it's going to be pretty subjective, but even so, it's probably a good idea to establish some ground rules:

1. Again, first round picks only. I know this leaves out a ton of excellent NBA players. Whatever. My game, my rules. Sorry, Draymond, DJ, Middleton, Jokic, and others -- you aren't part of my imaginary league.

2. The numbers listed below are career figures, and obviously the different players on each squad are at different phases of their respective careers, or retired/out of the league altogether. Therefore, when making rotation decisions, I am essentially considering the "peak" version or vintage of the player. Yes, this is unfair to rookies and other young guys, since there is almost certainly going to be a better version of them which has yet to emerge. However, we can only go on the information we have presently, and said information is inherently asymmetrical.

3. I have done my best to create positionally coherent rotations, but it is not always possible. Fit is taken into account in breaking down how competitive each team would be.

The players on each roster are listed below in order of Win Shares per 48 Minutes to create some sort of organizing principle. After that I will select my preferred rotation, provide some analysis, and then power rank each squad from 1 to 30 -- including the delta between the ranking and what we would expect.

Without further ado, I give you the Draft Slot NBA, starting with our plucky underdogs at no. 30.

[Massive thanks to and their Draft Finder tool for making this dumb exercise possible.]

TEAM 30:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2011CHIJimmy ButlerF-G47932.916.
2015GSWKevon LooneyF-C15012.
2005NYKDavid LeeF82929.313.
2014SASKyle AndersonF-G28018.
2016GSWDamian JonesF-C4911.
2012GSWFestus EzeliC17014.
2017UTAJosh HartG8723.
2006PORJoel FreelandF-C15112.
2018ATLOmari SpellmanF2218.
2008BOSJ.R. GiddensG386.
2010WASLazar HaywardF728.
2009CLEChristian EyengaF5120.
2013PHONemanja NedovicG245.
2007PHIPetteri KoponenG

C: Kevon Looney
F: David Lee
F: Kyle Anderson
G: Jimmy Butler
G: Josh Hart

C: Festus Ezeli
F: Damion Jones
F: Omari Spellman
F: Joel Freeland

Hey, not a bad start! Considering what we would expect from the no. 30 slot, a team featuring two All-Stars (Butler and Lee) and several other very solid role players would do surprisingly well. The guard rotation would be a legitimate problem, but they could always use Slo Mo as a nominal point guard, and it's not as though Jimmy Butler isn't used to playing heavy minutes. A pleasantly competitive roster.

[Note: Team 30 only has 14 players because Minnesota forfeited its first round pick in 2004 due to salary cap violations. Life is unfair for the little guy. You have no idea how badly I wanted to make a "KAAAAAAAHHHNNN!!!" joke about this, but alas, David Kahn didn't become the Wolves' GM until 2009. Things are tough all around.]

Power Rank: 16 (+14)

TEAM 29:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2011SASCory JosephG47021.
2010ORLDaniel OrtonC-F5110.
2008DETD.J. WhiteF13815.
2005MIAWayne SimienF519.
2009LALToney DouglasG39419.
2016SASDejounte MurrayG11917.
2004INDDavid HarrisonC18914.
2015BRKChris McCulloughF599.
2007PHOAlando TuckerF518.
2017SASDerrick WhiteG3314.
2014OKCJosh HuestisF7614.
2013OKCArchie GoodwinG16514.
2006NYKMardy CollinsG18914.
2012CHIMarquis TeagueG9110.
2018BRKDzanan MusaG-F73.

C: David Harrison
F: DJ White
G: Derrick White
G: Dejounte Murray
G: Cory Joseph

G: Toney Douglas
F: Wayne Simien
C: Daniel Orton
F: Chris McCullough
F: Dzanan Musa

Woof. There's no way to polish the turd -- this team would be atrocious. Outside of the triumvirate of competent guards selected by San Antonio (you're going to see a lot of Spurs' players in the early going, for obvious reasons), there is just nothing to work with here. Let's move on.

Power Rank: 30 (-1)

TEAM 28:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2007SASTiago SplitterF-C35519.
2005SASIan MahinmiC55916.
2004SASBeno UdrihG83121.
2016PHOSkal LabissiereF10018.
2010MEMGreivis VasquezG40123.
2009MINWayne EllingtonG60821.
2012OKCPerry JonesF14311.
2015BOSR.J. HunterG448.
2017LALTony BradleyF-C93.
2011CHINorris ColeG36022.
2008MEMDonte GreeneF25316.
2014LACC.J. WilcoxG665.
2006DALMaurice AgerG826.
2018GSWJacob EvansG-F174.
2013SASLivio Jean-CharlesF

C: Ian Mahinmi
F: Tiago Splitter
G/F: Wayne Ellington
G: Greivis Vasquez
G: Beno Udrih

F: Skal Labissiere
G: Norris Cole
F: Perry Jones
F: Tony Bradley

OK, that's a little better. There is at least something resembling a functional NBA roster here. Udrih was an underrated playmaker, the frountcourt would battle, and Ellington, while obviously miscast as a primary scorer, gives them someone who can shoot and put the ball in the hoop with some consistency. It would be an uphill climb, but they would stick it to Team 29, if nothing else.

