Every NBA Team's Most Versatile Player Entering 2016-17 Training Camp
The age of the NBA specialist is over.
As positional designations blur, the call for multiskilled players is louder than ever. Ruthless schemes—NBA coaches increasingly looking to pick off the sickest and weakest of the pack, especially in the playoffs—often render one-dimensional talents unplayable.
Can't shoot? Get ready for the opponent to ignore you on the perimeter and use five defenders on your remaining four teammates.
Can't defend the pick-and-roll? Prepare to get put through the ringer for a dozen straight possessions.
Versatility is both a weapon and defense mechanism in today's NBA. A well-rounded player allows coaches to employ various styles while ideally permitting good spacing. It also prevents opponents from targeting weak points.
True do-it-all talents contribute in various ways on both ends—handling, shooting, passing, defending multiple positions. But not every team has someone like Draymond Green. In addition to the obvious options (such as the one the Golden State Warriors rely on to close games at center), we'll list the top Swiss army talent on every squad.
Atlanta Hawks: Paul Millsap
One option for kicking off a 30-slide versatility behemoth is digging deep into the roster of our first entry, searching for hidden skills and highlighting a relatively unsung multitalented hero.
Another option: Just pick the only guy in the league who averaged at least nine rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks last year.
Thus, Paul Millsap is one of the easiest selections we'll come across. He's quick enough to harass wings on the perimeter and strong enough to bang down low with much bigger bodies. He has a track record of solid perimeter shooting, though his percentage from deep dipped to 31.9 percent in 2015-16 after topping 25 percent during each of the two previous seasons.
He can pass, he can score inside, he plays hard, and he's a leader. That about covers it.
Millsap remains one of the league's most underappreciated stars. He posted stats nobody equaled last year—not LeBron James. Not Green. Nobody.
That was easy.
Boston Celtics: Jae Crowder
In a league where everyone wants hybrid forwards who can stretch the floor on offense, Jae Crowder's value skyrockets.
Why? Because he's the guy built to stop them.
"Crowder has the strength to keep such opponents from overpowering him down low, the mobility to stay with them on the perimeter and exceptionally quick hands," ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton wrote. "Crowder finished fifth among forwards in all-defensive voting, one point behind Paul George for a spot on the second team."
The Boston Celtics 6'6" forward would be the pick here on the strength of his defensive chops alone, but he can also attack the basket, knock down spot-up threes and get the ball moving in transition.
Not that it necessarily matters for our purposes, but Crowder is also on one of the most team-friendly deals out there (five years, $35 million). If cost-efficiency counted as its own attribute, Crowder might be the most versatile player in the league.
Brooklyn Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Twenty-nine career games and a very shaky outside shot make second-year Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a pretty big unknown. But on a team as bereft of talent as the Nets, we can almost count his wild-card status as a versatility point in his favor.
Mysteriousness is kind of its own skill, if you think about it.
Here are some others of note, via Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer:
When you are as good an athlete as Hollis-Jefferson, you don’t need a jumper to impact the game. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Hollis-Jefferson is a physical marvel who tested out as one of the three fastest players at the 2015 draft combine. He is longer than most big men and faster than most guards.
Figuring out how to use a talent like that is tricky. The Nets almost have to give him the ball so defenses can't just ignore him as a spot-up threat, and Hollis-Jefferson's experience as a facilitator is limited. Still, with boundless defensive potential, extreme athleticism and a surprisingly accurate mid-range shot (RHJ hit 63.6 percent of his attempts from 10-16 feet and 40.6 percent from 16-23 feet, per Basketball-Reference.com), there's scoring upside in the package.
Behold, Nets supporters: a reason to care!
Charlotte Hornets: Nicolas Batum
Nicolas Batum may have had his best season last year, though you could argue the superior effective field-goal percentages he posted in, say, 2011-12 or even 2013-14 mean he was a bit of a volume contributor.
Thing is, Batum's versatility was the reason his effective field-goal percentage was "only" 50.6 percent in 2015-16 (it was 53.4 in 2011-12 and 56.6 in 2013-14). His skills as a ball-handler meant he facilitated more for the Charlotte Hornets last year than he ever had before—his career-high 5.8 assists are a testament to that.
The downside was that Batum had to create his own shots more frequently, and those tend to be less efficient than the ones set up by others. For example, Batum shot a lower percentage of his threes from the corner than ever before, and only 78.4 percent of his triples were assisted. Earlier in his career, his threes were assisted at rates as high as 98 percent.
