Here's a look at Alex Wolff's complete roster and the writer's analysis of his team, including his preferred starting lineup (which has shooting guard Michael Jordan at small forward and center David Robinson at power forward), his pick in the coaches' draft and his assessment of how these players would come together on the court.
Six rings, five MVPs, 10 scoring titles; record 30.1 ppg
Two titles, '95 MVP; NBA's most recent quad-double ('94)
'06 Finals MVP; three All-NBA first team; 25.4 ppg
Won two titles, MVP and Rookie of the Year award in '70s
Two titles; '89 Finals MVP; four All-Defensive first teams
Five-time All-Defensive team; No. 5 all time with 15 rpg
Active leader at 9.9 apg; '08 All-NBA first team; '06 ROY
'79 Finals MVP with Sonics; Nine-time All-Defensive team
Championships with three different teams (seven total)
Two-time All-Star in early '90s; POR leader in assists, 3s
Four-time Defensive Player of the Year; '04 title with DET
Four-time All-Defensive first team; No. 5 all time in steals
COACH: Phil Jackson, the third pick (out of 10) in the coaches' draft. I wanted Red Auerbach, but Ian Thomsen took him one spot before me. Not that the MJ Whisperer is a poor consolation prize.
STYLE OF PLAY: Building a team around Michael Jordan, I wanted the other 11 guys to supply three things, all traits shared by or compatible with the greatest player of all time: 1.) backcourt defensive ability that can keep teams from getting into their sets (think Joe Dumars, Dennis Johnson, Terry Porter and Maurice Cheeks); 2.) a handful of spot-up, Paxsonian deadeyes (Dumars, Robert Horry, Porter) to whom Jordan, Dwyane Wade or Chris Paul can dish when defenses collapse while trying to guard the unguardable; and 3.) big men with length (David Robinson, Nate Thurmond, Ben Wallace) who can play goalie if our extended D is broken and some interloper gets near the tin.
The one guy who doesn't quite fit is Dave Cowens, who's neither a deadeye nor a long body, but he has a nice mid-range offensive game, covers the court well, was a first-team All-Defense selection and would be in perfect sync with the spirit of the group in that he'd never take a possession off. I'd make Wade and Cowens first off the bench, for the way they'd goose the energy level.
BIGGEST CONCERNS: Low-post scoring when a game grinds into the half-court. After Robinson and Cowens, neither Thurmond nor Wallace is an offensive machine with a bread-and-butter scoring move. But something tells me that running clear-outs and post-up isolations for Jordan and Wade would yield pretty satisfactory results. I'd also love to have one more shooter -- maybe sign undrafted Andrew Toney as a free agent?
MY GAME-ON-THE-LINE PLAY: I love inbounds plays that exploit defenders' reluctance to believe that a screener or inbounder will wind up shooting. This play offers two variations on that theme. From the sideline, Jordan inbounds up top to Paul, then cuts off a blind screen that Dumars has set on Jordan's defender. Paul whips the ball back to an open MJ for a jumper on the left wing (Option No. 1). Meanwhile, Horry goes down from the left elbow to the low post to set a screen on Robinson's man, then releases and curls to the right wing, where Paul finds him (Option No. 2).
SCARIEST RIVAL: Chris Ballard's team. In Bill Russell, Reggie Miller and Dennis Rodman, he may have the best big man, best shooter and best rebounder, respectively, the league has ever seen. The only consolation is that he'll have to hire a team shrink, what with the Worm and Sir Charles; high-maintenance Carmelo Anthony; and Mr. Uncongeniality candidates Tiny Archibald and Bill Laimbeer. Expect a lot of late-night phone calls, Chris.
WHY MY TEAM IS THE BEST: Not because its GM/owner claims it is, but because the guys will go out and prove it over and over. Ten have been All-Defensive selections, most first-team and multiple times. Nine have won rings. Six have served as coaches, player-coaches or executives. And everyone -- even guys like Paul and Wade, whose careers are far from over -- can claim at least one of those distinctions. There'll be no off-court drama, just an even-tempered commitment never to let a loose ball go unpursued, or a must-have game go un-won.
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