Power Rank: 29 (-1)

TEAM 27:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2018BOSRobert WilliamsF93.
2013DENRudy GobertC35028.310.410.
2016TORPascal SiakamF16220.
2015LALLarry Nance Jr.F-C21421.
2012MIAArnett MoultrieF5912.
2009MEMDeMarre CarrollF50223.
2004LALSasha VujacicG58115.
2005PORLinas KleizaF40920.
2017BRKKyle KuzmaF10131.
2007DETArron AfflaloG76227.310.
2014PHOBogdan BogdanovicG9027.612.
2008NOHDarrell ArthurF50317.
2010NJNJordan CrawfordG28124.412.
2006PHOSergio RodriguezG35315.
2011NJNJaJuan JohnsonF368.

C: Rudy Gobert
F: Pascal Siakam
F: DeMarre Carroll
G: Arron Afflalo
G: Bogdan Bogdanovic

F: Kyle Kuzma
F/C: Larry Nance, Jr.
G: Sasha Vujacic
F: Linas Kleiza
G: Jordan Crawford
F: Darrell Arthur

Look at that frontcourt depth! Ball handling and playmaking would for sure be a struggle, but this squad has a lot of smart, rugged dudes who would make more talented teams work for it, and if all else failed, they'd still have the Stifle Tower waiting at the rim. Color me intrigued.

Power Rank: 15 (+12)

TEAM 26:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2008SASGeorge HillG67928.711.
2004SACKevin MartinG71430.
2009CHITaj GibsonF69226.
2013MINAndre RobersonG-F29522.
2012INDMiles PlumleeC-F34416.
2005DETJason MaxiellF61818.
2018PHILandry ShametG2621.
2010OKCQuincy PondexterG-F32216.
2016PHIFurkan KorkmazG329.
2007HOUAaron BrooksG64520.
2011DALJordan HamiltonG-F15113.
2006LALJordan FarmarG50419.
2014MIAP.J. HairstonG-F11118.
2017PORCaleb SwaniganF377.
2015SASNikola MilutinovC

C/F: Jason Maxiell
F: Taj Gibson
F: Andre Roberson
G: Kevin Martin
G: George Hill

G: Aaron Brooks
G: Jordan Farmar
C: Miles Plumlee
F: Quincy Pondexter
G: Landry Shamet

Team Role Player. Martin would naturally be the lead dog on offense for this star-less squad, but they would overcome their lack of size and frontline talent with tenacious, on-a-string defense and solid professionalism. They wouldn't win a lot, but they would force the upper echelon teams to bring a real effort or potentially get embarrassed.

Power Rank: 22 (+4)

TEAM 25:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2014HOUClint CapelaC25123.711.
2008HOUNicolas BatumF-G71631.612.
2004BOSTony AllenG-F82022.
2013LACReggie BullockG-F22717.
2009OKCRodrigue BeauboisG18215.
2016LACBrice JohnsonF215.
2006CLEShannon BrownG40818.
2011BOSMarShon BrooksG-F19117.
2015MEMJarell MartinF15617.
2005SEAJohan PetroC47315.
2010MEMDominique JonesG809.
2007UTAMorris AlmondG389.
2018LALMoritz WagnerF-C44.
2012MEMTony WrotenG14521.
2017ORLAnzejs PasecniksC

C: Clint Capela
F: Nicolas Batum
F: Reggie Bullock
G: Tony Allen
G: Roddy Beaubois

G: Shannon Brown
F: Jarell Martin
G: MarShon Brooks
C: Johan Petro
G: Tony Wroten

Team 25 would have a tough time handling size and a really tough time getting buckets consistently, so it's hard to see them having much success. Capela/Allen/young Batum would make it a grind for opposing offenses, but this team would struggle.

Power Rank: 26 (-1)

TEAM 24:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2017UTATyler LydonF83.
2006MEMKyle LowryG81631.
2008SEASerge IbakaF-C70428.812.
2007PHORudy FernandezG24924.
2011OKCReggie JacksonG47024.912.
2004BOSDelonte WestG43227.
2005HOULuther HeadG34822.
2015CLETyus JonesG20316.
2013NYKTim HardawayG36225.612.
2014CHHShabazz NapierG25515.
2016PHITimothe LuwawuF13515.
2012CLEJared CunninghamG847.
2009DALByron MullensC18918.
2018PORAnfernee SimonsG56.
2010ATLDamion JamesG-F3916.

C: Serge Ibaka
F: Tim Hardaway, Jr.
G: Rudy Fernandez
G: Reggie Jackson
G: Kyle Lowry

G: Delonte West
G: Tyus Jones
G: Shabazz Napier
G: Luther Head
F: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot

Obviously this team would be WAY too guard-heavy, but the overall talent is pretty decent. Despite being far too reliant on Ibaka for rim protection and rebounding, they would be able to stay in games by turning it into a track meet and trying to outscore more talented opponents. A fun fake League Pass team.

