Where does Dwight Howard's hometown stack up against other cities across the country?
When all-things-basketball guru Alan Stein (@AlanStein) tweeted last week, "Rank, in order, the Top 10 cities that currently produce the best youth and high school basketball talent," it generated a lot of interest.
It also provided an opportunity for some in-depth, scientific analysis regarding which metropolitan areas have created the greatest basketball talent in this country over the past 10 years.
We all know about New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. But Boston? Raleigh-Durham? San Diego? Las Vegas? How legitimate are these claims to hoops prominence?
In creating lists such as this, it's sometimes difficult to separate the quality from the quantity. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has scored the most points in NBA history, but very few would consider him the greatest basketball player of all time.
The same goes with this list. Sure, the cities of Miami and Milwaukee have created many excellent NCAA basketball players, but you won't find those metro areas on this list. This is for the elite—those cities that can be relied upon every year to find an All-American at the high school level, have produced an NCAA All-American or a lottery pick in the NBA draft.
To be considered for this list, the player had to have spent most of his high school years in his hometown. This is why the metropolitan area of Baltimore-Washington D.C. can lay claim to Carmelo Anthony—not Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, which is where you will find Oak Hill Academy.
The key ingredients for consideration as an elite player include: USA Today All-USA team, McDonald's All-American, AP NCAA first and second teams and where the player landed in the NBA draft—if at all.
Oh, and the player had to have been in high school for the 2000-01 season.
Many of the cities will not surprise you. The order in which they rank, however, may raise some eyebrows.
*Note: There are hundreds of players not mentioned in this article who were used for statistical purposes. Only the higher-profile names are mentioned.
Blake Griffin isn't the only elite player from OKC
With eight NBA draft picks and three McDonald's All-Americans within the past decade, Orlando barely sneaks into the list. Check back in a year or two and Austin Rivers may be the second lottery pick from this area, joining Amare Stoudemire.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
For those not following national hoops at the high-school level, this may be a bit surprising. But with four NBA lottery picks since 2001, Oklahoma City easily surpasses cities like Boston, Detroit and St. Louis. Xavier Henry, Blake Griffin, Shelden Williams and Ekpe Udoh join four other NBA draft picks for OKC.
11 NBA draftees, eight first-rounders and four lottery picks isn't enough to put Indianapolis in the top 10. Anchored by players like Greg Oden, Eric Gordon, Mike Conley and Gordon Hayward, Indy also boasts two additional McDonald's All-Americans: Josh McRoberts and Chris Thomas.
Other cities that were better than most:
Baton Rouge, Cincinnati/Dayton, Detroit, Fresno, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Mouth of Wilson, Nashville, New Orleans, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Winston-Salem.
With seven McDonald's All-Americans and six NBA lottery selections, Philly only makes it to the 10th spot on this list. Going all the way back to Dajuan Wagner, this city also has produced Wayne Ellington, Tyreke Evans, Gerald Henderson and Hakim Warrick.
With Rakeem Christmas taking his talents to Syracuse, Philadelphia has a chance to move up on this list as it is just slightly behind the next few cities.
Houston has contributed nine McDonald's All-Americans, four first-round picks and two lottery selections over the past 10 years. With T.J. Ford and Omeka Okafor leading the way, those two are joined by Ndudi Ebi, Daniel Gibson and Dexter Pittman.
12 players from Houston have been drafted into the NBA.
New York and Houston are a statistical tie, but New York has put two more players into the NBA.
It could probably be said that if this list were compiled a decade or two ago, NYC would probably be in the top three. There are certainly many factors as to why New York doesn't contribute as it once did in terms of basketball talent (politics, economy, etc.), but there are still reasons to celebrate it as the basketball mecca.
Over the last 10 years, New York has given us nine McDonald's All-Americans yet only three NBA lottery picks—the second-lowest on this list. Sebastian Telfair, Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon are the backbone of New York hoops lately. Those three are joined by solid players like Julius Hodge, Lance Stephensen, Danny Green and Allan Ray.
