Building Each Franchise's 2012-13 NBA Jam Roster
We all know NBA Jam. Released in 1993, the original Jam gave gamers one of the first opportunities to play as an NBA player on a gaming console.
It has since been spun-off, recreated and re-released on various consoles, but the core style of gameplay has remained always the same: outrageously unrealistic dunks and hangtime in a two-on-two matchup.
In this article, I'm going to imagine what each teams' 2012-13 NBA Jam team game would look like. Which three players (two starters and one backup) have the unrealistic, posterizing talent to qualify for their team's squads?
Jump shooting is also nice, so it won't be all about the big guys. For most of these teams, I'm going to include a sharpshooter and a fierce dunker.
Those are the rules: not necessarily the best players for a team, but the most ferocious.
Let's get started.
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This one is obvious. Atlanta's best player and one of the better big men in the game, Josh Smith is capable of outrageous dunks in real life. What he could do in a video game that completely defies physics? His defense is good, so he might prevent some dunks as well.
Say what you will about Atlanta's backcourt after the loss of Joe Johnson this offseason. Their frontcourt is pretty fantastic. Josh Smith at PF and Al Horford at center comprise a formidable combination of big men.
Al Horford lives and dies in the paint. He can posterize as much as the next guy. He'd be a good compliment to Smith, and opposing teams would have a hard time stopping these two guys.
With Joe Johnson out of the equation, John Jenkins is going to end up being their go-to guy for long-distance shots. His excellent shooting mechanics have many people comparing him (somewhat prematurely) to Ray Allen. Pairing him with either Horford or Smith would cause other teams to split up their defense and risk a fierce dunk.
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As if this was a surprise to anyone. In the real world, KG might be showing signs of slowing down, but in NBA Jam where everyone is invincible, KG would be one of the better players in the video game. Known for posterizing dunks, instinctual rebounding and a fired-up attitude, KG would be perfect for this game.
Again, age doesn't matter in this slide. And even if it did, Pierce is aging gracefully, averaging 19.4 points, 4.5 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game last year. Perhaps he gets his energy from Garnett.
Pierce is known to be fearless and can drive to the rim for a hard dunk or take it out behind the arc and shoot a three. Double threat.
Sullinger off the bench makes a lot of sense. At one point, he was considered a mid-to-high lottery pick, but he slipped in the draft due to medical red flags. The Celtics took a chance, and I think it's going to pay off.
He's a tough player, great for rebounding and scoring in the paint. A more-than-capable dunker, he can even shoot the occasional three. Perfect for this game.
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Kris Humphries might seem like an odd choice, but I don't really see him turning back after breaking back last year. He plays the boards as hard as anyone, averaged a double-double last year and is more than capable of a good dunk here and there.
I had to include Williams in this list. He's one of the best playmakers in all of basketball. Sure, he's a bit undersized for this game, but let's get real. A 6'3" point guard is going to be able to dunk when given the ability to jump ten feet into the air. He's also a good outside threat and assist-man.
I had a hard time deciding between Lopez and Joe Johnson here, but Lopez is the better inside scorer. He's a seven-foot center, and while he's been a notoriously soft rebounder, he's still more than capable of making defenders look silly with a huge dunk now and then.
Plus, with Williams already in the game, it doesn't make sense to add another guard, even if Johnson is a solid 6'7".
I'll be honest, this is a hard slide for me. I'm a Bobcats fan, and the Bobcats aren't exactly deep as far as big-men go. But MKG proved in college that he's fierce on the glass and capable of bone-shattering dunk. He's a tough, physical rebounder. He'd be great in this game, and his jump shot wouldn't have to be a factor.
I wasn't kidding when I said this was hard. This will easily be the smallest rotation in the game. Henderson has good size for a SG at 6'5" and was Charlotte's leading scorer. He is great at driving to the rim and dunking, or pulling back for a mid-range shot.
Henderson is an underrated player and would, with super-human powers, probably do well in this game.