Power Rank: 14 (+10)

TEAM 23:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2011HOUNikola MiroticF29524.312.
2016BOSAnte ZizicF-C497.
2008UTAKosta KoufosC65316.
2010MINTrevor BookerF53220.
2006NJNJosh BooneF-C25617.
2014UTARodney HoodG-F27227.613.
2017TOROG AnunobyF9420.
2018INDAaron HolidayG1411.
2015PORRondae Hollis-JeffersonF19724.410.
2009SACOmri CasspiF56920.
2005SACFrancisco GarciaF-G54921.
2012ATLJohn JenkinsG14512.
2007NYKWilson ChandlerF60431.
2013INDSolomon HillF27523.
2004PORSergei MoniaF2613.

C: Kosta Koufos
F: Nikola Mirotic
F: Wilson Chandler
G: Rodney Hood
G: Aaron Holiday

F: Trevor Booker
F: OG Anunoby
F: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
G: Francisco Garcia
F: Omri Casspi

Another super-lopsided roster. Playmaking would be a major problem with their lack of guard depth. The long, active bench unit could be kind of fun, but beyond Mirotic bombing away with impunity, it's hard to see where consistent scoring would come from on this team.

Power Rank: 20 (+3)

TEAM 22:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2011DENKenneth FariedF44924.611.
2017BRKJarrett AllenF-C9622.
2013BRKMason PlumleeC-F41322.
2007CHAJared DudleyF-G81423.
2015CHIBobby PortisF20319.
2008ORLCourtney LeeG75428.
2005DENJarrett JackG86727.810.
2014MEMJordan AdamsG328.
2004NJNViktor KhryapaF14316.
2010PORElliot WilliamsG10913.
2012BOSFab MeloC66.
2018CHIChandler HutchisonG2118.
2009PORVictor ClaverF8013.
2016CHOMalachi RichardsonG609.
2006NJNMarcus WilliamsG20315.

C: Mason Plumlee
F: Kenneth Faried
F: Jared Dudley
G: Courtney Lee
G: Jarrett Jack

C: Jarrett Allen
F: Bobby Portis
G: Chandler Hutchison
G: Malachi Richardson

Another team of capable role players with nothing to bring them together. Consummate pros Jack and Dudley would maximize the strengths of the group, but there just isn't a whole lot to work with here offensively. Way too many busts on this roster, resulting in a super-young bench which would probably get worked most nights.

Power Rank: 25 (-3)

TEAM 21:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2008NJNRyan AndersonF63726.
2012BOSJared SullingerF26924.310.
2009NOHDarren CollisonG65629.512.
2013UTAGorgui DiengC40123.
2006PHORajon RondoG79031.710.
2014OKCMitch McGaryF-C5210.
2005PHONate RobinsonG61822.511.
2015DALJustin AndersonG17614.
2017OKCTerrance FergusonG-F7814.
2007PHIDaequan CookG32818.
2016ATLDeAndre BembryF8915.
2004UTAPavel PodkolzinC64.
2010OKCCraig BrackinsF177.
2018UTAGrayson AllenG1410.
2011PORNolan SmithG849.

C: Gorgui Dieng
F: Jared Sullinger
F: Ryan Anderson
G: Darren Collison
G: Rajon Rondo

G: Nate Robinson
G: Justin Anderson
G/F: Terrance "Turd" Ferguson
F: DeAndre' Bembry

A moderately intriguing starting lineup that wouldn't be able to stop anyone. Lousy bench. Hard to believe these teams aren't getting much better yet.

Power Rank: 23 (-2)

TEAM 20:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2015TORDelon WrightG14417.
2006NYKRenaldo BalkmanF22113.
2004DENJameer NelsonG87827.911.
2008CHAAlexis AjincaC29313.
2011MINDonatas MotiejunasF-C24818.
2012DENEvan FournierG-F40127.413.
2007MIAJason SmithF-C60816.
2016INDCaris LeVertG-F14224.811.
2013CHITony SnellG-F39122.
2009UTAEric MaynorG26714.
2010SASJames AndersonG-F24717.
2018MINJosh OkogieG1720.
2017PORHarry GilesF-C1810.
2005DENJulius HodgeG234.
2014TORBruno CabocloF356.

C: Donatas Motiejunas
F: Caris LeVert
F: Evan Fournier
G: Delon Wright
G: Jameer Nelson

F: Tony Snell
C: Alexis Ajinca
G: Eric Maynor
G: Josh Okogie
C: Harry Giles
C/F: Jason Smith

A strange team. They would probably have enough scoring to stay competitive, but how the pieces would fit together -- and if they could get any stops -- is anybody's guess. Much like team totem Bruno Caboclo, this squad might forever be two years away from being two years away. Despite not being any good, Renaldo Balkman would end up in the rotation somehow.

Power Rank: 27 (-7)

TEAM 19:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2017ATLJohn CollinsF8424.511.
2009ATLJeff TeagueG68927.712.
2011CHATobias HarrisF48829.914.
2004MIADorell WrightF-G54922.
2005MEMHakim WarrickF52620.
2014CHIGary HarrisG27628.712.
2008CLEJ.J. HicksonF-C53422.
2015WASJerian GrantG23818.
2016DENMalik BeasleyG10811.
2010BOSAvery BradleyG47728.512.
2012ORLAndrew NicholsonF28514.
2013CLESergey KarasevG-F9511.
2018ATLKevin HuerterG2420.
2007LALJavaris CrittentonG11316.
2006SACQuincy DoubyG14310.

