Counting Down Which College's Current NBA Players Would Make the Best Team

Paul Knepper@@paulieknepContributor IIIMarch 1, 2013

Counting Down Which College's Current NBA Players Would Make the Best Team

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    Duke, UCLA and Kansas are three of several major college basketball programs that have sent multiple players to the NBA in recent seasons.

    Which school's current NBA players would form the best team?  

    As of opening day of the 2012-13 NBA season, the University of Kentucky had the most players on an NBA roster with 20, followed by Duke University (18), University of North Carolina (17), University of Kansas (14), University of Connecticut (12), University of California, Los Angeles (12), University of Texas (11) and University of Florida (10) (via RPIRatings.com.)

    The total numbers are significant because teams will need to fill out a roster, but the above rankings do not represent the quality of NBA players from each program. 

    The list does not take into account what phase of their careers the players are in. Some of the younger guys are still developing their games, while others are past their primes.  

    Moreover, certain schools tend to produce players at a specific position. 

    For example, Coach Calipari has pumped out a string of talented point guards at the University of Memphis and Kentucky. The school with the best team will be well-rounded, with quality players at every spot on the floor.

10. University of Arizona

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Jerryd Bayless

    SG Jason Terry

    SF Andre Iguodala

    PF Derrick Williams

    C Jordan Hill

    Bench 

    Chase Buddinger, Richard Jefferson, Luke Walton and Channing Frye

    The Wildcats lack a go-to scorer.

    Iguodala's forte is defense. He scores most of his points in transition and off of dribble penetration by other players.

    Bayless and Terry will have to create shots for themselves and their teammates.

    This Arizona squad is a bit small on the front line. Williams is a hybrid SF/PF, who has yet to find his niche in the NBA, and Hill is undersized at the 5.

    Depth would also be an issue for this team, especially down low. Buddinger will have to be the third guard, with Bayless and Terry sharing point guard duties. Walton and Jefferson are past their primes and Frye is currently sitting out the season with a heart condition.

9. University of Kansas

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Mario Chalmers

    SG Kirk Hinrich

    SF Paul Pierce

    PF Marcus Morris

    C Nick Collison

    Bench   

    Tyshawn Taylor, Josh Selby, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Markieff Morris, Thomas Robinson and Cole Aldrich

    At 35, Pierce still excels at getting the shot he wants, even when the defense knows the play is for him. He will be the Jayhawks' first option.

    The offense will tend to stagnate without a true point guard who can get into the heart of the defense.

    Chalmers is a shooting guard in a point guard's body. Hinrich is a solid professional who can play either guard position, but is no longer quick enough to get into the paint.

    Collison is an intelligent veteran who knows how to run the pick-and-roll. Kansas will need one of its young big men—either the Morris brothers or rookie Thomas Robinson—to solidify the power forward spot. Marcus Morris is the most likely starter, due to his ability to spread the floor with the three ball.

8. Wake Forest University

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    Projected Starting Five 

    PG Chris Paul

    SG Jeff Teague

    SF Josh Howard

    PF Al-Farouq Aminu

    C Tim Duncan

    Bench

    Ish Smith and James Johnson

    Wake Forest is the only school with two surefire future Hall of Famers playing in the NBA in Paul and Duncan. CP3 would be an MVP candidate this season if he had not missed 12 games due to injury, and Duncan's Spurs have the best record in the league once again.

    Teague is one of the quicker point guards in the league, and teams will not be able to keep him or Paul out of the lane.    

    Unfortunately, the Demon Deacons only have seven players in the NBA, so their starters will have to log major minutes.

    Size is another concern.

    Aminu is averaging 7.6 rebounds per game for the New Orleans Hornets, but is small for a power forward, and at 6'2'' Teague will have trouble covering shooting guards.

7. University of North Carolina

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Ty Lawson 

    SG Danny Green

    SF Marvin Williams

    PF Antawn Jamison

    C Tyler Zeller

    Bench

    Raymond Felton, Vince Carter, Harrison Barnes, Ed Davis, Tyler Hansbrough, Brandan Wright

    North Carolina lacks the star power of years past. Carter, Jamison, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace are in the twilight of their careers.

    This Tar Heels team's strength is depth. They are at least two deep at every position and can rotate in fresh bodies as Lawson pushes the tempo. The slick shooting of Green, Williams, Carter and Barnes will spread the floor, creating driving lanes for Lawson and Felton.

    This team's Achilles heel will be defense. Davis and Wright may end up playing the bulk of the minutes at the 4 and 5 in order to protect the paint.

6. University of Florida

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Bradley Beal

    SG Mike Miller

    SF Chandler Parsons

    PF Joakim Noah

    C Al Horford

    Bench

    Corey Brewer, David Lee, Udonis Haslem, Marreese Speights and Matt Bonner

    The All-Star trio of Noah, Horford and Lee will dominate teams down low. They can even play together for short stretches because of Lee and Noah's passing ability out of the high post.  

