The NBA draft system tries to ensure the league is more balanced and that more often than not, the smaller teams, or at least the franchises with the worst records, get the best available talents to try and compete with the winners in a couple of years.
So, that often make players get drafted by the teams they hated growing up or simply stopping them from playing for the very same team they grew up rooting for and even dreamt about playing in.
But, what if the NBA draft didn’t exist and players played for the franchise of the state or town they were born and raised? Or what if they could just play wherever they want? Today, we’ll pretend that’s exactly what’s happening, ranking all 30 NBA teams if every guy played for their hometown franchise.
Note: the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings had to be excluded from this ranking as they didn’t have enough players.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
Starters: Tyus Jones, Alan Anderson, Kris Humphries, Jon Leuer, Cole Aldrich
The future’s bright for Minnesota with Karl Anthony - Towns and Andrew Wiggins leading the way, but if they were stuck with this team they would pretty much still be the lousy losing franchise they’ve been through history.
Of course, Tyus Jones could finally have that much needed playing time he craves in order to become an elite offensive player as we all expected him to be, but if the guys supposed to help you are Humphries and Alan Anderson, you’re definitely not winning many games.
22. Phoenix Suns
Starters: Bryce Cotton, Jerryd Bayless, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, Alan Williams
These guys would be an entire mess, so thank God the Suns currently count with Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe and Alex Len for the future or they would be in a terrible situation otherwise with this kind of roster.
C’mon, if you have to rely on Bayless as your primary scorer, you’re in for a really bad time, with Richard Jefferson having to play over 35 minutes per night and counting with absolutely no rim protection whatsoever with Frye and Williams guarding the paint. Ugh.
21. Boston Celtics
Starters: Michael Carter-Williams, Shabazz Napier, Pat Coughnaton, Noah Vonleh, Nerlens Noel
The Celtics were the first seed in the East this season thanks to Smart and Bradley’s pesky defense to complement Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford on the offensive end, but we don’t see any of this happening with this starting 5.
Of course, both MCW and Napier were very intriguing prospects in the backcourt, but it’s pretty safe to say neither of them is going to reach what was expected from them coming out of college. Still, they would have an elite rim protector on Noel for all those 15 games he’ll be healthy and ready to play in the season.
20. Milwaukee Bucks
Starters: Devin Harris, Wesley Matthews, Sam Dekker, Mike Dunleavy, Steve Novak
The Bucks are yet another very promising team under Jason Kidd’s tutelage with youngsters like Giannis, Brogdon and Jabari on their ranks, being a defensive matchup hell for opposing sides but lacking a bit of scoring from downtown.
Well, that would definitely not be a problem with this starting 5 featuring 4 sharpshooters, but other than that, you’d be crazy to expect anything good coming out of these ballers playing together.
19. Portland Trail Blazers
Starters: Jerami Grant, Ronnie Brewer, Terrence Ross, Kyle Singler, Terrence Jones
The Blazers are kind of in basketball limbo nowadays, being competitive enough to barely make the playoffs but lacking anything that could actually make them a competitive squad to make a run at the championship.
Still, they’re way better off as they are right now, as this team would be completely horrible to watch. Grant’s still a work in progress, while Ross, Singler and Jones have completely regressed into mediocre players after being very promising prospects.
18. Orlando Magic
Starters: Vince Carter, Jarrell Eddie, Chandler Parsons, Marreese Speights, Larry Sanders
Orlando has been a huge disappointment even despite all those nice and interesting moves they made during the past offseason, including the hiring of Frank Vogel, whose work with the Magic let a lot to desire after a full season.
And they wouldn’t fare much different nowadays if they actually had these guys, with Parsons coming out of a horrible season due to injury, Carter in the sunset of his career, and Sanders barely seeing the court after a couple of years.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Starters: Cameron Payne, Lou Williams, JJ Redick, Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright
The Grizzlies have made a name for themselves due to their grind, their physical play and their suffocating team defense, also featuring twin towers on Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but constantly lacking sharpshooting.
If they had this rosters, things would be exactly the opposite, as they could have three very reliable scorers from beyond the arc in Payne, Redick and Sweet Lou, but they would get completely torched in the paint with that lack of size.
16. Miami Heat
Starters: Brandon Knight, Jordan Clarkson, Tim Hardaway, Trevor Ariza, Udonis Haslem
The Heat is not much of a good team nowadays, although with Coach Spoelstra in command, they will always be dangerous. Besides, that 1-2 punch featuring Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside has been quite effective so far, although the lack of a 3rd option has really hurt them.
