Point Guard: Lebron James
I was so close to going with Rajon Rondo. He is a pesky defender, a true floor general, and a big moment player. He can’t shoot (streaky at best), but I would surround him with shooters. Then I realized Lebron is a bigger Rondo with a slightly better shot. He doesn’t play PG but his court vision and ball handling rank among the top. Plus, he doesn’t bring the locker room drama that Rondo supposedly brings. Lebron can get into the lane at will and dish it out to the shooters. People criticize him for shying away from big moments, but that’s why I have the next two players on the team (Lebron, to his credit, stepped up big time in the 2012 Finals). He can be the guy who sets up others for the big shot. Moreover, he is long and quick enough to guard every point guard. In fact, he ends up shutting down the best ball handler in close games anyway (i.e. Derrick Rose in 2011 ECF). In the end, he’s currently the best player on both ends of the floor. He needs to be on this team one way or another. For me, he’s my starting point guard.
Honorable Mention: Rajon Rondo
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili
With Lebron as PG, I need a shooting guard who can play without the ball (unfortunately eliminating Kobe). Therefore, I narrowed it down to Ray Allen, James Harden, and Manu. Manu was the best choice because of the experience, killer instincts, defense, 3 point shot (shot 41% last year), and play making ability. He has the most playoff experience and 3 championships. Greg Popovich said that Manu’s competitiveness rivals that of Jordan. That is big praise coming from a Hall of Fame coach. His competitiveness, passion, along with his high basketball IQ allow him to be an excellent defender (ranked 3rd in defensive +/- from 2003-2009). Lebron and Manu backcourt would be very, very good on defense. Also, he is a scary man at the end of games. He is not afraid of the big moment and often delivers the win. Although “old” and injury prone, he is still the best option for this team.
Honorable Mention: James, the Beard, Harden
Small Forward: Kevin Durant
Too easy. I’m talking about this pick and the way Durant scores. He would be the primary scorer on this team. 6’10 (his height is a true mystery) and athletic. His 7’4 wingspan gives him an advantage on defense and offense. Durant can score in a variety of ways including spotting up and catching and shooting off screens. When he elevates for his shot, it is nearly impossible to block him. His defense is not on the same level as some others on this team but is improving. He’s not a great rebounder but above average, leading all SF in rebounds with 8.0 per game (Josh Smith is a PF). He also has the tendency to disappear when he can’t get the ball due to physical defense and double teams. The thing is, he will never see double teams on this team. On any one on one situation, regardless of who the defender is, I absolutely love durant’s odds to score.
Honorable Mention: Carmelo Anthony
Power Forward: Kevin Love
This was the hardest decision. Should I go with defense or offense? I decided to go with offense since my perimeter defense is set and my center can hold down the middle. So it came down to Dirk and Love. Dirk is more polished with more experience. In addition, he has shown that he can be the man in big moments. However, I decided to go with Love because he is a better passer (imagine outlet passes to Lebron and Durant) and an unstoppable beast on the boards (ridiculous how an undersized PF with average athleticism can get that many rebounds). Love has shown this season that he can knockdown those 3’s. He will be the stretch four of the team. Him and Dwight Howard tandem will almost never allow an offensive rebound.
Honorable Mention: Dirk Nowitzki
Center: Dwight Howard
Best center in the NBA. Yes, he is coming off a back surgery (herniated disc). Yes, he is a freaking diva. But he can play defense (3 times DPOY). He’s not great on offense but on a team that does not allow any double teams, Dwight can be a formidable low post threat. Also, he is surrounded by shooters who give him space to operate down low. What worries me is his career 58.8% free throw shooting, which made me consider Tyson Chandler (a little better than Dwight, shooting 68%). But once again, D12 is better low post scoring threat and defender.
Honorable Mention: Tyson Chandler
What is your starting five?