NBA

TLSM’s All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft: Rounds 2-3

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TLSM is back with rounds two and three of the All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft! (If you missed round 1, click here!) Michael Jordan led all legends as the first overall pick to Team Hodgson, with Team James heading to Jamaill Hines at pick two. From there our writers decided between a deep third tier of all-time greats. Heading into the second round, big names such as Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Kevin Durant still remain.

OTHER ROUND RESULTS: Click here for Round 1 | Click here for Rounds 4-5

A refresher on the rules: nine analysts set out to create a ten-man roster of the best NBA players ever. In a snake draft, the mock-general managers could take any player they wanted, and although the rosters have some loose order, positions do not matter. Peak performance is prioritized over career-long achievement; this means Derrick Rose, Bill Walton and many others have stronger cases to be drafted. However, NBA bodies of work are all that matters. International legends such as Oscar Schmidt, Drazen Petrovic and Arvydas Sabonis might see their stock fall.

Once the rosters are formed, they will compete in a simulated season on NBA 2K20. Below are the results from rounds 2 and 3, with explanations and thoughts from each writer on their selections.

2nd Round

Round 2, Pick 10 – Team Abreu: Bill Russell

To begin the second round, Bill Russell, the NBA’s greatest winner, provides a great addition next to Tim Duncan. An elite rebounder and defender, Russell is widely known as the best center the league has seen. His skills earned him MVP honors five times, as well as eleven NBA championships in twelve seasons. In today’s game, Russell would not skip a beat. In a hypothetical world, Russell and Duncan form a formidable defensive duo. Offensively, Russell does hamper the spacing, but his rebounding skills would provide multiple putback and second-chance options for Duncan and the rest of the team. Similarly, his underrated passing and athleticism would make him a deadly fast-break threat.

Joining: Tim Duncan

Round 2, Pick 11 – Team Zola: Kevin Durant

I could’ve went in a lot of different directions with my second pick, and was looking at guys like Steph, Dirk, and Oscar Robertson. In the end, I decided to pair Hakeem Olajuwon with another elite offensive talent that also thrives on the defensive end. Kevin Durant is simultaneously one of the purest shooters of all time and one of the most versatile defenders of the modern era. Opposing teams will be in for a nightmare when contending with Durant’s length on the perimeter and Hakeem’s shot blocking inside. On offense, Durant can space the floor, and also attack the rim on any given play. As long as he doesn’t quit the team, Durant will be unstoppable for us on both sides of the court.

Joining: Hakeem Olajuwon

Round 2, Pick 12 – Team Johnson: Kevin Garnett

Superior effort player, great teammate, epic defensive capability. The Bird Gang needs some energy, and the Big Ticket is nothing without energy. His shot blocking and perimeter defending ability is next to none at his position, and he’s a magical offensive player. One of the first guys looking back that you could’ve called a “unicorn”. He’s another guy that fits our offensive flexibility as well. KG was great at converting post-ups, face-ups, and mid range scoring opportunities. For our team, I can put him on the block, or short corner, or running some pick and rolls. He’ll make the right pass too; even if he’s the “superstar”, he doesn’t need to take the last shot, and I like that.

Joining: Larry Bird

Round 2, Pick 13 – Team Caldwell: Stephen Curry

With my first two picks, I’ve paired the most dominant inside presence with the most lethal outside shooter ever. Curry’s combination of scoring and playmaking makes him the ideal PG for pick-and-rolls with Shaq. The two will be easier to build around than some of the other duos taken so far.

Unanimous MVP Curry put up the best season I’ve seen in my life. He put up 50/40/90 splits on an absurd number of attempts, and averaged 30 points per game. He was doing things we’d never seen before and may not see again. In my opinion, that statement can be said about both of my players, which puts me in a strong position going forward.

