If you were to start an NBA franchise today, which player would you select first?
I decided to tackle this question to see who would be selected where if every current player in the NBA was available in a dispersal draft.
This topic came about during a discussion I had with a friend over the prospects of Derrick Rose. And this was before his dazzling debut in the NBA Playoffs versus Boston.
We were wondering whether Rose would be drafted in the top 10 if every GM in the NBA was able to select players in a pool of NBA players.
During the creation of this list, there was strong consideration given to age and injury history of the players available. Seeing as how Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan seem to be hitting the wall, or at the very least struggling with bad knees, it seems that at about the 1,000-career games mark (including the Playoffs), a steep decline occurs.
With that as the backdrop, if I were representing the GMs in the NBA, this is who would go in my top 12:
1. LeBron James
2. Dwight Howard
The top four is an extremely difficult group to separate, but the opportunity to grab a freakish center at age 23 is too tough to pass up. His defensive presence in the middle helps too.
3. Chris Paul
He barely beats out Dwyane Wade, but gets the nod due to the nature of his position at point guard as well as the fact that he is four years younger than Wade. To get a guy who has increased his scoring average every season and also averages over 11 assists per game is extremely appealing.
4. Dwyane Wade
"Flash" is quite possibly the best finisher in the game. After a down season, he's come back with a vengeance following the Redeem Team's gold medal victory in this past summer's Olympics. But his age, 27, and a history of some knee injuries keep him at No. 4.
5. Kobe Bryant
Kobe is an assassin and the best closer in the NBA. Considered the best overall player in the NBA since Michael Jordan left the league, the "Mamba" will start to see some diminishing returns within the next two to three years. If this draft was for one year only, he would battle LeBron for the top spot.
6. Kevin Durant
Maybe the most intriguing prospect to come into the NBA in many years, Durant has offensive skills that are matched by very few, if any, in the league. At 6'9", Durant can dribble and shoot like a guard and will only get better.
He still needs to get stronger and work on his defense, but consider that in only his second NBA season, Durant averaged 25.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.8 APG while shooting a staggering 43 percent from three-point land.
Oh yeah: He's only 20 years old.
7. Brandon Roy
A younger version of Paul Pierce, the solid Roy has come into his own in only his third season and has helped carry the Trail Blazers to the Playoffs. He has shown a knack for playing even better in crunch time and hit his share of game winners in 2009.
8. Chris Bosh
Big men are always difficult to find and are considered a precious commodity in the NBA. The biggest knock on Bosh is the fact that he is considered “soft” and needs to add a mean streak in order to carry his team.
9. Deron Williams
This steady point guard has seen a rise in both his points and assists per game since he came into the NBA four seasons ago. If not for Chris Paul, Williams would be considered the best point guard in the league.
10. Derrick Rose
Rose is a 20-year-old point guard who can penetrate at will and has an NBA body to handle the punishment at the rim. An effective floor general is extremely valuable in the NBA, and Rose has shown the ability to lead his team.
11. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk is approaching the 900-game mark but hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. Nowitzki puts up consistent scoring and rebounding numbers and is a walking mismatch for defenders. No seven-footer has ever displayed these kind of offensive skills.
The only issue with the Big German is that Dallas has failed to win it all, and Dirk has struggled in various postseasons.
12. Danny Granger
Granger has all the scoring ability in the world and is quickly turning into one of the best small forwards in the NBA. He still flies under the radar, but after averaging over 25 PPG this season, he's starting to get noticed. The next step is to lead his team to the Playoffs; that will allow him to make the leap to stardom.
Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming, Tony Parker, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudamaire, Pau Gasol, Al Jefferson, Kevin Martin, LaMarcus Aldridge
Those listed above all can make good cases to be included in the top 12, but the toughest omissions were Carmelo, Yao, and Al Jefferson.
Carmelo didn’t make the cut because he seems to have regressed since he made a splash his rookie season, and his off-court issues are troubling. In addition, Denver has not advanced far in any postseason appearance with Anthony on the roster.
With Yao, it was tough to leave him out, as his size and defense are tremendous. However, he has had major injury issues the last few seasons and has only played more than 57 games once in the last four campaigns.
Jefferson is a really difficult case because, again, he is a low post player and has put up some solid numbers the last two seasons. But also like Yao, Jefferson can’t stay healthy and has only played one full season his entire career.