New York has had a total of 14 players drafted into the NBA.
With as many NBA lottery selections as Houston and New York combined, Seattle has vaulted itself into one of the premier areas producing basketball talent. Although only 12 players have been drafted into the NBA, they have been high-quality.
Marvin Williams, Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Rodney Stuckey are just a few of the representatives of the Seattle area. Joined by Aaron Brooks, Peyton Siva and Terrence Williams, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of talent anytime soon.
Others: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Martell Webster, Spencer Hawes.
With the third-most McDonald's All-Americans on the list (13), this New Jersey area has produced talents such as J.R. Smith, Andrew Bynum, Randy Foye and Kyrie Irving.
Only 10 of the region's players have made it to the NBA, four of them being lottery picks. Other players of note: Samardo Samuels, Earl Clark, Samuel Dalembert.
*Although some people do consider the Newark-Jersey City area as a part of the larger New York City Metropolitan area, for the purposes of this story, it was felt best that the pride of New Jersey be kept separate.
Atlanta has the benefit of being the city with the third-most second-round NBA draft picks over the last 10 years—nine.
Atlanta also boasts 12 McDonald's All-Americans and 17 total players drafted into the NBA, including three lottery picks: Dwight Howard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Derrick Favors.
Other notable names from the ATL: Javaris Crittenton, Chris Singleton and Jodie Meeks.
While Dallas has only had 13 players drafted into the NBA, a second-best seven of them have been lottery selections: Chris Bosh, Anthony Randolph, LeMarcus Aldridge, Deron Williams, Ike Diogu, Acie Law and Wesley Johnson.
Dallas has also had 10 McDonald's All-Americans, including Darrell Arthur, Willie Warren, Bracey Wright, C.J. Miles and Jason Maxiell.
Chicago, along with the next two cities, should come as no surprise. With 17 players drafted into the NBA, along with 12 McDonald's All-Americans, Chicago is more than just Derrick Rose and Eddy Curry.
The two other lottery picks from Chi-town are Julian Wright and Evan Turner.
22 players from Chicago fit the criteria for this analysis. Other names of note: Shannon Brown, Sherron Collins, Dee Brown, Sean Dockery, Luther Head and JaVale McGee.
When this project was being formulated, it was thought that the D.C./Baltimore area would be comparable with Chicago and New York. It wasn't even close. The D.C. area has significantly more talent than the previous cities mentioned, which was quite surprising—although probably not surprising to those in the D.C. area.
24 NBA draft picks. Six lottery selections and 14 McDonald's All-Americans. 34 total players who fit the criteria.
Carmelo Anthony. Rudy Gay. Kevin Durant. Michael Beasley. Ty Lawson. Delonte West. Jarrett Jack. Josh Boone. Jeff Green. Joe Alexander.
Not too often could an NBA-caliber All-Star team come from just one city.
Those names not enough for you? How about Donte Green, Scottie Reynolds, Roy Hibbert and Greivis Vasquez.
However, D.C has absolutely nothing on this city...
Los Angeles blows away the competition in every category:
20 McDonald's All-Americans
38 total NBA draft picks
Eight lottery picks
14 first-round picks
Derrick Williams. Paul George. Russell Westbrook. James Harden. Josh Childress. DeMar DeRozan. Brandon Jennings. Tyson Chandler. And those are just the lottery picks.
There are a few dozen others worth mentioning, but here are a few: Jrue Holiday, Kawhi Leonard, Aaron Afllolo, Trevor Ariza, Bobby Jones, Austin Daye, Taj Gibson and Jordan Hamilton.
Los Angeles has the benefit of being the largest populated metropolitan area, thus it's not too surprising that many of the elite players come from this area.
It could be argued that the Newark-New York metropolitan areas should be combined, and many government agencies do in fact recognize this. But keep in mind that Los Angeles would still be No. 1 for this list.
It also makes one wonder why cities such as Phoenix, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Tampa, and St. Louis aren't producing similar talent.
Maybe they will be in the next 10 years.