North Carolina Basketball: Creating the Ultimate 12-Man Tar Heels Team
With all the stars that have come out North Carolina, building the ultimate 12-man roster of former Tar Heels is a daunting task. And one that is sure to spark controversy among fans of UNC.
Before questioning my selections, understand that I have put together a team that would mesh—and fill all needs on the floor. This is not about listing the top-12 Tar Heels ever.
Because of that, there are quite a few snubs that I'm disappointed about not making the squad. I just have love for too many former Heels. Like all coaches, I had to make some tough decisions, but I did what was best for the team.
In my mind, the squad I produced is simply unbeatable—even against any other college's “ultimate team.” Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the closest thing to the Dream Team.
PG 1: Ty Lawson, 5'11”
One of the most exciting point guards I have seen come out of North Carolina, Ty Lawson can get the job done in a multitude of ways. In my opinion, he is the most versatile floor general to set foot in the Dean Dome.
Lawson's vision and speed proved to be too much for opposing defenses at the college level, and is proving much of the same in the NBA. He doesn't often have 10-assist games, but with the teammates I am handing him, Lawson will start to defer.
This is where Lawson becomes deadly.
As soon as defenses back off him to cover the other superstars, he has the ability to scorch the net from deep. In his final season at UNC, Lawson shot 47 percent from beyond the arc. Currently, he is knocking them down from NBA range at a 39 percent clip.
Lawson is also a turnover machine on defense, making this starting squad deadly on both sides of the floor. Not only did he average 2.1 steals per game in his final season at Chapel Hill, but he also snatched eight of them in the 2009 NCAA championship.
In my opinion, there is no better fit to make this starting five an impossible team to beat.
SG 1: Michael Jordan, 6'6”
Duh! Who could I possibly put over Michael Jordan at the 2?
I don't think I need to explain the offensive prowess of His Airness. Jordan was never much of a three-point shooter, which is another reason there is a need for Lawson at the 1. For his NBA career, Jordan only shot 33 percent from that range, but he got it done in the clutch—from anywhere.
Not only did he hit the game-winner in the 1982 NCAA championship, he went on to hit 9-of-18 clutch shots in the NBA playoffs. That is the best among active players in the NBA, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Stats like this weren't readily available during the pre-Internet era, so he can only be compared to current players.
Much thanks to Chasing23.com for compiling those stats.
Jordan's defense is what many tend to forget. For his NBA career, he averaged 2.3 steals per game—and a high of 3.2 in 1987-88. Lawson and Jordan would be a deadly combination on perimeter defense and would be unstoppable on the break.
SF 1: James Worthy, 6'9”
The second NBA Hall of Famer on this starting lineup, James Worthy was a dominant force—and would be the anchor of my team's frontcourt.
Worthy was unstoppable in his prime. He had great size at the small forward position, with a 6'9” frame and long arms to match. He also played with the physicality of a 4 and the athleticism of a 3.
My favorite part of his game was getting it done when it counted. “Big Game” James became the go-to guy for the Lakers when they needed a spark. His regular-season averages were 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while his postseason averages went up to 21.1 and 5.2 respectively.
James also averaged 1.1 steals per game and was one of the best finishers on the break. Combine that with the numbers of Jordan and Lawson, and we have ourselves a pretty intimidating trio—on both sides of the floor.
PF/C 1: Rasheed Wallace, 6'10”
I can see many people disagreeing with this pick. First, let me explain why I would have Rasheed Wallace as my starting power forward.
Though he may not be the highest scoring 4/5 combo out of Carolina, Wallace was a very versatile player. He knocked down 33.7 percent of his attempted threes during his 15-year NBA career. He also had a knack for burying the big shot when his team needed it the most.
On top of that, he was also a solid rebounder and passer.
What makes the most difference, though, is his attitude. Some loved it, some hated it. I could do without the incessant whining about calls, but the rest only seemed to serve as a catalyst to his team's momentum.
Sometimes a team needs that intense personality on the floor, and Rasheed Wallace is the perfect former Tar Heel to fill that need.
C/PF 1: Bob McAdoo, 6'9”
Though he is considered one of the best shooting big men of all time, Bob McAdoo never stayed on one team for very long. As a matter of fact, he played for seven different teams during his 14-year career. He went from a three-time scoring champion to barely averaging double digits.
That wouldn't happen here. I'd have McAdoo on lock at center.
Few centers have ever had the outside game of Bob McAdoo. And even fewer were as prolific a scorer. In his first three years as a starter, he averaged 32 points and 13.9 rebounds per game.
Because of his range and scoring ability, he could also play the power forward position, but he played his best at center. The opposite is true of Rasheed Wallace, so the two are interchangeable. The versatility of the two bigs would allow them to exploit matchups.
PG 2: Kendall Marshall, 6'4”
Only playing for two years at Chapel Hill, and with no NBA experience, this may not be the most ideal pick for my backup point guard. However, I have seen a lot of point guards come out of Carolina—and nobody exemplifies what it means to be “pure” point guard more than Kendall Marshall.
And nobody has averaged 9.8 assists per game during a single season at Chapel Hill.
He is also the opposite of Ty Lawson—but in a good way. Lawson is short and insanely fast. Marshall is five inches taller and much slower. However, he can push the pace of the game just as fast as Lawson.
Marshall also has a pass-first mentality, which I love. When the floor general has it in his mind that he wants to dish to someone else, it's easier to set up teammates. When the lanes open up or the defense gives him space on the perimeter, he doesn't mind popping a shot.