C: J.J. Hickson
F: John Collins
F: Tobias Harris
G: Gary Harris
G: Jeff Teague

G: Avery Bradley
F/G: Dorell Wright
G: Malik Beasley
G: Kevin Huerter
F: Hakim Warrick

I can get behind this roster. There would be athleticism up front, along with balanced scoring from behind the arc, off the bounce, and out of the pick-and-roll. The names don't jump off the page, but the rotation would be full of competent pros, and it would probably fit together well. A sleeper to outplay their position. Javaris Crittenton is preemptively banned from their locker room.

Power Rank: 12 (+7)

TEAM 18:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2008WASJaVale McGeeC58217.
2012HOUTerrence JonesF23224.
2009MINTy LawsonG55129.
2010OKCEric BledsoeG51527.813.
2015HOUSam DekkerF16215.
2004NOHJ.R. SmithG-F97127.
2007GSWMarco BelinelliG-F74823.
2005BOSGerald GreenG-F60419.
2017INDT.J. LeafF678.
2013ATLShane LarkinG25619.
2011WASChris SingletonF14817.
2014PHOTyler EnnisG18612.
2006WASOleksiy PecherovC1119.
2016DETHenry EllensonF588.
2018SASLonnie WalkerG

C: JaVale McGee
F: Terrence Jones
G: J.R. Smith
G: Eric Bledsoe
G: Ty Lawson

G/F: Marco Belinelli
G/F: Gerald Green
G: Shane Larkin
F: Sam Dekker

This team would not be good, but it would be unbelievably entertaining to follow them on social media and watch the locker room gradually come apart at the seams. I mean, they legitimately go six deep with knuckleheads. These are the Wizards of Draft Slot NBA, which is appropriate, since the IRL Wizards drafted three of the dudes on this roster. Art imitating life, or something like that.

Power Rank: 28 (-10)

TEAM 17:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2005INDDanny GrangerF58631.516.
2012DALTyler ZellerF-C40617.
2008TORRoy HibbertC66224.810.
2009PHIJrue HolidayG61132.915.
2004ATLJosh SmithF89432.414.
2017MILD.J. WilsonF233.
2007NJNSean WilliamsC-F13714.
2018MILDonte DiVincenzoG1817.
2013ATLDennis SchroderG37524.
2006INDShawne WilliamsF31417.
2011NYKIman ShumpertG40425.
2014BOSJames YoungG-F958.
2010CHIKevin SeraphinF42315.
2016MEMWade BaldwinG4811.
2015MILRashad VaughnG13912.

C: Roy Hibbert
F: Josh Smith
F: Danny Granger
G: Jrue Holiday
G: Dennis Schroder

G: Iman Shumpert
C: Tyler Zeller
G: Donte DiVincenzo
F: Sean/Shawne Williams (is there a difference?)

Shooting would be a real problem, but this team could be FIERCE on defense. Prime Danny Granger was a legit scorer (25.8 ppg in '08-'09), and he would have a much better roster around him (plus verticality enthusiast Roy Hibbert; he's still there). Holiday/Schroder is an interesting backcourt, and J-Smoove would be there to do J-Smoove things (i.e. jack crooked jumpers while doing most everything else pretty well). A little bit of sleeper potential here.

Power Rank: 11 (+6)

TEAM 16:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2013BOSLucas NogueiraC14112.
2017CHIJustin PattonC14.
2011PHINikola VucevicC48129.915.
2008PHIMarreese SpeightsC-F70515.
2016BOSGuerschon YabuseleF456.
2009CHIJames JohnsonF55520.
2014CHIJusuf NurkicC26222.
2015BOSTerry RozierG21619.
2010MINLuke BabbittF38114.
2006CHIRodney CarneyF29915.
2004UTAKirk SnyderG21116.
2005TORJoey GrahamF37716.
2007WASNick YoungG-F71622.911.
2012HOURoyce WhiteF33.
2018PHOZhaire SmithG

C: Jusuf Nurkic
C/F: Nikola Vucevic
F: James Johnson
G: Nick Young
G: Terry Rozier

F: Marreese Speights
F: Luke Babbitt
C: Bebe Nogueira
G: Zhaire Smith, I guess?

Meh. This team is way too big-man heavy and doesn't have a ton of upside. Vooch/Rozier could be a solid PnR combination, and they would bring a level of toughness to the floor (The Bosnian Bear, Bloodsport, and Scary Terry are not nicknames bestowed upon the undeserving). Overall, the talent level just isn't high enough to be more than an irritant, especially compared to what's next. Also, it violates the sacred "Never have more than one Balkan guy on your roster at a time" tenet of NBA team-building.

Power Rank: 19 (-3)

TEAM 15:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2011INDKawhi LeonardF42730.616.
2013MILGiannis AntetokounmpoF-G41532.817.
2004BOSAl JeffersonC-F91528.715.
2008PHORobin LopezC71023.
2016DENJuan HernangomezF11015.
2010MILLarry SandersC-F23819.
2012PHIMaurice HarklessF-G42722.
2018WASTroy BrownG-F126.
2007DETRodney StuckeyG65127.512.
2015ATLKelly OubreF24820.
2009DETAustin DayeF29314.
2017PORJustin JacksonG-F9021.
2005NJNAntoine WrightG-F29719.
2006NOKCedric SimmonsF759.
2014ATLAdreian PayneF-C10713.