Joining: Shaquille O’Neal

Round 2, Pick 14 – Team Brooks: Dirk Nowitzki

Steph was my ideal addition here, but when he went one spot ahead of me, I was happy taking Dirk. The smooth-shooting Maverick is the ideal frontcourt mate for Kareem in my eyes. Kareem will have tons of room to operate playing next to Dirk, and if you try helping with his defender, we know you’ll pay. Additional positive: Dirk’s one-legged fadeaway is another one of the few truly indefensible shots in the game. Even the best defensive bigs are going to have issues defending my frontcourt.

Joining: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Round 2, Pick 15 – Team Turner: Wilt Chamberlain

He’s 7-2, 275 lbs of one bad man. Wilt Chamberlain holds many all-time game records that have yet to be touched. In fact, the closest to reach his single-game 100-point record is his would-be teammate here, Kobe Bryant. A CAREER 30-point and 20-rebound behemoth, Wilt was a dominator with an eerie blend of speed and power to rival just about anyone. Chamberlain could fit seamlessly with the athletic marvels of today, seeing as he dominated several events in track and field during his college years, and was a volleyball star after retiring from the NBA.  Sure, players from that time weren’t as athletic as today’s athletes, but Wilt the Stilt, like always, is the exception.

Joining: Kobe Bryant

Round 2, Pick 16 – Team Fuller: Oscar Robertson

After grabbing Magic Johnson with my first pick, I had hoped to steal Wilt Chamberlain as he slipped down the draft. Unfortunately, he just got picked, so I turned to the clear best player available: Oscar Robertson. The Big O is one of two players to ever average a triple-double and is the only player who ranks in the NBA’s top ten in points and assists per game. He’s an athletic marvel and historic playmaker. Between Oscar and Magic, the ball should fly around my squad, and they’ll form perhaps the most lethal guard tandem imaginable.

Joining: Magic Johnson

Round 2, Pick 17 – Team Hines: Giannis Antetokounmpo

James and Giannis — potential best duo all time? It’s a scary thought: two generational talents that can dominate both sides of the ball. They will put pressure on defenses at all times, especially in pick-and-rolls, and force teams to collapse and leave shooters open. A wing pairing like this would bring back similar terror to Jordan and Pippen.

Joining: LeBron James

Round 2, Pick 18 – Team Hodgson: Moses Malone

With the last pick in the second round I am going with Moses Malone. Jordan (my first pick) never had a big man that was even close to the talent that Moses Malone was. Malone himself has three MVP trophies on top of being a 13x All-Star and an 8x All-NBA player. He also has won an NBA championship himself. Malone is one of the best rebounders in the history of the league as he was the rebounding champ six different times. He can also hold his own on defense, making an All-Defensive team on two separate occasions. The most impressive aspect of Malone’s game was his offense. His best season included averages of 31.1 points and 14.7 rebounds, while logging 42.0 minutes per game. Malone is an absolute beast and I feel he is the perfect big to pair with Michael Jordan.

Joining: Michael Jordan

3rd Round

Round 3, Pick 19 – Team Hodgson: Charles Barkley

With back-to-back picks, I’ll go with Sir Charles Barkley next. Barkley can play either the 3 or the 4 as he is 6-foot-6 and an elite rebounder. He has an amazing resume with an MVP, 11 All-Star selections and 11 All-NBA nominations. Barkley is another guy who can come right in and make a huge impact on the offensive end. He is undersized but very strong, and can hold his own against opposing power forwards. When he gets to his spot he is not getting moved and is virtually unstoppable. With a Barkley-Malone frontcourt, rebounding should not be a problem. Barkley’s physicality is another part of his game that will be extremely impactful for my team. He’ll be dominant on a team that already has Michael Jordan and Moses Malone.

Joining: Michael Jordan, Moses Malone

Round 3, Pick 20 – Team Hines: Anthony Davis

AD is an elite two-way big that I believe is still underrated. I’m thrilled to get him in this spot as he’ll be a nightmare matchup for any opposing team. He will thrive in pick-and-rolls with both LeBron and Giannis while being more than capable of getting his own, especially when the game slow downs. AD anchors the defense with his rim protection and switching ability, adding to the already incredible size, length, athleticism and versatility of this team.