I felt like I had to add at least one big guy to the roster. Mullens is not known for his paint play, but he has been known to lay down a dunk or two. Best of all, you get a two-for-one with Mullens, who is also capable of mid-long range shooting. Definitely not the ideal big guy to have on your NBA Jam team, but a serviceable one at least.
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Noah is as physical a center as you will find in the NBA. He's a good body to have in the paint. While his offensive numbers won't blow you away, his 10.2 points per game last season is plenty considering the scorers he's surrounded by.
He's the kind of guy you would find in NBA Jam. With super-ridiculous jumping capabilities, the 6'11" Noah would be great.
Obviously Rose is coming off of a serious injury from last season and won't be on the court to begin the season, but we're going to ignore that.
It's impossible to ignore the greatness of Rose as a playmaker. He does it all on the court. Best of all, he plays much bigger than his 6'3" frame. He'd be one of the better players in the game.
I know a lot of people really hate Booz, but I'm not really sure why. Sure, he took a dip in production last season, but he still managed 15 points and almost nine rebounds per game. He's a good physical big man who can definitely provide some serious dunks.
With the smallish Derrick Rose already on the team, Boozer makes more sense than anyone else.
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This was another hard team to do. On a team that basically revolves around point guard Kyrie Irving, not a lot happens in Cleveland's frontcourt. That should change with Zeller's arrival. He's 7'0" and a physical player in the paint, and if you watched any UNC games, you know he can put the ball away with defenders in his face. He'd be a solid player in this game.
Speaking of Irving, it'd be hard not to include him on the team. He has the potential to be one of the best point guards in the game. He's a great playmaker and a good scorer.
He doesn't have the size, but who cares? He can still shoot a mean jumper, and he'd open up Zeller on the inside. With the ability to jump 10 feet into the air, he could even get in on the action himself.
He's the obvious backup player for the squad, but he's not a terribly bad backup. His numbers last year (8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 block per game) won't blow you away, but he put them up averaging only 23 minutes. Not too bad.
He's a solid 6'9", and can get in the paint to score and dunk. He might jump over a defender or two if he wants—with a ball that's literally on fire. Physics don't matter.
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Surprise, right? Hardly. Dirk has been known as more of a finesse-style big man, but at 7'0", he'd fit right into this game. He has a great jump shot, scores in a variety of ways and can slam it in pretty much anyone's face.
In real life, he's a great playmaker who opens up the floor just by being there. In this game, he'd probably be better suited to sticking around the paint and exploding off the ground for a slam.
Kaman, another seven-footer, is definitely more of a prototypical center than Nowitzki. He would definitely allow Nowitzki to be more versatile, even in such a wacky game. At 7'0", you'd expect someone to be able to pull off a dunk, and Kaman can definitely do that. Two seven-footers on the floor would be an excellent commodity in this game.
The Dallas Mavericks took a bit of a beating this offseason, but they did manage to pick up a couple of good players in the draft in Jae Crowder and Jared Cunningham.
Cunningham might have been a reach for a first-round pick, but he can definitely shoot. With two big guys on the team already, they'll need someone who can score a jumper or two. While Nowitzki can do that, Cunningham showed in college that he can be a reliable outside scorer.
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Andre's do-everything playing style is going to be a huge boost for what was already a great Denver Nuggets team. On NBA Jam, he doesn't have quite the size of a team's best player, but his do-it-all mentality would translate well into the game. Whatever you need—whether it's a drive to the hoop or a soft jumper—Iggy can do it.
The Nuggets have a ton of size on their roster with a lot of guys at 6'9" and over, but McGee is probably the best of the lot. He's a big, physical player in the paint. He throws the ball down as hard as anyone and can block shots like he's angry at the basketball.
That's how he approaches his game in real life: angry. It would translate well into this video game.
Ty Lawson is short. We can go ahead and get that one out of the way. At only 5'11", Lawson doesn't seem like the best choice for a game that glorifies dunking.
But he opens up the court, has a great jump shot and is a great assist man. With the added boost of jumping twice your height, Lawson should be able to dunk a bit as well. He rounds out a well-balanced three-player squad.