C: Robin Lopez
F: Al Jefferson
F: Giannis Antetokounmpo
G: Kawhi Leonard
G: Rodney Stuckey

F: Mo Harkless
G: Kelly Oubre
F: Juancho Hernangomez
C: Larry Sanders

Now we're talking! Sure, I'm fudging the crap out of the positional designations, but whatever. The talent level here is WAY too high for their draft position -- Kawhi tumbling to 15 in the 2011 Draft remains inexplicable even without the hindsight of what he's become -- and it would be a blast to watch this team play. The guard situation is obviously not good -- having a catch-and-shoot type in Stuckey's place would be ideal -- but the playmaking and scoring will naturally be handled by Kawhi and Giannis anyway. Their spacing would be poor, but Professor Jefferson schooling punks in the post as a third option would be fun, and Lopez is the perfect garbageman for this roster. And did I mention they have Kawhi and Giannis?? It's going to be a while before we get a combo close to this potent, so be warned. This team is one of our big risers.

Power Rank: 7 (+8)

TEAM 14:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2017MIABam AdebayoC-F9219.
2006UTARonnie BrewerG-F50223.
2012MILJohn HensonC-F40520.
2010HOUPatrick PattersonF58222.
2004UTAKris HumphriesF-C80017.
2014PHOT.J. WarrenF23827.
2011HOUMarcus MorrisF49226.311.
2013UTAShabazz MuhammadF-G27817.
2008GSWAnthony RandolphF25215.
2016CHIDenzel ValentineG13422.
2015OKCCameron PayneG13616.
2009PHOEarl ClarkF26113.
2005MINRashad McCantsG24920.
2007LACAl ThorntonF29628.
2018DENMichael PorterF

C: Bam Adebayo
F: Marcus Morris
F: T.J. Warren
G: Ronnie Brewer
G: ???

F: John Henson
F: Patrick Patterson
F: Kris Humphries
G: Denzel Valentine

As if to prove my point about what an outlier the previous team was, we get this motley crew of journeymen and busts. There are no true point guards you'd actually want to insert into a game on the roster (sorry not sorry to Cam Payne; he isn't good), and if T.J. Warren and Marcus Morris are your primary scorers, you're gonna have a bad time. Just ugly.

Power Rank: 24 (-10)

TEAM 13:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2010TOREd DavisF58520.
2009INDTyler HansbroughF42816.
2013DALKelly OlynykC-F37621.
2006PHIThabo SefoloshaG-F78923.
2018LACJerome RobinsonG85.
2017DENDonovan MitchellG10033.
2011PHOMarkieff MorrisF54526.411.
2005CHASean MayF11915.
2007NOKJulian WrightF23113.
2008PORBrandon RushG-F48122.
2016PHOGeorgios PapagiannisC3912.
2015PHODevin BookerG22732.520.
2014MINZach LaVineG25429.415.
2004PORSebastian TelfairG56421.
2012PHOKendall MarshallG16019.

C: Kelly Olynyk
F: Markieff Morris
G: Devin Booker
G: Zach LaVine
G: Donovan Mitchell

F: Ed Davis
F: Thabo Sefolosha
G/F: Brandon Rush
G: Bassy Telfair
F: Tyler Hansbrough

The "There's Only One Ball" All-Stars. This team would shoot a metric shit-ton of threes, Ed Davis would set an NBA record for offensive rebounding rate, and Sefolosha would go insane trying to get everyone else to play a lick of defense. They would be a fake League Pass delight, and people who don't know better would be super confused at season's end about why they weren't better.

Power Rank: 14 (-1) 

TEAM 12:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2013OKCSteven AdamsC40925.
2018LACMiles BridgesG-F2320.
2012HOUJeremy LambG-F38019.
2007PHIThaddeus YoungF84430.713.
2015UTATrey LylesF24817.
2017DETLuke KennardG7819.
2014ORLDario SaricF18327.713.
2008SACJason ThompsonF-C58825.
2011UTAAlec BurksG38620.
2009CHAGerald HendersonG53525.911.
2006NOKHilton ArmstrongF-C29211.
2004SEARobert SwiftC9715.
2016UTATaurean PrinceF16225.
2010MEMXavier HenryG18515.
2005LACYaroslav KorolevF344.

C: Steven Adams
F: Dario Saric
F: Thaddeus Young
G: Jeremy Lamb
G: Gerald Henderson

G/F: Miles Bridges
F: Trey Lyles
F: Taurean Prince
C: Jason Thompson
G: Luke Kennard

How is a team of no. 12 draft picks not better than this? There's a ton of competence on this roster, but outside of Steven Adams -- AKA my beloved Dothraki son -- not much more. They would get some buckets and stops by the power of sheer professionalism, and the bench could have some juice, but it's kind of a big 'Meh' for how high we are in the rankings. Pass.

