Watching the Celtics turn their game on “Champions” gear and run away from the Raptors last night, my mind went back to the day of the Kevin Garnett trade, when one of my boys described the new and improved Celts as “Danny Ainge playing with the Create-a-Team on (NBA) Live.” Which is even more true post-chip, since every available free agent Boston can afford wants to play for them, meaning Ainge can pretty much pick the ones he wants. (And yet he still ended up with Pat O’Bryant.)
Personally, I haven’t done Create-a-Team since Live 98, but if I did it with today’s players, who would I put on my team?
To maintain some semblance of realism, let’s put some parameters in place: Twelve players, one head coach (doesn’t have to be a current NBA head coach); no more than three recent All-Stars on the roster (“recent” being in the past five years); at least one rookie; at least three certified NBA bench guys on the bench; and finally, at least one fringe bench guy who could be out of the League tomorrow. My lineup:
PG – Tony Parker
The Tom Brady of NBA point guards. Not the most talented, maybe not the most media-friendly, the one you’d like to imagine is a huge d-bag, but nonetheless he’s gone up against all of the best at his position and beat them.
SG – Tracy McGrady
Still one of the five most talented players in the world if you ask me. Capable of dropping 30 points a night and being the go-to scorer in crunch time, makes his free throws, solid defensively when he wants to be, and he’s a better playmaker than somebody like Kobe because he’s wired to be a better teammate.
SF – Danny Granger
Ever since I’ve adopted his team, I’ve fallen in love with Granger’s game. One of the best shooting forwards in the League who can score, rebound and play D and excel at multiple positions.
PF – Tim Duncan
No explanation necessary.
C – Zach Randolph
Explanation necessary. For starters, any center who plays with Duncan doesn’t have to be a great defender, since Duncan is the main one protecting the rim. And he don’t have to be a great passer, he just have to understand the game (look at Oberto). Z-Bo can do what he does best (rebound and score) and still stay out of TD’s way, and it would work. Now you may look down the page and say that Zach’s backup on this team is better than him — and you’d be right — but I think said backup would be more OK coming off the bench than Zach. Plus Zach is my favorite player, so he’s going on my team and he’s starting, OK?
Derrick Rose (rookie), Kevin Durant (T-Mac of the second unit; crunch-time lineup of Parker, McGrady, Durant, Granger, Duncan), Bruce Bowen (lock-down specialist), Paul Millsap (Certified Bench Guy #1), Al Jefferson, Nate Robinson (CBG #2), Quinton Ross (CBG #3, fringe guy, secondary lock-down specialist).
Gets the players’ respect as a somewhat-recent former player; insists on discipline; smart game-planner; after time spent with Team USA and current Blazers, has experience balancing a deep and talented roster and values defense; he’s Mr. Sonic.
Who’s on your team?