Still, they wouldn’t be much better with this squad, although the scoring would definitely be there with Knight and Clarkson in the backcourt, while Ariza’s 3&D style is always welcome on any team, although they would definitely struggle to contain opponent teams in the paint.
15. Philadelphia 76ers
Starters: Kyle Lowry, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Tyreke Evans, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris
The Sixers are definitely on the rise after some years of embarrassing themselves tanking to acquire a lot of assets and young talents like Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid.
But, if instead of trusting the process they would just sign their native guys, they would be on the verge of a playoff run with the Morris twins back together and Lowry leading the team’s offense. Still, that won’t be enough for them to actually have a shot at the O’Brien, but they could at least make it past the 1st round of the postseason.
14. New Orleans Pelicans
Starters: DJ Augustin, Elfrid Payton, Kelly Oubre Jr, Thaddeus Young, Paul Millsap
This franchise isn’t exactly what you’d call a lucky team, and the future is quite uncertain with both Cousins and Holiday set to enter free agency, but they could be onto something if they manage to keep them alongside with Davis and they all stay healthy.
With this projected squad, Payton would definitely make up for the lack of defense from Augustin, while Kelly Oubre would definitely flourish into that prolific two-way player we’re expecting him to be, and Millsap would leave the team with his experience.
13. Toronto Raptors
Starters: Corey Joseph, Nik Stauskas, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Thompson
The Raptors keep falling short when it matters the most despite creating a very competitive team featuring Lowry, DeRozan, PJ Tucker, Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas, but being constantly overpowered by LeBron James and company.
But, with these players on board, they could be one of the best teams in the Association, featuring what’s pretty much Canada’s national team. Joseph’s developing into a very capable point guard, while Stauskas and Olynyk would provide scoring from beyond the arc and Thompson would lock the paint with his rebounding ability.
Last but not least, having one of the most promising youngsters like Wiggins on the roster would also be very interesting.
12. Golden State Warriors
Starters: Damian Lillard, Jeremy Lin, Paul Pierce, Matt Barnes, Aaron Gordon
The Warriors should definitely be thankful for the NBA’s draft system, as they built their dynasty mostly via draft before adding other pieces to build that impressive roster, something way better than just pairing these guys.
Of course, three point shooting would still be in the picture with Pierce on the roster, and they would still have a top tier scoring guard in Lillard, but Jeremy Lin and Matt Barnes are definitely no Thompson and Durant, while Gordon could do pretty much the same things Pachulia does for the W’s, which are less than a few.
11. Houston Rockets
Starters: Jimmy Butler, Gerald Green, Justise Winslow, Kendrick Perkins, DeAndre Jordan
The Rockets have finally put together another competitive squad under Mike D’Antoni, featuring a lot of shooting with a lot of paces anchored with just one rim protector on Clint Capela, completely opening the court for shooters to take their shot.
Sadly, this won’t happen with these players on board, although the paint would be completely locked with Perkins and Jordan on the squad. Still, Butler and Winslow could provide a lot of nice defense, but the lack of shooting from beyond the arc would destroy this team come playoffs time.
10. Detroit Pistons
Starters: Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Wilson Chandler, Draymond Green, JaVale McGee
Detroit has always been one of the fiercest teams in the East since their Bad Boys era, but sadly for their fan base; they’ve mightily struggled over the last 5 years or so and they can’t seem to shake off their woes despite having a very competitive roster.
Still, they would be great if the team featured only Detroit native guys, with blossoming youngsters like Ulis and Booker leading the backcourt and Wilson Chandler producing a lot of points. Besides, McGee has proven to be quite effective alongside Draymond, a top 3 defender in today’s NBA.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers
Starters: Trey Burke, CJ McCollum, LeBron James, Jared Sullinger, Larry Nance Jr.
The Cavaliers are the second best team in the NBA and they will continue to be so for as long as LeBron James decides to keep playing at the Q alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, regarding of who’s calling the shots in the sidelines.
With this squad, they would still be pretty good, but they would definitely regress. Of Course, McCollum is one of the most promising youngsters in the league nowadays, while Nance keeps developing and James is a top 5 player in the league nowadays, but he’s constantly proven that he can’t win on his own.
8. Atlanta Hawks
Starters: Malcolm Brogdon, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors, Dwight Howard
The Hawks are yet another team stuck in basketball mediocrity limbo with their constant playoff runs constantly being shut down by better teams in the second round, and with Paul Millsap set to opt out of his deal, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change much in the foreseeable future.