He simply had more offensive responsibilities last season, and he handled them well on balance. Throw in solid wing defense (even if Batum's been a bit overrated in that regard for a while), and you've got the Hornets' most versatile player.
Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler
Yet another case of "most versatile" basically meaning "best"...
Not only is Jimmy Butler easily the Chicago Bulls' most versatile talent, but he's probably a reliable three-point shot away from being one of the half-dozen most multiskilled athletes in the league, period. After rising to 37.8 percent from distance in 2014-15, his three-point percentage slipped to 31.2 last year.
Maybe he'll split the difference this season.
In addition to a career-high scoring average of 20.9 points per game last season, Butler took a leap as a playmaker, upping his assist percentage to a personal best 21.4 percent. He gets to the foul line at will, defends wings as well as anyone not named Paul George or Kawhi Leonard (when engaged) and can always be counted on to contribute big minutes.
And that's not even counting his NFL-caliber receiving skills.
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James
So...do we really need justification for this one?
Even if you want to poke at LeBron James' dwindling perimeter accuracy, there's no way to credibly argue he's anything less than the NBA's most versatile player. Besides, it's not as if a wayward jumper makes him any easier to handle; he can get to the rim whenever he wants.
A point forward who rebounds, passes, attacks the bucket, defends when necessary and generally does more good basketball things than anyone else, James' combination of size (6'8", 250 lbs), strength and speed is unparalleled—even as his physical tools are declining.
As he slows down in the coming years, James could easily play minutes at center. I mean, just wait until he gets his old-man strength. No post-up threat will ever be able to move him on the block, and when he conducts the offense from the perimeter like a point guard, no opponent will have an answer.
None ever has, really.
James has Chris Paul's vision in Karl Malone's body.
He is, as ever, unfair.
Dallas Mavericks: Andrew Bogut
Wesley Matthews has a reputation as a three-and-D player, which suggests he's at least a double threat. He can also punish smaller guards on the block, which adds another valuable trait to his game. But Matthews still isn't the same guy he was before his Achilles tear in 2015, and we've been wing-heavy in this thing so far.
So how about Andrew Bogut?
Granted, Bogut is defined as much by his limitations as anything else. He's a poor free-throw shooter whose aversion to being fouled has resulted in an offensive approach that could basically be termed "hiding." He showed what the more aggressive version of his game looks like in the Olympics, but as an NBA player, Bogut rarely attacks the goal, avoids contact and overpasses routinely.
But he's also a brilliant passer—one of the best in the world for his size (7'0", 260 lbs). He's creative and aggressive, and can be the fulcrum of an excellent offense as long as he's got smart cutters and good shooters around him. The Warriors ran much of their offense through him during his tenure in Golden State.
Bogut defends, too: He's one of the top rim protectors in the league, and when his body's right, he covers the entire lane as well as anyone. According to Nylon Calculus' stats, only four other players saved more points per 36 minutes at the rim than him in 2015-16.
Imperfect? Yes, but Bogut does a lot of things you want from a big man and a few things you'd only expect from a guard. On a Dallas Mavericks team loaded with one-dimensional options, that makes him stand out.
Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic
Both Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler can do a handful of different things, but when historic numbers stare you right in the face, you've got to make the obvious call: The Denver Nuggets' most versatile player is center Nikola Jokic.
There are five player seasons in NBA history that equaled or exceeded Jokic's rookie true-shooting, rebound and assist percentages, per Basketball-Reference.com (major h/t to Kelly Scaletta's post at Today's Fastbreak): Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1977-78, Charles Barkley in 1986-87, Barkley again in 1992-93, Kevin Garnett in 2005-06 and Kevin Love in 20131-14.
Jokic takes apart smaller defenders in the post, can shoot out to the three-point line, passes as well as any center in the league and presents opponents with no-win situations as a dive man in the pick-and-roll.
His rim-protection potential is limited by a lack of vertical lift, and he's not quick enough to guard most power forwards. But with uncanny court sense and youth on his side (Jokic is only 21), he should find ways to improve on D.
Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson
The safe pick in a mostly conventional Detroit Pistons bunch might be Tobias Harris, who can score from just about anywhere and has the size (6'9", 235 lbs) to defend either forward position.
