NBA

TLSM’s All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft: Rounds 4-5

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TLSM is back with rounds four and five of our All-Time NBA Fantasy Draft! With each team’s “Big Three” filled out, our writers now look to finish off their loaded starting fives. Guards from James Harden to Jerry West are still available, as well as Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and more.

PREVIOUS ROUND RESULTS: Click here for Round 1 | Click here for Rounds 2-3

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 the fourth and fifth rounds, with explanations and thoughts from each writer on their selections.

Round 4

Round 4, Pick 28 – Team Abreu: James Harden

James Harden adds a much-needed scoring punch from all three levels. A thirty-point scorer over the past three years, Harden will be tough to stop. Harden has also played off the ball successfully in his time in Houston and Oklahoma City. The gravity from Kidd and Duncan will give Harden a lot of space on the offensive side of the ball, allowing him to score at will. Defensively, he is surrounded by three elite players, all of whom excel on and off-ball. Kidd, Duncan and Russell will undoubtedly mask the mistakes Harden will make, and the rebounding prowess of the frontcourt will allow Harden to leak out in transition.

Joining: Tim Duncan, Bill Russell, Jason Kidd

Round 4, Pick 29 – Team Zola: Isiah Thomas

I was glad to to snag one of the most gifted passers in league history with my fourth round pick. Averaging 9.3 assists per game for his career, Isiah Thomas will be the key to making this offense flow. With John Stockton off the board, Zeke is pretty much the next best complement for my 3rd round pick, Karl Malone. There will be no stopping those two when they get the ball in transition. On defense, Thomas has shown toughness and can lock up any of the best opposing point guards. With championship experience, he’ll immediately emerge as a leader on what is already a stacked team. And with a knowledge of how to win against guys like Jordan and Magic, he could be the major X-factor against any of the tough competition we face.

Joining: Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Durant, Karl Malone

Round 4, Pick 30 – Team Johnson: Dwight Howard

Now, we go BIG. This is Magic Dwight Howard, obviously. He was, like KG, an ungodly defensive talent. Crazy athleticism, shot-blocking prowess, and strength. Howard’s offensive game is lacking slightly if he has to score by himself (not that he couldn’t post up and destroy opponents), but when you have playmakers such as Stockton and Bird throwing him lobs all game, it makes his offense easy. Howard was also a great rebounder, which is something this team needs alongside KG. Size and strength to compliment Garnett’s skill and savvy down low.

Joining: Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, John Stockton

Round 4, Pick 31 – Team Caldwell: Klay Thompson

With my fourth pick, I pick up the second member of one of the greatest backcourts ever – Klay Thompson. In my lineup, he’ll have to play up at the 3, but I’m not worried. Klay is an incredible defender, and his 6’7 frame should allow him to play up just fine. Pairing him with Steph will allow them to play at maximum effectiveness, as they have for years now. I think my perimeter trio will give opponents headaches because of how much movement there will be.

Joining: Shaquille O’Neal, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade

Round 4, Pick 32 – Team Brooks: Chris Paul

Another defender here was important, and being able to get one with Paul’s additional offensive skill set was an added bonus. With our big men, we’re going to be playing a lot of half court basketball. I’ll take Paul any day of the week as the guy to get us into our offense. Additionally, a CP3-Dirk pick-and-pop game is going to be a major stress point for any defense.

Joining: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, Scottie Pippen

Round 4, Pick 33 – Team Turner: Gary Payton

At guard, one of the more underappreciated stars of his position: the Glove, Gary Payton. He is a 9x All-Star, 9x all-NBA, 9x all-defense and the 95-96 Defensive Player of the Year. A ferocious defender, irritant, and consistent playmaker, Payton’s fit next to Kobe, Kawhi, and Wilt lets you know one thing: you’re going to work hard for every single bucket you get.  Over his 18-year career, GP averaged 6.7 assists and 1.8 steals a game; he is tenth all-time in career assists and fourth all-time in career steals.  And he could certainly score – between 94-95 and 02-03 he never averaged less than 19.2 points per game.

Joining: Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Kawhi Leonard

Round 4, Pick 34 – Team Fuller: Julius Erving

To squeeze every ounce of playmaking Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson have to offer, they need slashers and scorers. Dr. J is the best wing available and best scorer on the table. He made the All-Star game in each of his 11 NBA seasons (not to mention his ABA dominance), becoming the original highlight-reel wing. His basketball DNA lived on through Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant and down to the modern dunkers we watch today. Erving’s NBA career averages of 22 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game show his value is not just tied to scoring. But on my team, with passes coming from two of the league’s greatest playmakers, Dr. J will have every opportunity to dunk on the opposition.

