You Have $15 To Make An NBA All-Time Starting Lineup. GO!

Some things you’ll want to know in this article:

  • Triple-Double – a player makes 20 or more points, 10 or more rebounds, and 10 or more assists in a game.
  • Win Shares – an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player
  • Defensive/Offensive Win Shares – an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his defense/offense.
  • Win Shares per 48 minutes – an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player per 48 minutes
  • Player Efficiency Rating – a measure of per minute production. League average is 15.
  • True Shooting Percentage – a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.
  • Effective Field Goal Percentage – this statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal.
  • Defensive Rating –  An estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions


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So I have $15 to spend wisely on the best NBA team $15 can buy. This should be interesting.

So I obviously can’t get each player worth five dollars, nor would I even want to and I’ll explain why. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are all fantastic players, but these wouldn’t be my all-time starting five. So I need to put on my general manager cap on and get to work on who I want on my team.

Point Guard – Oscar Robertson $4

I wanted to go with either Magic, Oscar, or John Stockton. I eliminated Magic because of his price so it was down to Stockton or Robertson. The reason Stockton was in this discussion is because of his price of $2 and because of his ability to pass the ball. Stockton holds the record for most career assists with 15,806. Stockton had a better field goal percentage with 51.5% compared to Robertson with 48.5% and made the playoffs in all of his 19 seasons.

But while Stockton statistics are compelling, I can’t pass on the opportunity to not only have someone who can pass AND score, but someone who defined his career off passing and scoring, and even rebounding. Robertson is Mr. Triple Double, averaging a triple-double from 1961-1965.  Not only can Robertson give me 10 assists like Stockton, but Robertson can give me 20 points and 10 rebounds, an area where Stockton didn’t prosper in because of his passing abilities. It makes it a no brainer to go with Robertson over Stockton. Two other things: Robertson created more wins in his 14 seasons in the league more than Stockton  and Robertson was LeBron before LeBron was LeBron. Thanks for that, Michael Smith of Numbers Never Lie.

So with 11 dollars left, I need to be careful with the next four players.

Shooting Guard – Michael Jordan $5

To be honest, I battled a bit with this choice. Shocking. But nevertheless my brain overcame my heart on this one and went with arguably the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan.

I debated between Jordan and Kobe Bryant, worth $4, because of the price so I could spend $5 elsewhere, but I thought better because Jordan is well, Jordan, the standard for basketball supremacy. I thought Bryant may have better numbers than Jordan, but when i went to look for them, I was shocked. Jordan was that good. He averaged 30.1 PPG (points per game) compared to Bryant’s 25.5. He also had more assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks than Bryant recorded in his career. The big factor was Player Efficiency and Win Shares per 48 minutes, where Jordan wipes away the competition. Jordan had a Player Efficiency of 27.9 and Win Shares of .250, good for best of all-time in the NBA.

Sure, Kobe’s playoff success and the ability to always come up with a big shot in a big game situation is remarkable and it can convince some to go with him over Jordan. But let’s be logical and critical here. Do people compare LeBron James to be Kobe or Jordan when they argue he’s going to be the greatest of all-time? I’ll leave it at that and go ahead and spend my big $6 dollars on the remainder of my team.

A team without LeBron James. Gasp.

Small Forward – Kevin Durant $2

Since I couldn’t get LeBron James and just dismantle every team ever created with the trio of Robertson, Jordan and James, I had to get the second best option. While I don’t think James should be $5 (I actually think Bird should be worth $5), I went with his “arch-rival” and the NEW most valuable player, Kevin Durant.

I battled between snatching Larry Bird priced at $4 or Scottie Pippen priced at $1 along with Durant. Putting Pippen on the team would re-create the magic of the famed Chicago Bulls team alongside Jordan on my all-time team, but I needed a guy who can shoot a three, drive, and play some stellar defense. Bird can do all of this, but priced at $4, I didn’t want to go all out on Bird with two positions left to fill so Durant was the smarter option.

Durant has a career Player Efficiency Rating of 24.53, good for 5th among active players and second among the small forwards on this list (LeBron is first) and a True Shooting Percentage of .5999 (better than LeBron!). So not only can I count on Durant’s efficiency, but in case Robertson drives and dishes it to Durant on the corner for three, Durant has a better chance of making it than LeBron, which means, getting Durant at $2 could probably be a steal!

Mama, there goes that man!

Power Forward – Tim Duncan $3

In my opinion, Duncan is the most underrated player of all-time. Never mind the fact he is a 14-time All Star, 4-time NBA champion, an MVP, and a 10-time All-NBA first team, Duncan’s accolades don’t even summarize how great he truly is.

No disrespect to Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, both great players  as well and deserve to be on the list of all-time NBA greats, but Duncan should be worth more than both of them. Duncan isn’t the steal of my team at $3, but he is the second steal.

With a team with three prime shooters and good defenders, Duncan down low makes my team’s defense exponentially better. He is second all-time in Defensive Win Shares to the great Bill Russell, making him the best among active players and he also is the best among active players in overall Win Shares. He is the fifth most efficient active player in the league with a Player Efficiency Rating of 24.56 and first among active power forwards. Duncan can grab 11 rebounds per game and give me 2 blocks per game, which is more icing on the cake for me defensively.

Offensively, the story isn’t any different. Duncan averages 19.86 points per game and an effective field goal percentage of 50.67%, making him just as efficient on offense as he is on defense. So not only do I have a power forward that can rebound efficiently on offense and defense, shutdown inside shots, and give me about 19-20 points a game, I have in my opinion the best power forward in the game.

For only $3.

If you were counting the dollars, I have one dollar left so you can guess who I have at center.

Center – Hakeem Olajuwon $1

Remember how I said Duncan was my second steal? THIS IS MY STEAL!

Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, who is 4th in’s Elo Player Ratings, a community-based project ranking the best players in NBA history, one of the best defensive and efficient players, is worth one dollar?

Give me an orange jumpsuit and a chain gang because I just committed a robbery.

I’m not going to say Olajuwon should be worth $5 (I’m not that crazy), but I would say he should be $2 and O’Neal should be $1. Olajuwon is one of the greatest centers of all-time and one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. In his career, Olajuwon scored 26,949 points, ranking him 11th on the all-time leaderboard for points. Olajuwon also had a defensive rating of 97.89, thanks to his 11.1 rebounds per game, 3.1 blocks per game, and 1.7 steals per game. And last but not least, he had a career Player Efficiency Rating of 23.6, ranking him 16th all-time. O’Neal had a higher efficiency rating, but aside from that, Olajuwon trumps him in the other categories.

Olajuwon is the force down low both offensively and defensively, not to mention he was also a 2-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star. And come on, the Rockets took Olajuwon with the first pick in the 1984 draft, the same draft one Michael Jordan was in. They knew something so I’m not going to pass on having “The Dream” on my dream team.

So let’s recap.

Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon. These five all-stars for $15. That’s one amazing team.

Obviously, without the salary cap, this team would be completely different. My five would be Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But that’s another article for another day.




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