But Stanley Johnson profiles as an intriguing ball-handler on the wing who could eventually guard three spots. However, Johnson hasn't proved to be a reliable shooter, and he's still a long way from holding his own against power forwards—something he'd have to do well to really reach his ceiling.
All the same, he's got the body (6'7", 246 lbs) and athleticism to fill that hybrid forward role, and he's been working on those rough edges in the offseason. He told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
I’m practicing going left, practicing coming off of ball-screens and shooting threes, practicing catching-and-shooting and practicing team defense. Those are some of the things that I’m focused on. … I’m a lot more confident. The work that I’ve done this summer has me feeling like I’ll be able to score from all three levels very efficiently and defend.
So the winner is Johnson, though it's admittedly a speculative play.
Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green
The best center in the league last year actually started at power forward, was generously listed at 6'7", averaged 7.4 assists per game and shot 38.8 percent from three-point range while capably defending five positions.
He also led the break like a guard, hauled in 9.5 rebounds per game and blew up play after play with preternatural help instincts on defense.
He was an All-Star and a gold medalist, and came in second in Defensive Player of the Year voting...for the second year in a row.
Other than that, Draymond Green is pretty limited.
Houston Rockets: Trevor Ariza
This is one of our first by-default picks, as Trevor Ariza might be the only player on the Houston Rockets roster who actually handles himself reasonably well on both ends.
There's a case to be made for James Harden's versatility; he can score in virtually every way and sees the floor well as a passer. But the whole "defense" thing is hard to ignore.
Ariza is a strong standstill three-point shooter who hit 37.1 percent of his treys last year, but that's pretty much all he does offensively. A remarkable 58.1 percent of his shots came from deep in 2015-16, and that number was actually even higher the year before.
He doesn't pass it well and rarely gets to the foul line, though he's still spry enough to be a viable threat as a transition finisher. But it's on defense where Ariza's terrific length still shows flashes of his shutdown past. At 31, he's a defender more by reputation than by production, though Houston's disinterested approach to stopping opponents last year made everyone look a little worse.
He is also very good at dunking horizontally, as pictured above. That should count for something.
Indiana Pacers: Paul George
Based on their current roster construction, the Indiana Pacers could still utilize Paul George at the 4 for long stretches this year. Thaddeus Young will start at the position, but there's room for PG-13 to slide up a spot with only Lavoy Allen, Jeremy Evans and maybe Kevin Seraphin likely to see time there.
Even if George doesn't play any power forward at all, he's still the Pacers' most versatile weapon.
One of the very best perimeter defenders in the league, George is also an unquestioned No. 1 option on offense. He's not an efficiency monster, as his career field-goal percentage is just 42.5 percent, but he's reliable from long range, which helps. And though somewhat turnover-prone, George is a decent passer who matched a career best with 4.1 assists per game last season.
Offensively, George is a spot-up shooter who can't be ignored, a strong attacker who draws fouls, a powerful finisher in transition and a good enough passer to punish opponents who dial in on him.
All that and top-notch wing defense make him the easy choice.
Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin
Furrow your brow about his waning bounce and suspect defense all you want; it doesn't matter.
There aren't many devastating roll men who can also hit perimeter shots, and there are even fewer who could conceivably run an offense as a point guard. That's what Blake Griffin is: a fantastic finishing option who also handles the ball and sees the floor well enough to run pick-and-rolls whenever his days of finishing them end.
There are real concerns about how Griffin's game will age, sure. Just over 6 percent of his field goals were dunks during his abbreviated 2015-16 season. Back in his peak jamming days (2011-12), more than 20 percent of his made shots were slams. The downward trend is real.
But again, Griffin has backup options.
His assist percentage climbed to a career-best 27.2 percent last year, and though he hasn't been a high-volume chucker, his combined three-point percentage over the last two seasons is a better-than-average 37.2 percent.
Griffin is changing, but versatility is the reason he's still a star.
Los Angeles Lakers: Luol Deng
The Los Angeles Lakers are a tough one. Most of their players are either single-use types or, in the case of their many young pieces, unproven in any category.
Jordan Clarkson can handle both backcourt positions, but being a combo guard doesn't necessarily equate to versatility. Julius Randle might someday be a dangerous 3-4 hybrid, but until his broken jumper gets fixed, he's just a 4 who takes bad perimeter shots.