Power Rank: 17 (-5)

TEAM 11:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2010NOHCole AldrichC33910.
2004GSWAndris BiedrinsC51621.
2006ORLJ.J. RedickG78625.512.
2015INDMyles TurnerC-F22927.812.
2011GSWKlay ThompsonG-F56333.
2012PORMeyers LeonardC-F35315.
2016ORLDomantas SabonisF-C17822.
2018CHOShai Gilgeous-AlexanderG2427.610.
2008INDJerryd BaylessG55221.
2014DENDoug McDermottF28820.
2007ATLAcie LawG18812.
2013PHIMichael Carter-WilliamsG30126.611.
2017CHOMalik MonkG8615.
2009NJNTerrence WilliamsF15319.
2005ORLFran Vazquez

C: Andris Biedrins
F: Domantas Sabonis
F: Klay Thompson
G: JJ Redick
G: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

C: Myles Turner
F: Doug McDermott
G: Malik Monk
G: Jerryd Bayless

This team would probably be mediocre, but a few interesting notes:
-Cole Aldrich and Andris Biedrins "leading" the team in WS/48 helps illustrate the potential pitfalls of that particular statistic;
-Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis can't escape each other, even in dumb internet thought exercises;
-This squad might shoot even more threes than Team 13, and would undoubtedly have less internecine squabbling.

Power Rank: 13 (-2)

TEAM 10:

Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2005LALAndrew BynumC41825.611.
2010INDPaul GeorgeF55033.418.
2008NJNBrook LopezC65931.
2013PORCJ McCollumG36529.517.
2009MILBrandon JenningsG55530.314.
2016MILThon MakerF-C14613.
2007SACSpencer HawesC-F68422.
2014PHIElfrid PaytonG30629.411.
2017SACZach CollinsC-F9016.
2006SEAMouhamed SeneC-F475.
2015MIAJustise WinslowF18327.
2011MILJimmer FredetteG23513.
2012NOHAustin RiversG43324.
2018PHIMikal BridgesG2422.
2004CLELuke JacksonF739.

C: Andrew Bynum
F: Brook Lopez
F: Paul George
G: CJ McCollum
G: Brandon Jennings

C: Zach Collins
G: Elfrid Payton
F: Justise Winslow
G/F: Mikal Bridges
G: Austin Rivers
C/F: Spencer Hawes

Deep, versatile, and talented. This team would make it tough for those above them in the pecking order. Their point guard rotation is troublesome, and the bigs would have a difficult time guarding in space, but a Bynum/George/McCollum top three is intriguing. If nothing else, they would score in bunches.

Power Rank: 8 (+2)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2016TORJakob PoeltlC15715.
2007CHIJoakim NoahC62628.
2012DETAndre DrummondC48530.513.813.
2010UTAGordon HaywardF-G53831.
2004PHIAndre IguodalaG-F106433.812.
2009TORDeMar DeRozanG-F70034.
2011CHAKemba WalkerG54734.
2005GSWIke DioguF22512.
2008CHAD.J. AugustinG75123.
2015CHOFrank KaminskyF-C24822.
2014CHHNoah VonlehF25616.
2013MINTrey BurkeG32424.
2006GSWPatrick O'BryantC905.
2018NYKKevin KnoxF1819.
2017DALDennis SmithG8929.414.

C: Joakim Noah
F: Gordon Hayward
F: Andre Iguodala
G: DeMar DeRozan
G: Kemba Walker

C: Andre Drummond
G: D.J. Augustin
C: Jakob Poeltl
F: Frank Kaminsky
F: Noah Vonleh
G: Trey Burke
Projects: Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith, Jr.

Shots fired! This team wouldn't space the floor all that well, but athletically it would be a MONSTER. I had to legitimately stop and think about whether Noah or Drummond would start at center, but '13-'14 Noah was DPOY/1st Team All-Defense/4th in MVP voting, and having yet another playmaker on the floor would make this offense unguardable, so he gets the nod. The depth of playmaking and basketball IQ are remarkable here, and they could easily stagger the minutes of the star wings to keep bench units humming. I REALLY like this team.

Power Rank: 5 (+4)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2007CHABrandan WrightF-C42816.
2009NYKJordan HillC-F40918.
2005NYKChanning FryeC-F86022.
2006HOURudy GayF83134.417.
2013DETKentavious Caldwell-PopeG41230.
2010LACAl-Farouq AminuF61325.
2012TORTerrence RossF-G43623.
2011DETBrandon KnightG38231.315.
2016SACMarquese ChrissF16320.
2008MILJoe AlexanderF6711.
2015DETStanley JohnsonF24022.
2014SACNik StauskasG29120.
2017NYKFrank NtilikinaG10122.
2004TORRafael AraujoC13911.
2018CLECollin SextonG2429.

C: Channing Frye
F: Al-Farouq Aminu
F: Rudy Gay
G: Terrence Ross
G: Brandon Knight

F: Brandan Wright
C: Jordan Hill
G: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
F: Stanley Johnson
G: Frank Ntilikina

Wait, what happened? Is Rudy Gay seriously the best 8th pick of the last fifteen years? How is this possible? I always liked Brandan Wright and thought he got a bum deal, and there's some decent shooting and young talent here, but what the hell? This squad would get absolutely shit-stomped by Team 9. Weird.

