Super teams have been the talk of the NBA the past two summers. So, I decided to see what was the best team I could compose for the upcoming 2017-18 campaign. This wasn’t just an exercise of picking the best 15 players in the league as there were a few constraints.
First, I wanted to have a legitimate team so I have a well-balanced versatile squad who can score at will and hunker down on the defensive end -- there are seven guards and eight front court players. I also used the NBA luxury tax apron, which is $ 125,266,000, as the salary cap. Therefore, I couldn’t have a team comprised of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and/or Steph Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Although I think this team is impressive.
Additionally, I limited myself to picking five players who are on their rookie contracts -- which limits their salary.
This 15-man team has a final salary of $123,498, 828., which means I am over $1.7 million under the salary cap. Nikola Jokic and Malcolm Brogdon are not on rookie deals as they were second round draft picks --first-round selections are the only players subjected to the NBA’s rookie scale.
Without further adieu, here is my NBA Super Team.
Kevin Durant, Warriors: salary $25,000,000
Durant was my first pick as he is arguably the best planet in the world. Plus, he has the best contract of any superstar in the league at $25 million -- which is just the 16th most in the league.
Durant is versatile and with the team that I have assembled he could play four of the five positions. He also can score inside and out as well as handle the ball when necessary. Defensively, he is solid when he is engaged. His length and athleticism makes a quality rim protector regardless of who he is guarding.
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: $18,868,625
Leonard is a very similar to Durant, he is just not the shooter that KD is. But Leonard is a better defender and in certain situations has the capability of playing all five positions. He certainly can guard any player anywhere on the floor.
Leonard, who is a bargain at just over $18.8 million, is an excellent complement to Durant. Leonard is more of a jump shooter who is perimeter oriented while Durant operates most efficiently 16-feet and in. Leonard also doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective while Durant is more ball-dominant. They both have the ability to create their own shots.
Every championship team needs at least two superstars and I couldn’t think of any better two players to start a team than two of the top three players in the league who both are just entering the prime of their careers.
Kyrie Irving, Celtics: $18,868, 625
Irving is listed as the third best point guard and ninth best player in Fadeaway World’s ninth best player in 2016-17. So, three top-10 players on the same team would be unheard of even in the age of Super Teams.
It would be interesting to see how Durant, Leonard, and Irving would mesh?
Irving would be in a similar situation that he was in Cleveland. However, Durant and Leonard are both better shooters than LeBron James and Kevin Love so that would likely give him more operating room.
The 24-year-old point guard would probably have to defer to KD in clutch situations. However, I believe he would be given more freedom due to Durant’s willingness to go to the block and post-mid-range. Also, Leonard would be content getting his in transition and after doing the little things -- cutting to the basket, screen and roll/pop, and off the offensive boards.
Golden State trio of Durant, Steph Curry and Draymond Green gives you an idea of how dominant a this trifecta would be. But Irving’s shot-making and explosiveness tops Curry’s shooting while Leonard bests Green in every category.
Irving’s salary of less than $18.9 million is very friendly.
Kemba Walker, Hornets: $12,000,000
Walker has put up two straight fantastic seasons and is a top-10ish point guard in the league. Walker does not turn the ball over much and he has improved his three-point shooting accuracy in each of his six years in the NBA.
What makes Walker the most attractive for this team is his $12.0 million salary, which makes him just the 98th highest paid-player this upcoming season.
In 2016-17, Walker led all point guards in turnover ratio (7.6). The 27-year-old also was the most efficient in his career, posting a true shooting percentage of 56.9% and a shooting efficiency percentage of 52.7%.
Walker averaged a career-high 23.1 points to go along with 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals while shooting 44.4% from the field and 39.9% from beyond the arc.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves: $6, 216,840
Towns is an up-and-coming star and is already a top-2 or 3 center in the league despite being just 21-years old.
The 7-foot center is very versatile who can dominate a game on both ends of the floor. He can score in the post as well as on the perimeter. He led the league in paint-points last season, scoring 14.1 or his career-high 25.1 points there. Last season, Towns made 70.7% of his shots at the rim which included 130 dunks. He also can make hook-shots with either hand, making 60.7% of those attempts in 2015-17, and has a nearly unstoppable fadeaway.