That leaves the 31-year-old Luol Deng, who proved last season with the Miami Heat that the final act of his career involves playing power forward. With Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. on board (plus rookie Brandon Ingram), there may not be much time available at the 4, but Deng can guard the position while stretching defenses out to the three-point line.
A fair rebounder (six per game last season) who won't stop the ball on offense, Deng is basically adequate at everything and great at nothing. That's a compliment, by the way.
Like Joe Johnson (35 years old) and some other aging wings, he's staying relevant by moving his across-the-board contributions up a position.
Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol
Versatility isn't exactly in the Memphis Grizzlies' makeup. A team long defined by its resistance to newfangled ideas like the three-point shot and dynamic offense, the Grizz lack multiposition talent and may be even shorter on two-way players.
So let's go with Marc Gasol, whose mobility might be compromised after breaking his foot last year but whose career so far also proves you can do a lot of damage standing still.
Gasol has never been quick, but he's smart, sees the floor well and leverages his size to anchor the floor on both ends for the Grizzlies. Like our other center picks—Bogut and Jokic—Gasol dices up defenses with his passing. When ignored at the elbow, he's automatic. And when he gets positioned underneath, he's too strong and skilled to stop.
Defensively, Gasol is all short shuffles and timing, and he's used those skills to build a sterling defensive reputation that, even when his quickness dissipated before injury last year, felt justified.
You'll never see Gasol playing anywhere but center, but the variety of talents he brings to that one position makes him special.
Miami Heat: Chris Bosh
We still don't know if Chris Bosh's health will allow him to play this year, but we used up our speculative pick on the Pistons' Stanley Johnson, so doing the same thing with Justise Winslow feels redundant.
Besides, mentioning Bosh here might somehow send positive vibes into the universe and result in him staying healthy enough to resume his Hall of Fame career.
You might say the most obvious element of Bosh's multifaceted game is his ability to be a star or a role player. He was the former with the Toronto Raptors, then the latter during the LeBron era in Miami. And now, hopefully, he'll be the former again.
Whether alpha dog or third option, Bosh has produced. He's made 11 straight All-Star teams.
Beyond embracing that rare duality, Bosh also happens to be a 6'11" center with legitimate three-point range and the ability to attack closeouts off the dribble. He's unselfish, makes his free throws and sells ties as a side business.
What else could you want?
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Let's see: Do the Milwaukee Bucks have any other 6'11" point guards who "can guard smalls and bigs," as head coach Jason Kidd said, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?
Is there someone hiding on the end of the bench who, with a little more weight, could viably play all five positions?
There's no one else in the league, let alone on the Bucks, who has that profile and that unfathomable untapped potential.
Great. Then Giannis Antetokounmpo is the pick.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns
If there's anything to criticize about Karl-Anthony Towns' swing, it's that he lets his hips fly open a little early, which can sometimes lead to a hitter pulling off the ball. You don't want that at all; it takes the swing off plane, shortens the amount of time the barrel stays in the hitting zone and makes it almost impossible to get inside the ball. Keep it up, and you can kiss your ability to generate opposite-field power goodbye, KAT.
He won the home run derby at a University of Kentucky charity event in August anyway. And I guess maybe we're missing the point if we're discussing Towns' baseball limitations.
The reigning Rookie of the Year (unanimous, of course) is poised to leap into the NBA's upper echelon.
Towns is the most complete big man prospect in decades, with a twist: He can defend smalls on the perimeter, which effectively destroys the advantage of generating a switch on the pick-and-roll. Three-point accuracy, one of the NBA's most precise mid-range shots, a post game, rim protection, slick passing, a handle no center should have...Towns does everything.
But anyway, he really needs to load his hips and stay back on the inside pitch...
New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis
The idea of Tyreke Evans is versatile because, in theory, he's got small forward size and a point guard's game. In practice, Evans kind of just pounds the ball and drives into the lane with no plan, and he's not any good on defense.
So let's put him aside.
Maybe the drama of this thing is waning with so many stars taking the honors, but the New Orleans Pelicans' entry has to be Anthony Davis. Has to be.
Even in a mostly disappointing 2015-16, Davis was the only guy in the league to average at least 24 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. He also shot over 100 threes after only trying a dozen in 2014-15. At 32.4 percent, the Brow knocked them down at a rate the rest of the league should consider terrifying for his first moderate-volume season.