Power Rank: 18 (-10)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2009GSWStephen CurryG64034.423.
2010DETGreg MonroeC-F60028.513.
2004PHOLuol DengF88334.615.
2014LALJulius RandleF-C26427.714.
2011SACBismack BiyomboC-F53920.
2018CHIWendell CarterC2526.
2012GSWHarrison BarnesF48230.413.
2005TORCharlie VillanuevaF65620.710.
2008LACEric GordonG58133.
2016DENJamal MurrayG18727.613.
2017MINLauri MarkkanenF-C7029.715.
2006BOSRandy FoyeG75225.610.
2007MINCorey BrewerF-G78323.
2013SACBen McLemoreG35624.
2015DENEmmanuel MudiayG20525.

C: Greg Monroe
F: Julius Randle
F: Luol Deng
G: Jamal Murray
G: Steph Curry

F: Harrison Barnes
G: Eric Gordon
F/C: Lauri Markkanen
C: Wendell Carter
F: Charlie Villanueva
F/G: Corey Brewer

Deeeeep. Team 7 wouldn't stop anyone, but they wouldn't have to. They would be able to score from every level of the floor with endless waves of shooting and playmaking, and their bench would be a legit problem for opposing teams. And oh yeah, they also have that Curry guy you may have heard something about. Fake League Pass darlings.

Power Rank: 6 (+1)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2012PORDamian LillardG49336.423.
2006MINBrandon RoyG32635.518.
2008NYKDanilo GallinariF50431.
2018ORLMohamed BambaC2516.
2004ATLJosh ChildressG-F39126.
2013NOHNerlens NoelC-F24524.
2015SACWillie Cauley-SteinF-C23723.
2005PORMartell WebsterG-F58024.
2010GSWEkpe UdohC-F34915.
2011WASJan VeselyF16215.
2014BOSMarcus SmartG28428.
2016NOPBuddy HieldG18525.
2017ORLJonathan IsaacF4621.
2007MILYi JianlianF27222.
2009MINJonny FlynnG16322.

C: Willie Cauley-Stein
F: Danilo Gallinari
F: Josh Childress
G: Brandon Roy
G: Damian Lillard

G: Marcus Smart
G: Buddy Hield
F: Martell Webster
C: Mo Bamba
F: Jonathan Isaac

I expected a little better here, but the Roy/Lillard backcourt would be nasty. The frontcourt is weak, and the bench will look a lot better three years from now, but c'est la vie. The roster fits together decently well, so maybe the whole would be greater than the sum of the parts, but still kind of disappointing.

Power Rank: 9 (-3)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2008MEMKevin LoveF63932.218.311.
2011TORJonas ValanciunasC46625.
2010SACDeMarcus CousinsC-F53532.321.511.
2004WASDevin HarrisG93024.811.
2009MINRicky RubioG45531.
2013PHOAlex LenC35819.
2006ATLShelden WilliamsF36115.
2007BOSJeff GreenF80630.
2005CHARaymond FeltonG95130.
2012SACThomas RobinsonF31313.
2014UTADante ExumG18619.
2015ORLMario HezonjaF-G24218.
2016MINKris DunnG13122.
2017SACDe'Aaron FoxG9628.912.
2018DALTrae YoungG2529.

C: DeMarcus Cousins
F: Kevin Love
F: Jeff Green (can't believe I'm typing that)
G: Devin Harris
G: De'Aaron Fox

G: Ricky Rubio
C: Jonas Valanciunas
G: Ray Felton, non-fat edition
F: Thomas Robinson, I guess?
G: Trae Young

This team starts out so full of promise. At first glance, you say, "Sweet, Boogie and Love -- great start. They're gonna be dope." Then, as you peruse the remainder of the roster, your reaction changes to "Wait, whaaaaat?"  The guards are kind of interchangeable; I chose how I did because Harris has had a better career than most realize and was an All-Star that one time (21.3/3.3/6.9 in '08-'09), and I'm a prisoner of the moment and have really liked what I've seen out of Fox so far this season. The wing depth is non-existent, and any semi-regular reader of mine knows I refuse to put any faith in a team relying heavily on Jeff Green. Besides budding star Fox and whatever Trae Young might one day become, this pick has been a weird sinkhole since about 2012, and it drastically lowers the ceiling of our theoretical team.

Power Rank: 10 (-5)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2005NOHChris PaulG91035.318.
2008SEARussell WestbrookG76334.323.
2018MEMJaren JacksonF2325.513.
2013CHACody ZellerC-F33522.
2007MEMMike ConleyG74132.614.
2011CLETristan ThompsonF-C54328.
2015NYKKristaps PorzingisF-C18631.
2014ORLAaron GordonF28626.611.
2004LACShaun LivingstonG78621.
2006PORTyrus ThomasF40219.
2009SACTyreke EvansG-F54831.616.
2010MINWesley JohnsonF-G59122.
2012CLEDion WaitersG36528.713.
2017PHOJosh JacksonF-G10124.
2016PHODragan BenderF13320.

C: Kristaps Porzingis
F: Jaren Jackson, Jr.
F: Aaron Gordon
G: Russell Westbrook
G: Chris Paul

G: Mike Conley
C: Tristan Thompson
C: Cody Zeller
G/F: Tyreke Evans
G: Shaun Livingston

There we go. This feels more like the kind of team we should be seeing this close to the end-game. The wing depth is still an issue -- besides Team 9, where are all the good wings? -- but you can't argue with those guards, combined with two unicorns in the starting lineup and two more dependable, mistake-free bigs off the bench. This would be a tough team to beat.

