After sifting through the player pool for all 30 teams, discussing the final decisions over six articles, and testing the choices through 170 different simulations, we finally have some tangible results. The NBA Throwback players were added to their respective squads separately for each of these experiments in attempt to truly pick out who would be the most beneficially in today’s NBA. More information about these simulations and assumptions can be found here or at the links below.
NBA Throwback Improvements
Once the simulations had been ran, we needed to figure out a method for comparing the improvement of each team. One thing we looked at heavily was the difference in regular season wins between the current roster and with their “new” player in the rotation. Next, we looked at how often they made the playoffs, won the championship, and appeared in each round in between. Finally, we took into consideration the individual accolades accumulated by the NBA Throwback player such as All NBA teams, MVPs, and Finals MVPs. Based on all three levels of improvement, we’ve ranked each NBA Throwback player’s added value to their team.
NBA Throwback Ranked
30. Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh
All 30 NBA teams received an NBA Throwback player for this experiment. 29 of the improved. The Raptors got worse. With their current roster intact, Toronto averaged 55.9 wins per game, landing them amongst the elite contenders this season. However with Bosh in the rotation, their average wins stayed roughly the same at 55.8 wins per season. In 20 seasons without Bosh, they made the second round of the playoffs 18 times, only losing in the first round twice. In five runs with Bosh, they made the second round only three times, totaling their initial first round losses in 15 fewer attempts. The current Raptors managed to win 2/20 championships, while the Bosh led Raptors lost their lone Finals appearance. Bosh did manage to accumulate a 2nd or 3rd team All-NBA honor in all five attempts, but this did little for the success of his team.
29. Houston Rockets: Tracy McGrady
I’ll be the first to say, I was wrong about this experiment. My reasoning for adding another lanky wing threat to a team built around lanky wing threats seemed sound. However, 2K proved me wrong. The Rockets likely needed a legendary big man in the mix to be true contenders. T-Mac managed to add two extra wins per season for Houston, but he was never able to lead them out of the second round of the playoffs. This feat was only achieved by the current squad once in 20 runs. Adding some salt to the wound, McGrady was unable to accumulate any individual stats while playing alongside James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
28. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley
Luka Doncic was able to lead his team to two championships during the control group sims, setting the bar high for their NBA Throwback player. Finley helped the cause, but he may not have lived up to the hype. Dallas’s average win total ballooned from 47 to 56, and they never missed the playoffs with Finley. The current squad only missed the postseason once without him. Aside from not acquiring any individual stats, the biggest blemish on the Mavericks experiment was their inability to go all the way. Despite finding themselves in the Finals twice without Finley, they never made it past the Conference Finals with him.
27. Utah Jazz: John Stockton
Despite handing Utah one of the two best players in their franchise’s history, they didn’t manage to improve more than 26 other teams on this list. Stockton was chosen to provide on ball defense, assists, and leadership. He may have done some of those things, but he was unable to lead the current squad to a place he had never been himself. In fact, Stockton was unable to lead the Jazz out of the second round in their lone appearance. Stockton did manage to accumulate five straight 1st Team All-Defensive honors while leading his team to an average of 7 more wins per season.
26. Denver Nuggets: Alex English
English is often forgotten as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. Our hope was to provide Denver with more consistent firepower from the wing position. The experiment worked, but not as well as one might have hoped. Their average win total bumped from 45 to 51. They never missed the postseason with English in the lineup, something the current squad did three times. In five runs, English led the Nuggets out of the first round four times, and all the way to the Conference Finals once. While this is less than what’s expected from NBA Throwback players, it’s still an impressive feat with the likes of LAC and LAL reigning over the Western Conference. English also managed to make the 3rd Team All-NBA cut twice in his five attempts.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Shawn Kemp
Despite Gary Payton being arguably the better player, Kemp was given the nod based off of the Thunder’s current guard rotation. The decision paid dividends as Kemp helped lead the team to two Conference Finals appearances in five tries. Chris Paul and the current squad only made it out of the second round once in 20 attempts. Unfortunately, the Conference Finals is where the journey ends regardless of who is on this roster. Kemp was at least consistent as he made the All-NBA 3rd Team all five seasons he joined the Thunder.
24. New York Knicks: Bernard King
With only room to grow, the Knicks finish higher on this list than nearly every other list in several years. King added depth and consistency from the wing position. His leadership worked wonders for this young Knicks squad as he added more than 12 wins per season. His play was good enough for three 3rd Team All-NBA honors. Most importantly of all, he led the Knicks to a place that most of us thought impossible: The Playoffs. Naturally, in 20 seasons without King, New York never even sniffed the post season. In only five runs with King in the rotation the Knicks cracked the postseason once, even winning a couple games before getting knocked out of the first round.
23. New Orleans Pelicans: Jamal Mashburn
Mashburn was one of the lesser known NBA Throwback players included in this experiment. However, he still produced some impressive results. Adding more than seven wins per season, Mashburn led the Pelicans to the postseason in all five of his runs. The current squad only made the playoffs four times in 20 tries. Although their consistency improved, the new look Pelicans were unable to get any further than the Conference Finals. They reached this stage only once in their 20 regular roster attempts and once in their five attempts with Mashburn in the fold.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Miller
Another less star, Miller was the only player in this simulation that was not already available on NBA 2K20. After a couple YouTube suggestions and based on my own research, I created a virtual Mike Miller as close to the real thing as I could get. In his five seasons with the young Grizzlies, he never missed the playoffs and led the team to 8.3 more wins per season. However, he only made the second round 20% of the time, the same rate as the current Grizzlies team did without him. The biggest jump the new look Grizzles were able to achieve was getting to the Conference Finals where they lost their only appearance with Miller in tow.
21. Boston Celtics: Bob Cousy
You might be asking yourself, “Why not Larry Bird or Bill Russell?” Well, you’re probably right in assuming they would’ve better choices. Cousy was chosen based on Boston’s abundance of talented offensive wing players and lack of assist and steal numbers. However, he was only able to keep the Celtics at the top of the bottom third of these results. Despite making it to the Finals twice in five attempts, Cousy was only able to lead Boston to one championship. The current squad was able to win two on their own in 20 attempts. While the rate of winning improved with Cousy, it wasn’t enough of an improvement to move them up the list. Cousy worked his way onto two All-NBA 3rd Teams and won Finals MVP for their lone championship. The Houdini of the Hardwood benefited his team, but perhaps not as much as other Celtics legends could have.
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