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This shouldn't be a surprise. Monroe is Detroit's best player, which really isn't saying a lot. The Pistons are a fairly ragtag team, but Monroe stands out.
At 6'11", you know he can dunk and make defenders look silly in the paint. He scores effectively, and he's a good rebounder. The one knock against his game is his defense, which isn't anything to write home about. Still a solid candidate for this game.
This is kind of a controversial inclusion, but let me explain myself. The Pistons got a steal with English in the second round; he was one of the best shooters available in the draft, has great mechanics, and is going to be great in replacing Ben Gordon's three-point shooting.
English will do a great job in this game of knocking down threes and opening up the floor.
Two rookies on one team? I don't know if that speaks to the quality of their draft or to the weakness of their team. It doesn't really matter.
Drummond is a physical freak and, on paper, should be capable of dominating anyone who steps in his way—which is why I'm including him on this team. In theory, Drummond is incredibly gifted physically. So he would do well in a game that essentially revolves around big men dunking.
Golden State Warriors
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David Lee was the life-force of a stacked Golden State Warriors team that just underachieved. Lee is a 6'9" power forward who averaged over 20 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Impressive stats. He also shot over 50 percent.
The theme is similar to the previous slides: high-scoring big men who can dunk. Lee fits that style perfectly.
When Curry is healthy, he can be one of the best point guards and playmakers in the game. Problem is, he's not healthy all that often. In NBA Jam, we'll assume his health is not an issue.
Having him on the court with Lee would be an excellent combo. Curry can pass, shoot, drive and create something out of nothing. He'd be a great player in this game.
Barnes was a steal for the Warriors at seventh overall, with some projecting him to go as high as second overall. Barnes showed his athleticism in summer league and should prove to be one of the best scorers in the game within a couple of years.
He has a great jumper for a big guy, but he can also take it to the hoop and jam as well as anyone. Great steal in the draft and a great addition to this game.
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Jones is one heck of a player. The Houston Rockets have taken a lot of flak for this offseason. Their sole goal was to acquire Dwight Howard, but they failed. What few fail to remember is that they had a great draft.
Terrence Jones (former Kentucky Wildcat) was an excellent pick up for this squad. He was a big-time playmaker in two very talented Wildcat squads. At 6'9", he has the size and the ability to posterize as well as great speed.
Full disclosure: This choice assumes Lin brings Linsanity to Houston in the same fashion he did to New York. Lin can score in abundance. He's a great passer and a clutch player who can drive. He'd open up the floor for some serious jams from Jones. Linsanity would be great in NBA Jam.
Royce White was also a steal in the draft and the second of Houston's two first-round picks (Jones was the other).
White is a good scorer, rebounder, passer and playmaker. Similarly to Iguodala, he can do pretty much everything. He'd be great in this game paired with Jones and Lin. The Rockets also picked up Jeremy Lamb in the draft. Three great picks for the Rockets.
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No surprise here either. Though he just became insanely overpaid, Hibbert is one of the tallest players in the league at 7'2" and plays like it. He's tough to get past in the paint, where he does most of his scoring.
Players over seven feet tall are expected to dunk, and Hibbert can do that. Abundantly. Good defense, good rebounder—he'd be great for this game.
Another big guy at 6'8", but a much more prolific scorer than Hibbert, Granger is a pretty dynamic player. He went off for 18.7 points per game last season, while also pulling up a respectable 5.0 rebounds.
Granger scores in a variety of ways, whether it's going in for a hard dunk, soft lay-up, a pullback jumper, or a three-pointer. He can do it all.
The last spot was pretty difficult to fill, but from what I hear, a lot of people are really high on Hill. He has excellent shooting capabilities and can definitely shoot from behind the arc. He would definitely be the bench player to the first two guys, but he could drain some threes in search of a comeback.
Los Angeles Clippers
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Duh. He almost makes the impossible physics of NBA Jam look possible with his outrageous dunks.