Towns has the buzz now, but there's still a real scenario in which Davis retakes his place as the NBA's next dominant superstar. A return to defensive excellence and a little more offense generated on his own will go a long way toward restoring AD to glory. Even if nothing changes, he's still New Orleans' most multitalented weapon.
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
The choice here is really between Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis.
Unfortunately for the Latvian megaprospect, Anthony's well-rounded game (offensively at least) is fully formed. Porzingis' is still mostly prospective: KP may someday obliterate the offensive boards, shoot 40 percent from three and attack opposing centers from the perimeter.
If that happens, he'll be the New York Knicks' most versatile threat and a unique talent in the league.
Until then, Anthony remains a brutally tough one-on-one cover who can hit from distance, dominate on the block and force opponents into fouling with an endless array of contact-drawing tricks. Though he'll always be known as a scorer, Melo can find open teammates when given time, and he slides easily between forward spots.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook
There were 75 triple-doubles in the NBA last year, and Russell Westbrook had 18 of them. So if your definition of versatility is anchored to the catch-all achievement that has long symbolized a well-rounded game, you could say Russ is the league's most multiskilled player.
You'd probably be wrong, of course, but you'd encounter no resistance when saying he occupies that spot as far as the Oklahoma City Thunder are concerned.
OKC is riddled with guys known for one-dimensional contributions: Andre Roberson only defends, Anthony Morrow only shoots threes and Enes Kanter only scores inside.
Westbrook, statistically, makes an impact in virtually every area. It would be nice if his defense were more consistent or if he could guard forwards, but that's asking a lot from someone who already does so much.
Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon
It is with great sadness that we highlight Aaron Gordon's flexible game—a leaping, loping, lunging game described thusly by Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver: "[Gordon] puts his leaping ability and high activity level to good use in myriad ways, pursuing second-chance points, clearing the defensive glass, skying for the occasional weak side help block and even pushing the pace in transition by himself occasionally."
What's sad about that?
Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo joining the Orlando Magic. That's what.
Those two are going to play big minutes, and Nikola Vucevic is still a fixture at center, too. So that leaves little room for Gordon to utilize his physical talents at the 4. It's like the Magic are trying to stifle his growth.
We'll still get plenty of highlights, and it's possible more time at small forward will force Gordon to develop his three-point shot sooner. But there's no getting around the truth: Everything the springy talent does is more valuable at power forward, and he may not get much of a chance to prove it.
Philadelphia 76ers: Gerald Henderson
Ben Simmons can't/won't shoot outside the lane, has zero track record of defending any position and may or may not be a passable rebounder at the NBA level. That's the present scouting report, though Simmons' undeniable court sense and physical tools could easily make that a joke in three years.
Chances are, he'll be a dynamic star eventually. But at the moment, the only things we're sure he does well are handle the ball and pass.
Gerald Henderson is an athletic wing who can bury threes from the corners (he shot 44.4 percent from there last year and has hit at least 41 percent in each of the past three seasons), attack the basket in transition and guard three positions. There were times last season when the Portland Trail Blazers excelled using Henderson as a small power forward.
The Philadelphia 76ers are pretty stacked in the frontcourt (some might call it a logjam, actually), but Henderson still has plenty to offer on the wing and as a leader.
Simmons is the sexier choice; Henderson's game is just more pliable at present.
Phoenix Suns: Jared Dudley
The Washington Wizards actually gave spot minutes at center to Jared Dudley last season, which was mostly desperate but also partly illuminating: Dudley, a small forward in size and three-point percentage (he's at 39.9 percent for his career), has developed into the kind of 6'7" player who can sometimes play the 5.
He's far better as a power forward, which is where the Phoenix Suns figure to slot him during his second tour there. But if the Suns want to get creative with groups that include both Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss or Tyson Chandler and Alex Len, Dudley can capably move back down to the 3.
Defensively, he makes up in smarts what he lacks in foot speed. And on the other end, Dudley is an underrated passer with good feel and the sort of heft that makes him hard to move on the block.
Far from a star, Dudley's adaptability makes him valuable to good teams in need of some positional flex. And hey, maybe he'll help the Suns, too.
Portland Trail Blazers: Evan Turner
Shouts out to Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, who need to show us reliable three-point strokes and a little more shot creation to warrant consideration.
The Blazers could be in business if we see some growth/stability from those two.
As it stands now, Portland's most versatile player is probably Evan Turner, a small forward who handles the ball like a lead guard and shoots like a center. That last bit isn't a positive part of the package, but it helps illustrate what Turner brings as a bench option.
