With the current lack of sports to cover globally, we’ve come up with a thought-evoking topic regarding NBA teams and their former players called NBA Throwback. It’s always fun to compare across eras and build “All Time Starting 5s” with players from your favorite team. But what if you could bring back only one former player from a team’s history to join the current day squad? Would you automatically choose the best player in the franchise’s history? Or would you first look at what the current squad needs help with and who would fit the best? We dive a little deeper into these questions in this NBA Throwback series.
NBA Throwback Rules
For more information about the rules we followed, assumptions we made, and simulated results we will have soon, check out the first piece in this series by clicking here or on the Southeast Division link below.
NBA Throwback: Northwest Division
The Nuggets have been a borderline elite team for the last few years, but they have yet to truly compete deep into the playoffs. Nikola Jokic gives you a good chance at winning any game, and their team chemistry and next-man-up mentality have served them well in the regular season. However, their lack of consistent scoring and wing play has hindered them when it matters most. Coming in at 20th in the league in points per game, it is clear that Jokic, arguably the most creative passing big man of all time, needs a primary scorer he can get the ball to.
With only one active shooting guard playing significant minutes, English can easily slide into the rotation at his natural small forward spot or as a larger two guard given his elite scoring ability. During his career with Denver, he averaged 26 points per game which is still a franchise record. He also contributed 5.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 0.8 BPG from the wing position. These abilities would be put to good use on any roster.
Despite having arguably a top five center in the NBA today in Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves struggled mightily again this season. The addition of D’Angelo Russell should help their scoring and assist totals, but it won’t patch all their problems. They rank 2nd to last in both 3P% and FG%, as well as bottom 20 in offensive rebounds, turnovers, FT%, and defensive rebounds. This team needs help in a big way.
A young Kevin Garnett had the ability to play multiple spots on the floor. He primarily played power forward, a spot that’s not exactly bolstering with talent in Minnesota. Garnett almost instantly fills the need of rebounding on both ends of the court, while doing nothing but improving the overall team FG%. If we provide Garnett as Towns’ running mate, and set them both up with Russell at the point, this Wolf pack gets a lot scarier.
Oklahoma City Thunder
When looking at the history of the OKC Thunder, it’s hard not to immediately think of the Seattle Supersonics. When you think of the Supersonics, a big name duo generally tops the list. The first part of the duo, likely the better of the two, is famous point guard, Gary “The Glove” Payton. However, when you take a second look at the current Thunder roster, you may notice three of their five best players can play the point guard position. Would adding another Hall of Fame guard to that mix make them better? Maybe. Would it do much to balance out the roster’s needs? No. So who was the second part of the duo?
The Thunder are dead least in offensive rebounds and 4th from the bottom in total rebounds. Their points per game also falls out of the top half of the league. However, they already have a prominent man in the middle in Steven Adams, so what do they need? Enter Kemp. During his time in Seattle, Kemp averaged nearly 10 rebounds per game, 52% shooting, and upwards of one steal and block per game. His mobility and athleticism leave him well suited to play the PF position, sliding Danilo Gallinari down to the SF and still allowing Adams to roam the paint. Not to mention that in a league infatuated with small ball, playing Kemp at the center position alongside Galo at the 4-spot could prove to be a lethal NBA Throwback lineup.
The Blazers are another team that has a core in place but has never been able to quite get over the hump in a loaded Western Conference. This season they added somewhat of a question mark at the center position with Hassan Whiteside. While the newly acquired center has paid dividends in the paint, the team still ranks in the bottom five in assists, steals, and defensive rating. They also only have one true point guard playing meaningful minutes on their roster. With the big man rotation looking good and lack of depth in the backcourt, all signs point towards an All Star, playmaking, swingman.
The addition of Drexler to a star-studded guard rotation could complicate things, but we’re guessing it does the opposite. While Drexler is known for being a capable scorer, he also holds averages of six rebounds, six assists, and upwards of two steals per game. It’s obvious that this all around skill set will help the Blazers, but an overlooked aspect of this addition is the new lineup possibilities. With Drexler on hand to play either wing position, CJ McCollum is suddenly freed up to run the point guard position with the second unit much more often. Even with Damian Lillard on the bench, the Blazers still have the capability of fielding McCollum, Drexler, and Carmelo Anthony at the same time. What that unit lacks defensively it can make up for in offensive firepower.
Starters: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Clyde Drexler, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside
Yet again, we have a Northwest Division team that has been a playoff lock for multiple seasons but has yet to piece together a legitimate run. The recent fallout between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert doesn’t impact our simulation much, but their skill set at their respective positions played a big part in our hunt for the perfect NBA Throwback player. Some of the team’s worst stats include steals and assists where they rank 30th and 26th respectively. They also fall in the bottom half of the league in turnovers per game. If you’re a fan of the Jazz, or basketball in general, and piece together the poor stats we just mentioned, you might have guessed where we’re going with this one.
Despite acquiring Mike Conley in the offseason, the Jazz are still in desperate need of a floor general. At this point in his career, Conley could serve as the perfect backup point guard to one of the best to ever play the game. Adding the all-time leader in assists and steals to this team can do nothing but improve their odds of a title run. One of the all-time great floor generals should open up this offense and give both Mitchell and Gobert the room they need to thrive. Seeing what Stockton did for Karl Malone, Gobert should see his averages reach career levels playing alongside the crafty guard.
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