So, they would definitely be way better if they’d feature Atlanta natives only, with Brogdon being a very productive player as a rookie, KCP improving his defense while being a consistent three-point shooter and Crowder playing outstanding defense on the wings. Of course, having Favors and Howard in the paint would be great for any single team, with the latter balancing the lack of defense the first would provide.
7. Dallas Mavericks
Starters: Deron Williams, Marcus Smart, CJ Miles, LaMarcus Aldridge, Myles Turner
The Dallas Mavericks have been vastly inconsistent over the last couple of seasons, and those short-term signings they’ve done haven’t been very helpful in their pursuit for another ring for Carlisle and Nowitzki.
Still, they would be in a much better position with these players on board, although Deron seems like he’s an ex-player and wasn’t very productive for his native side, but Smart’s and Turner’s defense would be a significant boost for their current status, while Miles and Aldridge would put a lot of numbers on the scoreboard.
6. New York Knicks + Brooklyn Nets
Starters: Kemba Walker, Danny Green, Carmelo Anthony, Kenneth Faried, Andre Drummond
Both the Knicks and Nets have been pretty much awful over the last decade, especially the Nets, who also gave away their entire future a couple of seasons ago with that infamous deal to bring Terry, Pierce and Garnett to the Barclays.
But, if these rivals joined forces with the best 5 ballers of their streets, they would be a huge danger in the east. Kemba has developed into a very good player, while Green is one of the best 3&D guys in the league. Besides, with Faried and Drummond in the paint, the chance for an offensive board will be pretty close to zero for opposing sides, and Carmelo is just one of the greatest scorers in the history of the game.
5. Indiana Pacers
Starters: Jeff Teague, Mike Conley, Gordon Hayward, Zach Randolph, Mason Plumlee
The Pacers have always had pretty decent teams but have never been good enough to be actually competitive in the East, constantly lacking support cast to help their main star lead the team to the promised land.
But, with this kind of squad they would be a constant NBA Semifinals contender, featuring two of the best (and more underrated) point guards in the association with a growing star like Gordon Hayward. Besides, Randolph’s help in both glasses would also balance this very promising team.
4. Washington Wizards
Starters: Ty Lawson, Avery Bradley, Rudy Gay, Kevin Durant, Roy Hibbert
The Wizards have quietly improved on a yearly basis with the surge of the best backcourt in the East featuring John Wall and Bradley Beal, while the addition of Scott Brooks and some role players really make them improve during the course of this year.
Still, if they feature just players from the capital of the team, they would be practically unstoppable, with Bradley and Gay providing a lot of defense while Durant develops into the best two-way player in the league and Hibbert takes his career back from the ashes as the defensive anchor for the Wizards.
3. Charlotte Hornets
Starters: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, John Wall, John Henson, Hassan Whiteside
The Charlotte franchise has never been able to reach NBA stardom despite having a lot of great players through their ranks, especially during the 80’s and 90’s, and finally having a franchise player like Kemba is slowly making them improve in their pursuit for the ring.
Still, if you make them play with this 3 point guard lineup featuring the best two pgs in the league in Wall and Paul and the best shooter in NBA history, they would pretty much destroy every single team. Besides, could you just imagine the block party every night with Whiteside and Henson playing side by side? Boy, they could even block themselves out of mere instincts.
2. Chicago Bulls
Starters: Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jabari Parker, Anthony Davis, Jahlil Okafor
Chicago was a long time witness of the best player in the history of the game and has seen spectacular teams that make them quite nostalgic if they compare them with the mess of a squad Gar/Pax has given Fred Hoiberg.
But, if this projected squad was the actual roster of the Bulls, not many teams in the world could contain them, although three point shooting would still be an issue. Still, Davis would make up for Okafor’s horrible defense while Parker would pretty much flourish as the league’s leading scorer receiving passes from both Wade and Rose that have to be double teamed when attacking the rim.
1. Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers
Starters: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Love
The Lakers are one of the greatest franchises in the history of all sports, although they’re not having a good time over the last few seasons, while the Clippers have always been pretty much the league’s laughing stock until the arrival of Doc Rivers and Chris Paul.
But, with this Los Angeles only squad, the Clippers may finally reach the NBA finals, and even if we’ve seen some pretty impressive teams in this list, these guys playing together would definitely be the best team in basketball history, featuring great defenders that can also put more than 25 points per game on any given night, making them a lock to win the ring season after season.
I will just add that DeMar DeRozan will be the bext 6th man in the NBA.