Towns is also a very rebounder and passer.
Among centers in 2016-17, Towns ranked sixth in the league in rebounds (12.7) per game, including eighth in defensive boards and seventh in assists. He also ranked seventh in three-pointers per game (1.2) and 14th in three-point percentage (36.7%) among players who typically play the 5.
Towns tied Russell Westbrook for the second most double-doubles with 62. He also posted one triple-double.Defensively, Towns is a superb shot-blocking presence who can defend against fellow low-post players as well as switch on guards and be effective.
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavs: $5,000,000
Nowitzki is nearing the end of his professional career, but he is still productive. And at a salary of $5 million, the 39-year-old is a huge bargain.
If this was a real team, Nowitzki would be a perfect mentor for the youngsters as he is one of the most savvy players in the game.
Nowitzki has been slowly declining the last three years. Still, he has one of the best mid-range games today and the potential to post a double-double, recording eight last season. Nowitzki .averaged 14.5 points along with 6.5 rebounds while shooting 43.7% from the floor and 37.8% from long-distance.
Isaiah Thomas Cavs: $6,261,395
Thomas has developed into one of the best point guards in the league. Thomas is a scoring point guard who is an expert at running the pick-n-roll and getting to the basket. The 28-year-old led the league in drives to the basket (12.7) and drive points (9.5) per game last year. He is not a great finisher at the rim though he does an excellent job at drawing fouls. He drew 228 shooting fouls, however, just 28 resulted in And1’s. Thomas, a fantastic free throw shooter, making 7.8 of his 8.5 attempts (90.9%) from the charity stripe per game.
Thomas has become a potent three-point shooter the past three years. He ranked fifth in the league with 245 triples in 2016-17, making 37.9% of those attempts or 3.0 a game. Thomas, who tallied a career-high 28.9 points a game, has averaged over 22 points and 5.9 dimes a game the past two campaigns.
On this team, Thomas would likely be the first guard off the bench. He would be the main scorer on the second unit looking to push the pace at every opportunity. When filling in on the first team, Thomas would have to become more of a distributor.
Thomas is a major liability on the defensive end. But his offensive ability and salary of less than $6.3 million salary is irresistible.
Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks: $4,503,600
Porzingis is still developing as a player, but the potential is undeniable. The 7-3 power forward-center can score inside and out. He is an excellent finisher at the rim, converting 70.4% of those attempts last season though more than half of his made baskets were dunks. At this point, the 22-year-old is more comfortable facing the basket than posting-up and needs to continue to develop his inside game.
Porzingis also needs to work on being more efficient. Defensively, on the other hand, Porzingis can guard interior or wing players. He is an outstanding shot-blocker.
Porzingis improved in most categories in year two. He posted 12 double-doubles and averaged 18.1 points along with 7.2 caroms while shooting 45.0% from the floor and 35.7% from beyond the arc. Foul trouble is an issue for the Latvian youngster who fouled out six times and was whistled for a foul 3.7 times a game.
On this make believe team, Porzingis playing time would fluctuate greatly depending on match-ups. Due to his versatility, Porzingis would be able to fit in with nearly lineup of this team.
Derrick Rose, Cavs: $2,106,470
Rose has not been himself since his MVP season in 2011 due to a myriad of knee injuries. Still, at a paltry salary of $2.1 million, a team can’t go wrong taking a chance on the 28-year-old.
Rose is coming off his best season in 2016-17 over the past four years. Rose posted two double-doubles and scored in double-figures in 61 of 64 games last season.Overall, he produced 18.0 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1% from the field.
On the negative side, Rose is not an efficient scorer or shooter as he is not threat from beyond the arc. He turns the ball over a little too much and is not great on the defensive end.
On this star-studded squad, Rose would be a very valuable asset coming off the bench. While he doesn’t have the explosiveness that he used to possess, Rose would be able to rely on his playmaking ability and mid-range offensive game that includes an exceptional floater/tear-drop.
