Here's a look at Chris Ballard's complete roster and the writer's analysis of his team, including his preferred starting lineup (which has small forward LeBron James at point guard), his pick in the coaches' draft and his assessment of how these players would come together on the court.
Five MVPs, record 11 titles in 13 years; No. 2 in rpg (22.5)
Back-to-back MVPs from '08-10; 27.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 7 apg
'93 MVP; top 21 all time in points, rebounds and FG%
No. 2 all time with 2,560 threes; 18.2 ppg, 88.8% FT
Five rings, seven board titles in a row, two DPY awards
Five-time All-Star; 25+ ppg five times; Dream Teamer
Euro legend; NBA rookie at 31; 16 ppg, 10 rpg in '97-98
Two-time All-NBA second team; 10+ apg last four years
Tops with 34 ppg, 11.4 apg in '72-73; five-time All-NBA
Four-time All-NBA and All-Star; 24.8 ppg; Redeem Teamer
Four-time All-Star with Suns; two-time All-NBA third team
Two titles with Pistons ('89-90); '86 rebounding champ
COACH: Mike Krzyzewski, the ninth pick (out of 10) in the coaches' draft. He wouldn't have been my first choice, but picking this low I'm glad he was still available. First off, he can really coach defense but, just as important, I know LeBron James is likely to listen to him (and flourish under him) because the two paired so well on the U.S. national team.
STYLE OF PLAY: We're built around three concepts: dominating defense, controlling the boards and utilizing James' playmaking skills. Send out Bill Russell, Dennis Rodman, Shawn Marion, Deron Williams and James and we're in stopper mode. On offense, using James as a point guard (his natural position) creates all kinds of matchup nightmares -- in some cases our starting lineup's shortest player will be Charles Barkley. Or we play Williams at shooting guard (so he can guard opposing PGs) and he becomes a spot-up shooter. (My projected starting lineup would be subject to change based on matchups, with Williams possibly replacing Reggie Miller and Barkley potentially teaming with Rodman instead of Chris Mullin at forward.) The second unit can run the offense through Arvydas Sabonis or Tiny Archibald and look to Carmelo Anthony to score in bursts, like a taller Vinnie Johnson with superior range (if an inferior nickname).
BIGGEST CONCERNS: You mean besides the GM? Well, first off, despite his collegiate and Olympic success, Krzyzewski has never coached in the NBA, so that's a big gamble. Other potential issues: Against this level of competition, can we get away with playing Mullin and Miller together defensively? Are we too reliant on James on both ends of the court? Will Rodman and Russell provide enough of an offensive threat to play together (though people forget what good passers they both were)? Will Williams and Archibald give us enough defenders against small, quick guards?
MY GAME-ON-THE-LINE PLAY: No reason to get fancy. If I'm Coach K, I give the ball to LeBron up top and, depending on the defender, either A) run a pick-and-roll hoping to get a mismatch or B) spread the floor and give James strict orders not to pull up for a jumper. His goal in either scenario: drive, draw the D and either attempt to finish or kick it out. He'd have Mullin on one wing, Miller on the other, Anthony on the baseline and Barkley cutting weakside for a finish and/or offensive rebound. Sure, we lose the rebounding prowess of Russell or Rodman, but there are few players in history better finishing at the rim than James -- and few better at knocking down open jumpers than Miller and Mullin if the defense does decide to help. Of course, we could also run just about any play for Miller and I'd feel pretty good about it.
SCARIEST RIVAL: Alex Wolff's team. First and foremost because he has Michael Jordan, but I like how he built his team around MJ with a complementary big man in David Robinson and a wing player in Dwyane Wade (who looked very Pippen-like in the '08 Olympics).
WHY MY TEAM IS THE BEST: Well, this is the most hypothetical question imaginable, but here goes: No other team has a trio as dominant as Russell-LeBron-Barkley and those three are surrounded by guys who excel at filling specific roles, meaning team chemistry should be a strength. We'll be dominant defensively and on the boards, have a clear team leader (Russell, who was also once a coach), two of the best perimeter shooters in history and a collection of smart players who understand what it takes to win (the roster collectively boasts 20 NBA titles and nine Olympic gold medals).
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