Griffin is arguably the fiercest dunker in the game. He scores a ton and is a good rebounder. He plays little-to-no defense, which is definitely a knock on him in real life, but in a video game like this, it hardly matters. He'd be one of the better players in this video game.
The best point guard in the NBA. He can shoot, he can pass, and he is, in my mind, one of the best playmakers in NBA history. His talent is crucial to the success of the Clippers, who were still a mediocre team before his arrival, even with Griffin.
In this video game, he'd obviously be used to get Blake open for dunks and perimeter shooting, but he's great at those two things. He could even dunk a few times if you wanted him to.
A great defensive player and a physical player in the paint. Like JaVale McGee, he always plays with some kind of internal anger. He swats balls away like they made a fat joke about his mother.
That won't win him too many points in NBA Jam, where defense barely matters, but he can still slam as hard as anyone. And with Paul or Griffin on the court at the same time, he'd get plenty of chances to do just that.
Los Angeles Lakers
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This is going to be the easiest slide of the entire article. First of all, Dwight Howard is obviously going to be included. He's the best center in the game, and by the time his days are done, he'll be up there with the best of all time.
As of now, he can posterize, block shots into the seats and defend as good as anyone. He's an obvious pick here.
Again, obvious. Some say he's a ball-hog, but when you can score like Kobe can, who cares?
Kobe is one of the most clutch players of all time, and that will be his value in this game. He scores in every way imaginable; his three-pointer and driving will be valuable, and his playmaking skills will be excellent. Just give the ball to Kobe.
Gasol is a very similar player to Dirk Nowitzki: a seven-foot power forward who can shoot from distance or play the post. He's a mixture of a center and a shooting guard. He's not great from behind the arc, but he'll hit one when it matters.
He's great from mid-range, and as a requirement in this slideshow, he can definitely dunk. An all-in-one type of player with size to boot.
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Rudy Gay is a solid 6'8" but an extremely explosive player. Last season he averaged 19 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, making him a key piece for an impressive Memphis team.
Like so many others in this slideshow, he has explosive power to the basket, something that is vital in NBA Jam. He's an excellent player on the court, and he'd be awesome to play as in this game.
We talked about the other Gasol brother in the previous slide, but they're pretty different players. Both are seven feet (Marc is 7'1"), but where Pau likes to spread things out a bit, Marc is much more likely to stay in the paint. He has become one of the better centers in the game with his defensive prowess. He and Gay in a two-on-two match would be tough to stop.
Okay, I know there are "better" players on the team, but the Grizzlies need someone who can hit a three coming off the bench.
Bayless is a pretty solid point guard who just hasn't really been utilized to his fullest potential yet. He played 22.7 minutes per game last season, scoring 11.4 points and dishing out 3.8 assists per game. The kicker is his 42.3 three-point percentage. He'll be valuable coming off the bench.
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Obvious, obvious, obvious. He's the best player in the game right now, and before it's all said and done, he'll be mentioned alongside Michael Jordan as the best ever.
He's the most explosive player in the game and can erupt on teams for 40 or more points. He drives to the rim and slams the ball down with intentions of causing earthquakes. He also rebounds and passes extremely well.
Bosh brings the size needed for the squad. He's not the second best player on the team, but he is the best rebounder. Plus, he can score in the paint.
Bosh is a versatile power forward able to do pretty much whatever the team needs. While his production hasn't been as good as it was in Toronto, he's still the same quality of a player. He'd be a great piece to help LeBron in a two-on-two match.
The reason I have D-Wade coming off the bench is because he's similar to LeBron and shorter. He can score however he wants to, and his ball handling skills are second to none.
He's pretty inconsistent from behind the arc, but he can hit it from anywhere inside of the three-point line. He plays much bigger than he actually is and can drive furiously to the rim, just like the two guys above.
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The Milwaukee Bucks managed to re-sign 6'10" Ilyasova, which is a good thing. He's not an insanely potent scorer (13 points in 27.6 minutes per game last season), but he is big and can definitely dunk.