    Florida also has three great perimeter shooters in Beal, Miller and Parsons. They have the athleticism to play up-tempo, especially with Brewer in the game for Miller, and the size to grind it out in a half-court game.

    The problem is, the Gators do not have anybody to deliver their shooters and big men the ball. There is not one point guard from the University of Florida in the NBA.

    Beal, a 2-guard by trade, will play the position by default.

5. University of Connecticut

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Kemba Walker

    SG Ray Allen

    SF Rudy Gay

    PF Emeka Okafor

    C Andre Drummond

    Bench  

    A.J. Price, Richard Hamilton, Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Hasheem Thabeet

    The Huskies do not have an All-Star on their roster—Allen can no longer perform at that level—but they are solid at every position and have weapons off the bench in Butler, Gordon and Hamilton.

    Walker has elevated his game in his second season with the Charlotte Bobcats. UConn can lean on Gay down the stretch, and Okafor is capable of turning in a double-double on any given night.

    Drummond is the wild card.

    The Detroit Pistons rookie is one of the most talented big men to come into the league in the past decade, though Lawrence Frank has brought him along slowly, limiting the big man to 20 minutes per game. It remains to be seen how he will respond to a bigger role.

4. University of Texas

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG D.J. Augustin

    SG Avery Bradley

    SF Kevin Durant

    PF Tristan Thompson

    C LaMarcus Aldridge

    Bench

    Royal Ivey, Daniel Gibson, P.J. Tucker, Jordan Hamilton and Dexter Pittman

    The Longhorns boast a long and athletic front line, led by three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. They have an elite on-ball defender in Avery Bradley.

    D.J. Augustin is a below-average starting point guard, though he should thrive playing off of Durant because of his ability to knock down the three-ball. Durant has evolved into more of a playmaker, and he and Aldridge will create shots for teammates by drawing double-teams.

    UT will struggle when it goes to its bench. Gibson can knock down an open three, but there is not one player on Texas's second unit that will scare teams.

    They will be forced to go with a small lineup at times, due to a lack of big bodies.

3. University of Kentucky

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Rajon Rondo

    SG Jodie Meeks

    SF Tayshaun Prince

    PF Anthony Davis

    C DeMarcus Cousins

    Bench

    John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Patrick Patterson, Enes Kanter and Chuck Hayes

    Kentucky has produced the most NBA talent in recent years, though it is overly concentrated at one position—Rondo, Wall, Bledsoe and Knight are all point guards—and much of it is raw.

    Rondo and Wall in the same backcourt is enticing, but teams could stymie their attack by zoning up, since neither can shoot.

    Davis and Cousins could develop into a deadly combination.

    At this point, Davis is still getting acclimated to the NBA, and Cousins is as immature as they come. Kanter is another talented big man in the mix (assuming he is on the team, since he was ruled ineligible for his lone season at Kentucky), and Hayes and Patterson are serviceable forwards.

    The starting unit will be vulnerable on the wings against athletic teams. Meeks is a one-dimensional player and Prince is not as agile as he once was. Kidd-Gilchrist can bring some athleticism off the bench, though it will hurt the Cats' spacing to have him on the floor with Rondo or Wall.

2. Duke University

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    Projected Starting Five

    PG Kyrie Irving

    SG J.J. Redick

    SF Luol Deng

    PF Carlos Boozer

    C Elton Brand

    Bench

    Chris Duhon, Gerald Henderson, Shane Battier, Grant Hill, Kyle Singler, Mike Dunleavy, Corey Maggette and Josh McRoberts

    Kyrie Irving is already a superstar at 20 years old. The second-year guard plays with great pace, can shoot from the outside and breakdown a defense off the dribble. He will find Redick and Deng for open looks and get the ball to Boozer on the block.

    The Blue Devils will struggle defensively, especially in the paint. Boozer, never a good defender, has worsened with age, and Brand can no longer protect the rim.

    Deng was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team last season, but the rest of his Duke teammates are average defenders at best.

    Duke's bench is solid, though not spectacular. Duhon knows how to run an offense, Dunleavy and Singler have three-point range, Maggette and Henderson can score off the dribble, and Hill and Battier do the little things to help a team win.

1. University of California, Los Angeles

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    Projected Staring Lineup

    PG Russell Westbrook

    SG Jrue Holiday

    SF Trevor Ariza

    PF Kevin Love

    C Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

     

    Bench

    Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo, Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins

    A backcourt tandem of Westbrook and Holiday is unstoppable. 

    Both point guards can play off the ball and each can can run the pick-and-roll with Love, who can either roll to the basket for the easy two or pop out to the three-point line.

    The Bruins are small and quick, so they will push the tempo.

    Ariza, Afflalo and Barnes are high energy wings who can get up and down the floor with Westbrook and Holiday. Collison will keep the pedal to the medal when one of the starting guards needs a breather.

    Mbah a Moute is a very good post defender, despite his 6'8'' frame. But the Bruins do not have many fouls to give with Hollins as the only big body on the bench.