Could a team of MI-native players compete in the NBA?

October 25, 2012 in Cover Story, Professional

By Patrick Hayes

Comcast Sports Net Chicago put together an interesting slideshow looking at what a roster of all Chicago-born active NBA players would look like. The results? They’d have a championship-level roster that featured a backcourt of Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis and eventual Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett up front and a collection of very good players filling out the roster. Also, I have to object strongly to Chicago claiming JaVale McGee. Sorry, he belongs to Flint, and he’s the starting center on our Michigan team.

It had me thinking, though, about what a team of current NBA players from Michigan would look like. Would it be competitive? You be the judge:

Starting Five

  • C – McGee. He’s far from a finished product as a NBA player, but he might be the most athletic player in the league and he gives this team a rim-protecting presence.
  • PF – Al Horford. He’s the franchise player he deserves to be on this team. He’s been criminally underrated in Atlanta. He’s the centerpiece of this team, both offensively and defensively.
  • SF – Wilson Chandler. Chandler is a very talented player yet to find his niche in the NBA completely, but he’s at worst a rotation player on most teams and he still has a lot of untapped potential to be more than that.
  • SG – Jason Richardson. Richardson is nearing the end of the line on his outstanding career, but he gives the starting lineup a very good 3-point shooter.
  • PG – Jordan Crawford. Is Crawford a natural point guard? Not by a longshot. But he’s giving the position a try while John Wall is hurt in Washington, and the early returns haven’t been too bad. He’s basically the only option here for a Michigan team.

Reserves

  • Chris Kaman. Kaman’s best days are behind him, but when he’s healthy, he’s still a reliable post scorer. Off the bench might be the perfect role for him at this point in his career.
  • Draymond Green. Green has made a positive impression in Warriors camp so far. He’d definitely play more minutes on this team than he would with the Warriors, and with Crawford as the team’s starting point guard, a passing forward like Green would be even more vital.
  • Shane Battier. Battier is the glue guy/champion/veteran leader/shooter/defender. He’s also the guy who would have to try and convince Crawford not to shoot 35 times per game.
  • Kenyon Martin. Yeah, K-Mart is technically a Saginaw native, so he counts. He’s about at the end of the line for his NBA career, but he still provides toughness and maybe a little defense off the bench.
  • Walker Russell Jr. Russell is probably not a rotation player on most NBA rosters, but he’s a solid passer and when Crawford gets too shot happy, Russell would be able to spell him and run an offense for a few minutes.
  • Willie Green. Green gives more perimeter shooting off the bench and he could probably play a bit of PG in a pinch, since its this team’s weakest position.
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts. CDR was recently released by the Lakers, but he’s still young, he can still score and he’d be a key reserve on this team.

So, the results? The Horford-McGee frontcourt is obviously an intriguing one, but this team has serious holes, notable in the backcourt where they’re a little shoot-happy and a little old. This team would get slaughtered by CSN’s All-Chicago team and most good teams in the league, but the fact that, even after a few down years in Michigan basketball, the state can still put a full NBA caliber team on a hypothetical court is a strong indicator of just how great the hoops tradition is here.


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