As you may have seen, Ballislife.com recently came up with the idea of getting people to chose their all-time starting five but with a budget constraint.
The idea is that you have $15 to pick the best starting five you can, with prices given to different players.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 29, 2014
If we ignore things like “good fit” and “chemistry” (Gregg Popovich would be fuming…), let’s try and put together the best statistical team we can.
Let’s measure each player by regular-season Win Shares (WS) and then take the best season of their career and assume that we get their performance from that season. WS is a way of measuring how many wins each player has contributed to his team’s total through their play and was developed by Basketball Reference, so we will use their numbers for this analysis.
May 27, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers partnerMagic Johnson
reacts during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Magic Johnson – $5, 1989/90: 16.5WS
Oscar Robertson – $4, 64/65: 17.0WS
Isiah Thomas – $3, 84/85: 11.2WS
John Stockton – $2,88/89: 15.6WS
Walt Frazier – $1, 70/71: 15.6WS
We’ll take The Big O here because according to WS, his best season was better than any other point guard option. Interesting to see there’s no Chris Paul available in the original selection.
Dec 21, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Charlotte Bobcats ownerMichael Jordan
unveils the new Charlotte Hornets logo at halftime during the game against the Utah Jazz at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Jordan – $5 87/88: 21.2WS
Kobe Bryant – $4, 05/06: 15.3WS
Jerry West – $3, 65/66: 17.1WS
Clyde Drexler – $2, 87/88: 13.2WS
Dwyane Wade – $1, 08/09: 14.7WS
Given how much better Jordan’s best season was than anyone else’s, its an easy decision here. It’ll cost the full $5, but its worth it for arguably the best player in the world.
May 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat forwardLeBron James
answers questions during a press conference following game five against the Indiana Pacers of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Miami 93-90. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James – $5, 08/09: 20.3WS
Larry Bird – $4, 15.8, 85/86: 15.8WS
Julius Erving – $3, 80/81: 13.8WS
Kevin Durant – $2, 13/14: 19.2WS
Scottie Pippen – $1, 96/96: 13.1WS
The difference between LeBron’s best season and Durant’s is only 1.1WS, but Durant costs $3 less. We’ll keep Durant and save that $3 for a rainy day.
Feb 15, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NBA former playerKarl Malone
before the 2014 NBA All Star Shooting Stars competition at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Karl Malone – $5, 96/97: 16.7WS
Charles Barkley – $4, 89/90: 17.3WS
Tim Duncan – $3, 01/02: 17.8WS
Dirk Nowitzki – $2, 05/06: 17.7WS
Kevin Garnett – $1, 03/04: 18.3WS
Another easy decision here—apparently Garnett’s best season was better than any of these other power forwards. Not sure I would agree with that, but stats are stats so let’s take Garnett for only $1.
Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; NBA legendBill Russell
speaks during a special tribute to him during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game Legends Brunch at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – $5, 71/72: 25.4WS
Bill Russell – $4, 63/64: 17.3WS
Wilt Chamberlain – $3, 63/64: 25.0WS
Shaquille O’Neal – $2, 99/00: 18.6WS
Hakeem Olajuwon – $1, 92/93: 15.8WS
With only $3 left for our final position, we can take Wilt Chamberlain and be happy about it. Abdul-Jabbar was only .4WS better than Wilt the Stilt, so we can’t really argue with having a bit of a drop off here in order to pick up some extra WS earlier.
Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Wilt Chamberlain
This $15 lineup gives us a total of 105.7 Win Shares. While I’m surprised that Tim Duncan’s best season isn’t rated higher and Chamberlain’s season is actually rated higher than MJ’s, this is statistically the best team we can put out under the budget.
Obviously, if you really wanted the best team possible, you would take into account how each player would complement the others, and you could possibly chose to play someone out of position.
If I was picking based on the eye test, rather than on stats, my five would be: John Stockton ($2), Michael Jordan ($5), Larry Bird ($4), Tim Duncan ($3), and Hakeem Olajuwon ($1). This team would have post-scoring from Hakeem, outside shooting from the three perimeter players and defensive excellence at three of the five positions, not to mention the brilliance of Jordan. Skill set and personality-wise, these five would fit together like a child’s puzzle.
Let us know on Twitter (@AirAlamo), who your best team would be —we will retweet the best ones!
Would you prefer the Stats Team or the Eye-Test Team?