He plays a good post game, and everyone needs size in this game. Ilyasova wouldn't succeed without the right pieces in a game like this, but if he gets some good help, he'll be great.
Enter Monta Ellis. It was tough choosing between Ellis and Brandon Jennings, but ultimately it had to be Ellis. He's one of the best scorers in the game (20.4 points per game last season) and he passes extremely well for a shooting guard, dishing out six assists per game last season.
He won't kill you from long distance, but he can hit a three when it counts. He'd open up the door for Ilyasova to dunk it in.
Having Henson come off the bench seems like a no-brainer. Another steal in the draft, Henson has the potential to be one of the best power forwards in the game. He plays extremely tough in the paint and blocks shots at a fantastic rate.
The NBA will soon learn that he can throw the ball down as tenaciously as anyone. An underrated pickup for the Bucks, he'd be a lot of fun to play as in this game.
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Kevin Love is a bonafide superstar. If the Minnesota Timberwolves ever manage to make it to the playoffs, he'd be a runaway MVP winner.
Last season, he averaged 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. He's not great defensively, but when you have a guy pretty much guaranteed to give you a double-double every night, you deal with it. He's hard to guard, and with the super-human powers in NBA Jam, he'd be unstoppable.
Love needs someone to pass him the ball, so why not give him the best up-and-coming passer in the game, Ricky Rubio? He dazzled us last year with his ridiculous passes and seemed to be a Rookie of the Year candidate until a season ending injury took all of the magic out of the T-Wolves.
He's not a great shooter yet, but he still has time to learn. And when you have K-Love on your team, all you need to do is pass the ball.
This is, of course, assuming that Roy comes back to being the player he was before injuries forced him to take a break from the sport.
At his height, Roy is a superstar. He can do things few other athletes in this sport can do. He can score in a variety of ways, including driving to the hoop for an occasional dunk, or 10. Given a full-recovery, injury-free season, Roy is in for a great comeback. He'd be quite fun in this game.
New Orleans Hornets
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I'm including a lot of rookies on this list. While they haven't proven themselves yet, I know at least most of them will. Davis headlined one of the best draft classes in NBA history and even earned a spot on the men's Olympic team.
He's a ridiculous defender, blocking shots at unspeakable rates, and he can throw down some bone-shattering dunks. A physical freak, he (and his unibrow) would be huge in this game. Figuratively and literally.
Gordon might not be happy to be back in New Orleans (I have no idea why), but he's still there, and he's still going to score—a lot. He only shot 25 percent from behind the arc last season (down from a career 35 percent), but he still managed to put up 20.6 points per game.
He's a decent passer, and while you rarely (if ever) see him dunk in real life, he'd be given magical shoes in NBA Jam that allow him to play like a big guy.
Few people outside of the Orlando Magic community really know who Anderson is (being overshadowed by Dwight Howard will do that). But he's actually quite a good player.
He's a solid 6'10" and put up 16.1 points per game last season. He's remarkably consistent from long range, shooting a pretty stellar 39.3 percent from behind the arc last season. He's the best of both worlds: someone who can drive and jam, or put up a three. Nice piece to have coming off the bench.
New York Knicks
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Anthony is a pretty polarizing player. He gets called arrogant, not a team player, a ball-hog, and whatever else people want to throw at him. But none of that matters in NBA Jam.
To put it bluntly, he can score a lot of points, and he can hit you from anywhere. He's an average-to-solid three-point shooter, but he can make defenders look silly when he drives to the basket and jams it down their throat.
Amare had a tough run last season. His numbers dropped. The Knicks flailed for a significant portion of the season. Then, he took himself out of several key playoff games when he cut his hand after punching glass.
Now he has something to prove in New York. In NBA Jam, he's just going to do what he does best, and that's get in the paint and score. He's surprisingly nimble for a big guy, and he'd do well in this video game.
Chandler has become one of, if not the best defensive big men in the game. I know I mentioned earlier in the article that defense doesn't matter too much in this game, but it's still important.