Though he isn't near the level of defender John Stockton was—as he is the untouchable all-time steal leader of the NBA—his point play is very similar to that of the best point guard to step foot on the NBA hardwood. I think that is something I can live with coming off the bench.
SG 2: Charlie Scott, 6'5”
It's only fitting that the first African-American scholarship player at UNC is represented on this 12-man roster. But that isn't the reason I chose him, either—Charlie Scott was just that good.
Scott ripped through his two-year stint in the ABA, scoring 30.6 points per game. After blowing that league up, he moved on to the NBA. He never averaged 30 points again, but his career average of 20.7 as a pro isn't too shabby.
And ask anyone who was a Celtic fan in 1976, and they will tell you how much he meant to the team in that championship run.
Charlie Scott was a solid shooter, a good defender and had the athleticism and finishing ability to get it done in transition—which is very important, when your point guards are Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video from one of Bleacher Report's partners, so here is a link to Charlie Scott highlights.
SF 2: Vince Carter, 6'6”
Oh, yes. Vince Carter and Michael Jordan on the same team. That alone would be enough to make opposing teams not bother to show—unless, of course, they wanted to land on a poster.
The high-flying dunks taking place on this court would have people questioning if they were watching a game or a 40-minute highlight reel.
Not only would he help provide the best air show on earth, but Carter can also give some assistance from the three-point line. He is shooting 37 percent from the arc for his NBA career and shot 40 percent or better over four different seasons.
He wasn't a steal machine, but he is averaging 1.2 per game—which is pretty standard for this squad.
Vince Carter was such a dynamic and explosive player in his prime, it's impossible to keep him off this list. Over the last few years, it has been forgotten how good he really was. But despite all the moves and the aging legs, he still has a career average of 21.4 points per game in the NBA.
PF 2: Antawn Jamison, 6'8”
I'm sure I upset someone by not putting the great Sam Perkins or Tyler Hansbrough here—I liked them, too. However, do an numbers check and you can see why I would take Antawn Jamison instead.
By no means has Jamison been a superstar in the NBA, but he has been a very solid player for a lot of bad teams. Even over a 14-year career, his numbers have yet to fall off. He managed 17.2 points per game last year with Cleveland, which isn't far from his average of 19.5.
Most of his points don't come in the paint, either—Jamison is a born shooter. I'm all about versatility, so having another power forward that can drop threes is crucial. Jamison is knocking them down at a 34.6 percent clip.
Antawn Jamison is also a pretty darn good rebounder and passer at the 4, averaging 7.9 (2.5 ORB) and 1.7 respectively. He is also another player to average one steal per game.
Jamison is an all-around stud at power forward and a perfect fit to come off the bench and replace Wallace.
C 2: Tyler Zeller, 7'0”
I needed some size on this roster. My starting center is only 6'9”, so I needed more size coming off the bench—and Tyler Zeller is just what the doctor ordered. I can't think of a better seven-footer that has donned the Carolina blue.
Not only is he a solid rebounder, pulling in 9.6 per game in his final season at Chapel Hill, but I don't think I've seen a faster hook shot. Combined with his height, quick hand and precision, Zeller's right hook as almost impossible to defend.
Just as important to this team is his ability to run in transition. I'm not sure any big has run the floor better than Z, which makes him a perfect fit to reunite with his two former Tar Heel point guards.
Tyler Zeller doesn't have a big “wow” factor, he is just an extremely solid and fundamentally-sound big man. I could care less about “wow”—I have Jordan and Carter for that. Just give me production.
SG 3: Hubert Davis, 6'5”
I basically set up two teams, and now it's time to fill in those other two seats on the bench—and there are a lot of butts to choose from. My first choice is the newest assistant to Roy Williams, and likely predecessor, Hubert Davis.
I chose him for one reason, and that is to come off the bench and knock down some threes. Nobody has left Chapel Hill with a higher three-point percentage than Davis, at 43.5 percent. He is also the only Tar Heel to go 5-for-5—and he did it twice.
Another rarity you will find with Davis is that he actually ended up with a better three-point percentage in the NBA. His 44.1 percent conversion rate is second-best all-time in the NBA behind Steve Kerr. And since Kerr wasn't a Tar Heel, I can't think of anyone better to come off the bench and knock down some treys.
I picked a lot of former Heels that shot a commendable percentage from the arc, but none buried them with the consistency of Hubert Davis
PF 3: Bobby Jones, 6'9”
Baseball isn't the only sport that needs a utility man.
Bobby Jones could come off the bench and give the team a big spark of energy. The man was a hustler and did his job well in all aspects—and was one of the peskiest defenders in the game.
Jones came off the bench for most of his NBA career, but he was the first player awarded Sixth Man of the Year.
Despite only averaging 27.3 minutes per game, through his pro career, his production was very solid. Jones averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. Again, this is in just over 27 minutes per game.
In my mind, there is nobody that could come off the bench and fill a void better than Bobby Jones.
All stats are from the ABA/NBA, except for Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller. Obviously, I could only punch in their college numbers. Due to the maturity factor, only their final-year averages were used.
Also, only those that attempted three-pointers were factored into the three-point percentage.
The following players I was disappointed I couldn't find a spot for and felt they should be recognized in some way. Feel free to post who you would have on your "ultimate 12-man Tar Heels team ever." I'd love to see how everyone else would piece together a team.
PG: Phil Ford—6'2"
SG/SF: Jerry Stackhouse—6'6"
SF: Lennie Rosenbluth—6'4"
PF: Tyler Hansbrough—6'9"
PF/C: Sam Perkins—6'9"
C: Brad Daugherty—7'0"