While the relevant question during the 2011-12 basketball season concerned the Kentucky Wildcats and Charlotte Bobcats, we're no longer dealing with a transcendently good college basketball team and a historically awful NBA squad.
This year, the question at hand is at least a little bit more relevant: Can a team comprised of collegiate All-Stars hang with—and even beat—the Washington Wizards?
The short answer is that a game between those two units wouldn't even be close. The Wizards, despite the fact that they've supplanted the Bobcats in the fight for the cellar spot in The Association, still stand head and shoulders above the best that college basketball has to offer.
And yes, I'm talking about the version of the Wizards that lost to the Indiana Pacers 96-89 on Nov. 19 to fall to 0-9 on the season. You know, the one without Nene Hilario and John Wall.
Even without its two best players, Washington still possesses a 12-man lineup filled with former college standouts and high draft picks.
Take a look at the per-game stats for these guys during their final seasons in the ranks of collegiate basketball (via Sports-Reference.com/cbb/)
Other than Earl Barron and the host of players who either bypassed the various universities around the country for the promise of the NBA draft or came to the premier league from foreign ones, everyone on this roster excelled at the lower level of the sport.
Just two years ago, Chris Singleton was putting the finishing touches on a career that saw him enter the argument concerning the best defensive player in ACC history. Last year, Bradley Beal was an absolute stud, capable of putting together this highlight reel in just a single season at Florida.
Beal has made seven starts in the Wizards' first nine games, but Singleton is struggling for playing time. Making the transition from collegiate All-Star to NBA player is difficult, but each of these players has proven that they deserve to be on a professional roster.
Using B/R's preseason All-American teams to form this hypothetical college All-Star squad, which players would even earn playing time right now?
And remember, we're looking at this with an approach that NBA organizations don't take. Potential doesn't matter at all, so this is purely a meritocracy. If a player is slightly worse than his veteran counterpart but his potential is through the roof, he isn't going to earn playing time because he isn't the better player right now.
At the guard spots, we're looking at Trey Burke, Peyton Siva, Shabazz Muhammad and Isaiah Canaan, who are projected by Draft Express to go at No. 25, undrafted, No. 1 and No. 45, respectively, in the 2013 NBA draft.
If I'm the coach of a team that can draw from both the Wizards roster and our hypothetical guard pool, I'd be starting A.J. Price and Muhammad, with Jordan Crawford and Beal serving as the first two guards off the bench.
Price's name might not have the glamor associated with it that Burke's, Siva's and Canaan's do, but he's simply a better basketball player right now. And that's the key.
So how about forwards?
Our hypothetical forwards would be Doug McDermott, Deshaun Thomas, James Michael McAdoo and C.J. Leslie, projected at No. 40, No. 41, No. 5 and No. 15, respectively by that same Draft Express mock draft.
McAdoo is good enough to push Jan Vesely out of the starting five, but Trevor Ariza is definitely staying put. Then again, because of his defense, Chris Singleton would be starting over Vesely with potential removed from the equation, and McAdoo isn't knocking him out of the lineup.
At center, Cody Zeller and Nerlens Noel, two of the projected top-three picks, would be on the roster, but Emeka Okafor would take both of their lunch money, even at 30 years old. Quite frankly, he'd take their lunch money, eat lunch and still have enough energy to eat both of them too.
Even without breaking down the roster, it's fairly obvious that the Wizards would wipe the floor with this All-Star team.
The difference-maker is experience. College basketball is played differently than the NBA game, and veterans in The Association understand the game at a much higher level. They have more experience running plays, recognizing offensive and defensive sets and simply playing for 48 minutes.
Three or four years down the road, this made-up collegiate team might turn the tides and embarrass the current version of the Wizards, but only when they have NBA experience under their belts. These kids are still maturing, growing and improving their on-court skills.
Don't get caught up in the glamor and glitz associated with the names of college basketball standouts. They aren't NBA players yet, much less NBA starters.
"These guys are good" might be the slogan for the PGA Tour, but it applies to the NBA as well.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!