Chandler can score and rebound too, which helps. He has great size, quick feet, and he can dunk almost on cue. Solid resource off the bench.
Oklahoma City Thunder
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I've mentioned how a few of these picks have been obvious. Here is another.
KD is the best scorer in the game right now, winning two consecutive scoring titles. His ability to score from anywhere on the court has absolutely baffled opposing defenses. It's like he has magic in his fingers.
He's a towering 6'10" as well, so you know he can dunk, an ability he has shown quite frequently. A top-tier superstar in the game right now.
Westbrook has been criticized (notably by Skip Bayless) as a "shoot-first" point guard. Obviously something is working, as Westbrook and Durant carried the team to the NBA finals last season. It seems silly to break up what might be the best one-two punch in real life for this video game, so I won't.
Westbrook is scrappy and plays like a big guy. Not great from behind the arc, but with 23.6 points per game, I can forgive him.
I can hear the boos now for omitting James Harden. The fact is, this was one of the harder choices to make in this slideshow.
Ibaka has become one of the best defenders in the game, one of (if not the) best shot-blockers in the game, and someone who can get in the paint to score necessary buckets. Quite often with an exclamatory slam.
When you have Durant and Westbrook scoring by the dozens, you don't need Harden's scoring ability. You need Ibaka's size and defense.
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Oh boy, was this tough. In case you haven't heard, the Orlando Magic are going to be pretty bad this year.
Al Harrington is arguably the best player on the team, and while he's not bad, he's not that great either. Still, he's good for 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per game. He has decent footwork and can drive to the basket, and he can also shoot a three-pointer fairly effectively. Not bad for a 6'9" PF...but not great either.
I'm making the decision to include Redick over the more prolific Aaron Afflalo because of Redick's hot hand behind the arc.
Redick has not been given the playing time he really deserves in Orlando, and with such a talent-deficient team, this could be the year the sharp-shooter breaks out. He shot 41.8 percent from long range last year, helping to open up the court for Harrington.
Harkless has been called the rawest prospect selected in the top half of the draft, and it's hard to disagree. Still, the St. John's product has good size at 6'8", good scoring abilities, and he's able to drive to the rim effectively.
He's a high-risk, high-reward player, and I have no idea how he'll pan out in the NBA. I just refused to let myself include Glen Davis in this slideshow, so here you go, Harkless. Good luck, Orlando. As a Charlotte fan, I feel your pain.
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The Philadelphia 76ers lost an absolute stud in the mega-trade involving Dwight Howard that sent Andre Iguodala to Denver, but they picked up one of the best centers in the game in Andrew Bynum.
Bynum was a malcontent with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he should be pretty happy closer to him in Philly. In NBA Jam, he'll be every bit as talented as he is in real life, with the added bonus of jet-pack shoes. He's going to be hard to stop.
Moultrie was selected late in the first round (27th overall), but he could make a big impact for the Sixers this season. In Jam, Moultrie is exactly what you want...big (6'10") and capable of dunking hard. He played extremely well for Mississippi State last year, and I think the Sixers got a steal with him in the draft.
The one thing the Sixers really lack is three-point shooting. Jrue Holiday, their presumptive starting point guard, is the best option, shooting 38 percent from long range, which isn't bad, but it's not great either.
Still, off the bench and with a guy like Bynum in front of you, Holiday could have some value in this game. The Sixers are going to be a work in progress this season, and the only real superstar is Bynum. Wins will be team efforts, so picking three standout players is tough.
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I have to admit, I was kind of stumped about who to put first here. Then I remembered thinking Gortat put together a quietly good year last season with the Phoenix Suns, and the decision was simple.
Gortat is a 6'11" center who averaged 15.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season. Averaging a double-double is pretty impressive, and Gortat would be a great weapon in a game that lives and dies by the player's ability to dunk.
The Suns picked up two Rockets this offseason—Scola and Goran Dragic. Scola, a 6'9" Argentinian Olympian, is going to be hugely important for the Suns this season as they attempt to retool in the post-Steve Nash era.