Danny Green, Spurs: $10,000,000
Green is on the team because of his 3 and D ability. I would of prefered Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton but his salary of over $14 million doesn’t fit under the salary cap. The reason being is that Middleton is younger (26) and more versatile offensively.
Green has struggled the past two seasons, shooting the ball. Green averaged 7.3 points on 39.2% field goal percentage and 37.9% last season. However, he did bounce back from a career-low 49.2% true shooting percentage in 2015-16 to register a 53.7% true shooting percentage in 2016-17. Despite his offensive struggles, Green remained a defensive force -- earning All-NBA Defensive honors for first time in his career (2nd).
Green is versatile with the ability to play four positions though he is more suited for the wing. He ranks 42nd in NBA history in career three-point percentage (40%).
Devin Booker, Suns: $2,319,360
Booker is a sweet-shooting lefty off guard who has the potential to be one of the best scorers of his generation. The 20-year-old is not just a catch-and-shoot-specialist as he can come off screens as well as shoot off the dribble though his midrange game needs refinement.
Booker picked up three double-doubles as a rookie in 2015-16, but he did not record a single double-double last year though he increased his assist total to 3,4 a game last year. Booker, who poured in 70 points against Boston on March 24, tallied 30 or more points 13 times last season. Overall, he averaged 22.1 points a game on 42.3% shooting from the field and 36.3% from beyond the three-point line.
Myles Turner, Pacers: $2,569,920
Turner showed off massive improvements last year compared to his rookie campaign in 2015-16. The 21-years-old growth potential is off the chart, however, he needs to be more consistent.
The 6-11 left-handed center, who posted 15 double-doubles, finished fifth in the league last year. He averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 51.1% from the field, 34.8% from beyond the arc as well as 80.9% from the charity stripe.
Turner topped the 20-point plateau 15 times in 2016-17. He was pretty efficient, producing over 1.3 points per shot and recording a 58.5 true shooting percentage. Among centers, Turner was eight in real plus-minus, 15th in defensive real plus-minus and 18th in PER.
Lou Williams, Clippers: $7,000,000
Williams is on the team because he can score in bunches in a hurry. While there are several players on the squad who can put the ball in the hoop, you can never have enough scorers on a team. Williams is also an excellent free throw shooter.
Williams, the NBA’s 2015 6th Man of the Year, had his best season of his career in 2016-17 as he produced 28.5 points to go along with 4.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. He also was the most efficient of his career, tallying 1.42 points per shot and a shooting efficiency of 51.1%. Williams also posted a career-best 59.3% true shooting percentage- which was nearly a full percentage point over his previous best season.
Williams had five games of 30 or more points in 2016-17, which includes a 40-point effort in 32 minutes against Memphis on December 3. In the game against Memphis, Williams was 11-of-20 from the floor, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 14-of-14 from the free throw line.
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: $1,471,382
Jokic is one of the biggest draft steals this decade. The 22-year-old Serb lasted until the 41st pick in 2014.
Jokic is highly skilled who can play in both the high and low post. The 6-10 center is a fantastic passer and quality rebounder. While he doesn’t block a ton of shots, he is an effective rim-protector due to his outstanding positioning.
Jokic averaged 16.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 2016-17. He shot 57.8% from the floor and 32.4% from the three-point line. Jokic, a very good free throw shooter, is highly efficient recording 1.43 points per game and registering a shooting efficiency of 60.5%. He had a 64.0% true shooting percentage.
Last season, Jokic finished 14th in the league with 39 double-doubles and six triple-doubles -- which ranked 14th and fourth, respectively. He also ranked first in real plus-minus and PER, among centers.
Malcolm Brogdon, Bucks: $1,312,611
The 2016-17 Rookie of the Year was also a second round draft steal. Brogdon, the 36th overall selection in the 2016 draft, improved each month during this past season. He averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 45.7% from the field as well as 40.7% from beyond the arc. Brogdon also recorded 1.1 steals a game while just turning the ball over 1.5 times a game in 26.4 minutes a game.
The 6-5 combo guard possesses outstanding ball-handling skills and competes on the defensive end. The key for him going forward will be how much his perimeter shooting continues to improve.