Quarantine challenge: Picking an all-time 10-man roster using each NBA team and country just once

Earlier this week, we learned that the NBA is looking into the possibility of using Disney World as a bubble environment to finish up the 2019-20 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. But even if a plan like that does eventually go through, we still won't be seeing real basketball for a while.And…


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Earlier this week, we learned that the NBA is looking into the possibility of using Disney World as a bubble environment to finish up the 2019-20 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. But even if a plan like that does eventually go through, we still won’t be seeing real basketball for a while.

And so, with no games to watch, we’ve had to come up with other ways to get our basketball fix during this coronavirus pandemic. We’ve relived old games, and looked forward to the future to see how young stars might develop. And of course, “The Last Dance” has been a hit.

Here now, is another exercise to think about basketball in a fun way. This challenge actually came from the soccer world initially, but we adapted it to the NBA pretty easily. It goes like this: put together the best possible 10-man roster you can using only players who have suited up during your lifetime. The catch is that you cannot have two players from the same country, nor two players from the same NBA team



For example, if you choose LeBron James, you cannot have any other Americans, nor anyone who has ever played for the Cavaliers, Heat or Lakers. If you take Dirk Nowitzki, that eliminates all other Germans, as well as all other players who have worn a Mavericks uniform. 

Your roster doesn’t have to include two of each position, but you should try to make a useable team. That is, don’t take eight centers or six point guards just to make things work. One other note regarding players who may have been born in one country, but later moved or represented another internationally: there are some grey areas, but just use common sense for the purposes of this challenge. 

For example, Kyrie Irving does not represent Australia, nor does Steve Nash work for South Africa. Doing things like that would just be using a loophole that ruins the purpose of the exercise. As for Tim Duncan, the U.S. Virgin Islands are technically an American territory, so he will count as an American player for this challenge.

James Herbert

Starters:

Luka Doncic (Mavericks / Slovenia)

Manu Ginobili (Spurs / Argentina)

LeBron James (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers / USA)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

Arvydas Sabonis (Trail Blazers / Lithuania)

Bench:

Ben Simmons (Sixers / Australia)

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Clippers, Thunder / Canada)

Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz, Timberwolves, Nets / Russia)

Nikola Jokic (Nuggets / Serbia)

Juan Carlos Navarro (Grizzlies / Spain)

Buddy Hield (Pelicans, Kings / Bahamas)

Lauri Markkanen (Bulls / Finland)

Patrick Ewing (Knicks, SuperSonics, Magic / Jamaica)

Yao Ming (Rockets / China)

Two-way contracts:

Rik Smits (Pacers / Netherlands)

Sekou Doumbouya (Pistons / Senegal)

Adi Joseph

Starters:

Ben Simmons (Sixers / Australia)

Michael Jordan (Bulls, Wizards / USA)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks / Germany)

Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets, Raptors / Nigeria)

Bench:

Manu Ginobili (Spurs / Argentina)

Drazen Petrovic (Trail Blazers, Nets / Croatia)

Buddy Hield (Pelicans, Kings / Bahamas)

Rick Fox (Celtics, Lakers / Canada)

Patrick Ewing (Knicks, SuperSonics, Magic / Jamaica)

Jack Maloney

Starters:

Drazen Petrovic (Trail Blazers, Nets / Croatia)

Manu Ginobili (Spurs / Argentina)

LeBron James (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers / USA)

Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks / Germany)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

Bench:

Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves, Jazz, Suns / Spain)

Sarunas Marciulionis (Warriors, SuperSonics, Kings, Nuggets / Lithuania)

Pascal Siakam (Raptors / Cameroon)

Al Horford (Hawks, Celtics, Sixers / Dominican Republic)

Yao Ming (Rockets / China)

Sam Quinn

Starters:

Steve Nash (Mavericks, Suns, Lakers / Canada)

Michael Jordan (Bulls, Wizards / USA)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

Al Horford (Hawks, Celtics, Sixers / Dominican Republic)

Patrick Ewing (Knicks, SuperSonics, Magic / Jamaica)

Bench:

Manu Ginobili (Spurs / Argentina)

Buddy Hield (Pelicans, Kings / Bahamas)

Pascal Siakam (Raptors / Cameroon)

Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz, Timberwolves, Nets / Russia)

Nikola Jokic (Nuggets / Serbia)

Colin Ward-Henninger 

Starters:

Tony Parker (Spurs, Hornets / France)

Michael Jordan (Bulls, Wizards / USA)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks / Germany)

Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets, Raptors / Nigeria)

 

Bench:

Ricky Rubio (Timberwolves, Jazz, Suns / Spain)

Buddy Hield (Pelicans, Kings / Bahamas)

Drazen Petrovic (Trail Blazers, Nets / Croatia)

Patrick Ewing (Knicks, SuperSonics, Magic / Jamaica)

Nikola Jokic (Nuggets / Serbia)

Jasmyn Wimbish

Starters:

LeBron James (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers / USA)

Manu Ginobili (Spurs / Argentina)

Danilo Gallinari (Knicks, Nuggets, Clippers, Thunder / Italy)

Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks / Germany)

Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets, Raptors / Nigeria)

Bench:

Ben Simmons (Sixers / Australia)

Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings / Serbia)

Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz, Timberwolves, Nets / Russia)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

Arvydas Sabonis (Trail Blazers / Lithuania)

Takeaways

Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of common choices here. Foreign-born players who have played for just one team, such as Ginobili, Nowitzki and Antetokounmpo are key anchors. Obviously, the more teams a player has been on, the more options he takes away. That was why, for example, even though Nash is an obvious choice at first glance, he only ended up being chosen for one roster. If you choose him, you can’t have any other Mavericks, nor any other Lakers, and there are too many good options on both of those teams. 

Speaking of Nash, he brought up another tricky aspect of this challenge: late-career cameos. His stint in Los Angeles towards the end of his career wipes out any other Lakers if you use him. Likewise, Olajuwon’s one season with the Raptors means you can’t use anyone else from Toronto. Little things like that were frustrating at times, but also made things more interesting. 

Finally, one other thing that became clear over the course of this project is that a few teams — the Raptors, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Mavericks, in particular — have had many of the best foreign-born players. Nowitzki, Nash and Doncic have all been on the Mavs, Petrovic and Sabonis both played for the Blazers, Ginobili and Parker were both Spurs and Olajuwon, Siakam and Marc Gasol have all suited up for the Raps. That definitely added to the challenge. 

Here’s a list of the most used players from our six staff members’ rosters:

Giannis was the only player chosen for all six teams, with Ginobili checking in next at five. Our writers were split on their choice for an American player, with half taking LeBron and the other half choosing Jordan. 

6/6:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks / Greece)

5/6:

  • Manu Ginobili (Spurs / Argentina) 

4/6:

  • Patrick Ewing (Knicks, SuperSonics, Magic / Jamaica)
  • Buddy Hield (Pelicans, Kings / Bahamas)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks / Germany)

3/6:

  • LeBron James (Cavaliers, Heat, Lakers / USA)
  • Nikola Jokic (Nuggets / Serbia)
  • Michael Jordan (Bulls, Wizards / USA)
  • Andrei Kirilenko (Jazz, Timberwolves, Nets / Russia)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets, Raptors / Nigeria)
  • Drazen Petrovic (Trail Blazers, Nets / Croatia)
  • Ben Simmons (Sixers / Australia)

Read More…


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