Pretty useless from long-range, but Scola can definitely get in the paint and score. He has a great hook shot, pretty good post game and sound defense.
Okay, the decision between Marshall and Dragic was a tough one, but ultimately I had to pick Marshall because of his ability to control the floor. He's a pass-first point guard who only shoots when he needs to, but still shoots very well.
Last season with the University of North Carolina, he averaged more assists than points but still shot 46.7 percent from the field, a big part of the reason he was selected in the lottery. There's no telling how he's going to fare this season, but I think he's going to do pretty well.
Portland Trail Blazers
Aldridge is a player who doesn't get a whole lot of recognition for his achievements on the court, mostly because he plays with what has been a fairly mediocre Portland Trailblazers squad.
Still, Aldridge was good for 21.7 points and 8.0 rebounds last season, and at 6'11", you know the imposing big man can get in the paint and dunk. He doesn't have much of a jump shot, but that's okay...he obviously doesn't need it.
Lillard is being tagged as one of the preseason favorites to make a run at the Rookie of the Year award this season...rightfully so.
The point guard is a ridiculous scorer, as he proved at Weber State and in summer league. He does it from anywhere on the court. He can drive to the rim, he can nail a long three, he can do everything.
He's an impressive player, and while I'm not a huge fan of shoot-first point guards, I do believe it's what's best for Lillard, and he'd have a hot hand in NBA Jam.
Another rookie and another tough decision, I was pretty close to selecting Nicolas Batum. Ultimately, Leonard's size of 7'1" forced me to pick him. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. Maybe not this year, but soon.
The Blazers had one of the better drafts this season, and Leonard is going to be a hard player to get past in the paint. He can score and dunk like any seven-footer, he'll shoot over 50 percent, and he'll rebound super effectively. Overall, a great pick for the Blazers, and a good addition to the video game.
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Cousins is a pretty polarizing player in the NBA. When drafted, he was viewed as a player with an attitude, and many believed he was walking in shoes that were too big for him.
He's managed to tone down the attitude and shut up the haters by becoming a dominant threat in the paint. He can slam it in anyone's face, and he can take it out and take a 15-foot jumper. He averaged a double-double last year (18.1 points, 11.0 rebounds per game), and he'd be super fun to play as in a game where his already freakish abilities get a superhuman boost.
Hard to decide between Thornton and Tyreke Evans, but ultimately, Thornton's consistent scoring ability is what gets him a spot on the three-man roster. He shoots a decent three-pointer at 34.5 percent, and he averaged 18.7 points per game last season.
His one knock is that he is really a shoot-first guard, almost to a fault. He needs to improve his passing, especially with big guys like Cousins who can score easily in the paint.
Thomas Robinson was my favorite rookie in the draft this season. I was really lobbying hard for the Bobcats to draft him, and I was shocked to see him drop to fifth overall. Cleveland would have been wise to take him over Dion Waiters, but that doesn't matter.
Robinson is a hard-nosed, physical power forward who loves banging himself into the paint. He rebounds extremely well, and he can throw down some crazy dunks. In real life, move Cousins to center and have Robinson at PF, and you have a dominant frontcourt.
San Antonio Spurs
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Obviously I can't leave one of the best players of all time off this list. Duncan, the quiet giant, has put together a career that few players would be able to beat. He's one of the best big men of all time, and he seems to be showing very few signs of aging.
Still physical, still able to grab rebounds, still able to slam down some serious dunks, and perhaps most importantly, still capable of leading a very talented group of veterans.
Sorry, Tony Parker, we all know you're the better player, but Ginobili's unbelievable shooting capabilities earned him a spot on this roster. He shot a remarkable 52.6 percent from the field and a fantastic 41.3 percent from long-range.
He's also a great passer, and he and Duncan have years of charisma. Both are aging, but both are still ridiculously talented.
Full disclosure: I'm a big Blair fan, and the only reason he's here instead of Tony Parker is because he has five inches on Parker.