Power Rank: 4 (--)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2009OKCJames HardenG70733.923.
2007ATLAl HorfordC-F73933.
2014PHIJoel EmbiidC12029.923.
2011UTAEnes KanterC54122.
2010NJNDerrick FavorsF-C58025.911.
2017BOSJayson TatumF10330.714.
2013WASOtto PorterF36626.710.
2005UTADeron WilliamsG84534.
2012WASBradley BealG43134.
2004CHIBen GordonG74427.414.
2016BOSJaylen BrownF-G16724.
2018ATLLuka DoncicG-F2232.618.
2008MINO.J. MayoG54730.913.
2015PHIJahlil OkaforC-F14322.
2006CHAAdam MorrisonF16120.

C: Joel Embiid
F: Al Horford
F: Jayson Tatum
G: James Harden
G: Deron Williams

G: Bradley Beal
F: Otto Porter
G/F: Luka Doncic
C: Enes Kanter
G: Ben Gordon
G/F: Jaylen Brown

Sweet Jesus, this team COOKS. Five All-Stars, plus at least two more guys (Tatum and Doncic) who will inevitably get there before long. Chicago Ben Gordon was better than you remember, and we used to earnestly debate if Deron Williams was better than Chris Paul. This team is freaking stacked. They would do absolutely everything at an elite level, and no players would ever deserve their "Did Not Dress" designations in the box score more than OJ Mayo, Jah Okafor, and Adam Morrison. They even excel at unintentionally hilarious benchwarmers.

Power Rank: 1 (+2)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2007SEAKevin DurantF-G79737.
2006CHILaMarcus AldridgeF-C89434.619.
2004CHAEmeka OkaforC-F61630.912.
2005ATLMarvin WilliamsF96228.610.
2009MEMHasheem ThabeetC22410.
2012CHAMichael Kidd-GilchristF37526.
2013ORLVictor OladipoG38233.317.
2018SACMarvin BagleyF2124.
2011MINDerrick WilliamsF42820.
2014MILJabari ParkerF20830.915.
2017LALLonzo BallG7632.
2008MIAMichael BeasleyF59223.
2010PHIEvan TurnerG63627.810.
2016LALBrandon IngramF15830.812.
2015LALD'Angelo RussellG21727.915.

C: Emeka Okafor
F: LaMarcus Aldridge
F: Kevin Durant
G: Victor Oladipo
G: Lonzo Ball

F: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
F: Marvin Williams
G: Evan Turner
F: Brandon Ingram
F: Marvin Bagley
F Jabari Parker

Here's an incredible thought: when you take every no.2 pick for the last 15 years, and cull the very best version of each of those guys, you still get a team which would probably lose to Kevin Durant's real-life team. Sure, Durant/Aldridge/Oladipo would be a fun top three, and they would be balanced and talented enough to hang in almost every game, but what an underwhelming rest of the roster. They certainly wouldn't be favored against Team 3, nor against the next group...

Power Rank: 3 (-1)


Year Tm Player Pos G MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT% WS WS/48
2012NOHAnthony DavisF-C43234.923.710.
2015MINKarl-Anthony TownsC-F27134.721.511.
2007PORGreg OdenC10519.
2009LACBlake GriffinF55135.
2004ORLDwight HowardC104434.517.412.
2011CLEKyrie IrvingG46333.822.
2016PHIBen SimmonsG-F10633.615.
2018PHODeandre AytonC2431.316.
2005MILAndrew BogutC69428.
2010WASJohn WallG56535.919.
2008CHIDerrick RoseG51833.618.
2006TORAndrea BargnaniF-C55028.714.
2014CLEAndrew WigginsF-G34836.
2017PHIMarkelle FultzG3320.
2013CLEAnthony BennettF15112.

C: Dwight Howard
F: Anthony Davis
F: Blake Griffin
G: Derrick Rose
G: Kyrie Irving

F/C: Karl-Anthony Towns
G: John Wall
G: Ben Simmons
C: Andrew Bogut
C: Deandre Ayton

At long last, it's Team Golden Boy. There are some undeniable fit issues here -- primarily, the only true wing on the roster is Wiggins, and the odds of him ever taking off his warm-ups are about the same as he and Jimmy Butler starring in a buddy comedy together -- but you can't argue with the talent level. The defensive paint would be an absolute no-fly zone, and depending which vintages you selected, the spacing could be more manageable than it might at first seem. They would also dominate the paint offensively (look at those FG%'s), and there is a near-endless number of devastating pick-and-roll combinations they could deploy. Naturally, LeBron would have been the thing to tie this roster together, but alas, he missed the 2004 cutoff by one season. It would clearly be a nightmare trying to keep this squad away from the rim, but would that interior dominance be enough to counter the balanced roster of Team 3? I say no.

Power Rank: 2 (-1)

There you have it. The hypothetical Draft Slot NBA World Champions are the no.3 picks. As if Luka Doncic needed any more accolades this early in his career.

Hope you enjoyed this exercise, and please feel free to share your feedback on the rankings!