If he can lead the second unit and defend a wing spot capably, he'll be an asset in Portland like he was in Boston. And if somehow his shot becomes less of a liability, the Blazers might come close to justifying their $70 million investment.
Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins
It seems weird that DeMarcus Cousins is the obvious choice for the Sacramento Kings because his greatest skill—dominating down low on offense—stands out so starkly.
But Boogie is also a good passer who routinely puts opposing centers on their heels with his handle. If the Kings manage to create spacing and get a few wings cutting off the ball, we could see new head coach Dave Joerger run the offense through Cousins in the high post.
Joerger, after all, did it that way with Gasol in Memphis.
It's probably better if Cousins is punishing foes underneath than from beyond the arc, but he shot 33.3 percent on 210 deep attempts last season. Considering the dearth of real threats from that range at center, Cousins' outside shot deserves mention.
Some defensive metrics, such as ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus, like him. But given his up-and-down effort and focus, the eye test is less kind. Still, Cousins ranked 13th in the league in ESPN's catch-all defensive metric.
San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard
Kyle Anderson would be a fun choice. His handle and penchant for passing are rare in a player who looks like a rangy power forward. Unfortunately, he can't guard anyone and is unproven as a scorer.
Pau Gasol does everything on offense, but he's a liability on the other end at this stage of his career.
If not for Kawhi Leonard, either of those guys could still be the pick for the San Antonio Spurs.
Leonard, though, is the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year and also a go-to scorer after a breakout offensive season. He shoots the three accurately, scores effectively in isolation, crushes wings on the block, passes readily in San Antonio's system and, of course, defends everyone from point guards to power forwards like no one else.
Yet again, the best player is the most versatile. It's starting to seem like teams should seek out talents with broad skill sets.
Toronto Raptors: DeMarre Carroll
If the version of Norman Powell who showed up for late stretches of the Raptors' playoff run or, even better, the one who destroyed summer league is the one Toronto gets all year, we'll have to readdress this.
For now, DeMarre Carroll remains the Raps' most versatile player—when healthy.
Last year, Carroll logged just 26 games, and Toronto has to be hoping for much more than that in his second season with the club. The 30-year-old is a steady three-point shooter with accuracy rates over 39 percent during each of the last two campaigns, and his real value comes in taking that stroke to the power forward spot.
If Carroll is physically right, he can guard three positions, hit outside shots and close games at the 4. Toronto doesn't have another player like that, and if he'd been healthy last year, we might have seen the Raptors push the Cavs a little harder in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Utah Jazz: Boris Diaw
It's been a long time since you could rely on more than 25 good minutes from Boris Diaw, and we're ages away from his epic defensive stands against LeBron in the Spurs' Finals meetings with the Heat. But any celebration of versatility is incomplete if it doesn't acknowledge a doughy French forward who can play center, distribute like a point guard and hit big threes when it matters.
Think of Diaw as the ultimate wheel-greaser. If your offense is functional and your roster is unselfish, Diaw helps everything run even more smoothly than it otherwise would, and he'll do it however necessary.
Remember, this is the guy who played huge minutes as a stretch-center for some of Steve Nash's most potent Suns offenses. Later, he'd put smaller power forwards through the grinder down low with the Spurs.
Gordon Hayward is the Utah Jazz's resident do-everything wing, George Hill can handle both guard spots and Joe Johnson is a lot like Luol Deng, whom we picked for the Lakers. But the answer here is Diaw—even if there's a bit of a lifetime achievement element at play.
Washington Wizards: Markieff Morris
This might be the toughest team yet, so it's a good thing the Washington Wizards are last.
Positional flexibility is almost nonexistent in Washington. John Wall and Trey Burke are strictly point guards; Bradley Beal and Marcus Thornton are prototypical gunning 2's; Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre are textbook small forwards; and Ian Mahinmi and Marcin Gortat are true centers.
That leaves a ragtag bunch headlined by Markieff Morris, who adequately occupies the Wizards' stretch 4 spot.
Morris can create for himself, though such efforts often result in difficult pull-ups and off-kilter drives to the hole. He's shown some accuracy from deep, and his quickness makes him useful in the mix underneath. But defense tends to come and go for the former Suns malcontent, and spending time at both forward positions isn't the same thing as playing them well.
The Wizards are short on multiuse tools, though, so Morris completes our list.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.