Blair is kind of a tweener at 6'7", but he plays very physically and has quietly been a very important piece in the Spurs puzzle. Give him full starting minutes and he could average over 15 points and eight rebounds per game.
As it is, he knows how to drive and dunk, and he shoots over 50 percent from the field. A solid bench piece behind the above two stars.
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The Toronto Raptors are getting a major boost in their frontcourt now that Valanciunas (from now on, Val) is arriving. He was drafted fifth overall in the 2011 draft but stayed in Europe for one more season. He's about to arrive and become the best big man the Raptors have.
Val's a seven-footer, and his European stats are ridiculous. He's a polished player, and he should average a double-double with the team this year, while putting up some fantastic dunks. Possible ROTY candidate as well.
Former first overall pick Bargnani has, by and large, been a pretty disappointing player, but it looks like he's finally starting to open up. He too is a seven-footer but a notoriously soft rebounder.
Still, he's been a super-reliable scorer the past three years, last season averaging 19.5 points per game. He also shot a respectable 29.5 percent from long range, which was well below his average. Another big man who can score from long-range. I've said it before, I'll say it again. An excellent commodity.
With two seven-footers in front of you, it's pretty tough coming off the bench at "only" 6'7". DeRozan put together a solid year last year, averaging 16.4 points per game. Toronto added a ton of talent this offseason, so DeRozan stands to see a pretty decent boost in his stats. He doesn't have a three-pointer, but he can kill you with drives to the rim and mid-range jumpers. Solid piece off the bench.
Another fairly unheralded big man in the game, Jefferson is a pretty fantastic player. Last season he averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game, making him one of the better centers statistically. He'd be a perfect fit in NBA Jam with the right pieces to open up the court. He can slam a ball home with a quick pass from someone, and it's a quick and entertaining two points.
Yet another big guy with the Jazz that doesn't get a whole lot of hype for whatever reason. Millsap and Jefferson combine to make a ridiculously formidable frontcourt.
Millsap gets 16.6 points 8.8 rebounds, and even the occasional three-pointer per game. He's everything you want in a game like NBA Jam...someone who goes hard at the rim and slams it home with an exclamation point. Jefferson and Millsap on the same court in a two-on-two game would be quite difficult to contain.
Tough to find a good three-point shooter on this team. Randy Foye was an option, but I ultimately decided to go with Murphy's size and outstanding college production.
He's a 6'6" SG who shot 41.6 percent from behind the arc in his final season of college. He also averaged 20.6 and 5.2 rebounds per game.
With Millsap and Jefferson in front of you, there's little reason to call on the bench, but Murphy would be able to knock down a critical three-pointer if necessary, or drive to the hoop if he wanted to.
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Nene was one of many valuable pickups the lowly Washington Wizards managed to grab this offseason, and he should do a pretty good job as a leader and as player. He's earned a reputation as a good clubhouse guy, and someone who wants to help make others better.
None of that matters in a video game, but he'd still do pretty well in NBA Jam. He has the height at 6'11", and last year he shot 53.7 percent from the field...you can bet a few of those shots were dunks.
This was the hardest decision of the slideshow. Ultimately, you really can only choose one small guy per roster spot, and picking between Wall and Bradley Beal was extremely tough. Still, I went with experience.
John Wall is on the precipice of being one of the best guards in the NBA, and his passing skills are already among the best. He doesn't have a long-range shot at all, but he can open up his teammate by driving and passing. Excellent speed, excellent passing skills, and still a capable scorer. Still, Beal's three-point shooting made this a tough choice.
This is assuming that Okafor can put together an injury-free season. In NBA Jam, again, that doesn't really matter. His production has declined over the years due to injuries and decreased talent around him, but in the midst of what should be a pretty decent team, there's no reason Okafor can't get back to averaging double-doubles.
In NBA Jam he brings great defense, great rebounding, good shot blocking and strong dunking capabilities. In real life, the Wizards are looking like the best team they've been in years.