Joining: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Round 3, Pick 21 – Team Fuller: David Robinson

With my backcourt set, a defensive anchor sits atop the checklist. Robinson is a disciplined leader whose defense is somehow still underrated. The Admiral averaged at least 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game in each of his first seven seasons. His 1992 DPOY award and 1995 MVP honor underscore a relatively short but dominant NBA career. Robinson should feast on passes from Johnson and Robertson while battling with the league’s best bigs.

Joining: Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson

Round 3, Pick 22 – Team Turner: Kawhi Leonard

2019 finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is my small forward.  The SoCal native teams with two LA basketball icons (granted, from the other side of the Staples Center’s halls).  A legitimate two-way star, Kawhi brings offensive firepower as a three-level scorer and lockdown defense (5x all-defense, 2x DPOY).  His unselfishness and improved passing ability (5 assists in 19-20) will play big roles in this team. His relationship with Kobe Bryant also plays a part here, as the two shared a close bond in the mid-late 2010s.  Forming a fearsome twosome on the perimeter, Kawhi’s presence also gives Kobe something he never had: A star wing-man next to him. A Pippen, if you will.

Joining: Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain

Round 3, Pick 23 – Team Brooks: Scottie Pippen

With my lack of athleticism and lateral quickness so far, I felt I needed a defensive ace on the wing. Scottie Pippen is exactly that, plus a great offensive player. Starting Dirk at the four isn’t ideal defensively, so, when I drafted him, I knew I’d need a stud defensive 3 who could play at the 4 with another defensive wing off my bench. I want versatility on the defensive end, and Scottie definitely helps me get there.

Joining: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki

Round 3, Pick 24 – Team Caldwell: Dwyane Wade

Round 3, Pick 25 – Team Johnson: John Stockton

Stockton is a gifted passer, underrated defender and a sniper from deep. A playmaker and shooter like this next to Larry Bird is exactly what I wanted. They can play a little two-man game and rain threes if we need points in bunches. Stockton’s versatility is limited but he makes up for it with his shot-creating ability. Like Bird, he’s a great passer, made Karl Malone’s life easier every game, took control of his offense and understood the tempo of the game, and often dominated.

Joining: Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett

Round 3, Pick 26 – Team Zola: Karl Malone

Didn’t have to think too hard about this one. I was looking at other guys in this spot, but couldn’t believe my luck when I saw that Karl Malone fell all the way to me. With this pick, I’ve created perhaps the greatest and most skilled front court ever assembled with Hakeem-Malone-Durant. The combination of length and power defensively will give opposing teams fits. On the offensive end, Malone will thrive on fast breaks and provide a secondary post threat to Hakeem. With defenses having to choose which one of the two all-time bigs to focus on, Hakeem and Malone should trade off big nights pretty regularly. The next step for me will be to draft someone who can feed “The Mailman” outlet passes in transition.

Joining: Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Durant

Round 3, Pick 27 – Team Abreu: Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd will be the ultimate point guard for Russell and Duncan. For his whole career, Kidd was an elite passer and defender. His shooting developed dramatically throughout his career to the point where he was a genuine threat from beyond the arc. The added floor spacing and defense compliments both players mightily. Kidd comfortably ran various teams throughout his career, and his off-ball gravity will allow Duncan to dominate in the post. Defensively, Kidd is a disrupter and pesky defender. With the addition of a nine-time all-defensive selection and a pickpocket master, the trio of Kidd, Duncan and Russell will prove to be a formidable group to score on.

Joining: Tim Duncan, Bill Russell

OTHER ROUND RESULTS: Click here for Round 1 | Click here for Rounds 4-5

Agree or disagree with the picks? Comment your thoughts below.

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About Ethan Fuller

Hailing from Portsmouth, NH, Ethan is a journalism student at Boston University and writes about the Celtics for TLSM. His chief basketball teams are the Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Ethan is also a still-growing ultimate frisbee player.

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