Joining: Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson

Round 4, Pick 35 – Team Hines: Ray Allen

Jesus and the King reunited in their primes! The purest shooting stroke ever gets the opportunity to feast on open threes due to the attention teams must pay to James and Giannis, while keeping the floor spaced for them. Allen can play on and off the ball, bringing tough shot making, clutch shooting and forgotten athleticism.

Joining: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis

Round 4, Pick 36 – Team Hodgson: Allen Iverson

At the back end of the fourth I am going with one of the best scorers ever in Allen Iverson. This pick was easy for me, pairing Jordan with a guy who is virtually unstoppable. Iverson sports career averages of 26.7 points and 6.2 assists per game. He also has an MVP trophy, has been to 11 All-Star games, and is a four-time scoring champ. Iverson is another undersized guard but is a pest defensively, as he led the league in steals on three separate occasions. The Answer is a truly special scorer and will force defenses to cover both Jordan and himself one-on-one, which is a nearly impossible task. Iverson brings consistent scoring, solid defense and a killer mentality to a team that is already loaded offensively.

Joining: Michael Jordan, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley

Round 5

Round 5, Pick 37 – Team Hodgson: Dominique Wilkins

Rounding out my starting five is going to be the high-flying Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins brings another explosive offensive piece to the team. He is a 6’8 athletic monster who can beat you inside and out. Wilkins has career averages of 24.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. His resume includes nine All-Star selections, seven all-NBA selections and one scoring champ. Wilkins can score from inside and out, and his athleticism and size can cover most wings. The best thing about adding Dominique Wilkins is how versitile the offense becomes. We can run in transition better then almost anyone, we can dominate in half-court offense, and all five of my starters can take a defender one-on-one. Wilkins is a freak of nature and, with the addition of him to the lineup, all I am going to say is: good luck stopping this starting five.

Joining: Michael Jordan, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson

Round 5, Pick 38 – Team Hines: Reggie Miller

In continuing to add shooting and size around James and Giannis, Miller is not only an all-time great shooter, but an all-time great clutch performer. He will provide both off-ball and on-ball scoring, operating in a similar manner as Allen. Miller is gritty, confident, and plays without fear. All high quality intangibles that I value.

Joining: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Ray Allen

Round 5, Pick 39 – Team Fuller: Dennis Rodman

The one skill my squad lacks is long-range shooting. But tragically, Team Hines snatched both of my prime targets — Ray Allen and Reggie Miller — within four picks. Instead of reaching for a perimeter threat, I’ve decided to embrace my team’s length, athleticism and defensive prowess, and who better to represent those values than Dennis Rodman? As perhaps the greatest defender and rebounder ever, Rodman joins David Robinson to form a behemoth of a frontcourt to swallow up opposing slashers. Offensively, he can focus on the glass and finish off easy chances from Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. Rodman is the perfect low-usage complement for my starting five.

Joining: Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, David Robinson, Julius Erving

Round 5, Pick 40 – Team Turner: Pascal Siakam

The newest star on this list, but one not to be overlooked — he is an NBA champion after all.  Pascal Siakam’s rise to stardom over the last two seasons has been a joy to experience. A versatile defender from day one, his growing offensive repertoire helped will the Raptors win their first title in 2019, the same year he won Most Improved Player.  Once Kawhi left, the focus shifted to Siakam as the guy for the Raptors, and he did not disappoint.  In the 2019-20 season, Siakam’s scoring increased by seven points to 23 PPG.  He shot the three-ball more, averaging 36 percent from beyond the arc.  His length, athleticism and versatility at the four position, next to a prime Wilt Chamberlain, makes for a scary frontcourt duo representing the past and future of the big man. While he won’t need the ball much, he won’t disappoint when he has it.  And he’ll impact the game without it.

Joining: Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Kawhi Leonard, Gary Payton

Round 5, Pick 41 – Team Brooks: Tracy McGrady

T-Mac as my final starter is the perfect fit. His size and offensive skill set brings the versatility I desire, and he can be the focal point of the offense when we call upon him. This pick might have surprised some, but I think that’s because people underappreciate just how good McGrady was at his peak. Adding to his value on my team, I needed someone here that I could stagger minutes with Chris Paul. My bench is going to be heavily defensive, with one guy, maybe two, who is a nightmare matchup. This will depend on how the board falls.

Joining: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dirk Nowitzki, Scottie Pippen, Chris Paul

Round 5, Pick 42 – Team Caldwell: Chris Webber

To round out my starting five, I needed a power forward. I was looking for a good passer that can help space the floor. Chris Webber is my choice. He was a bit ahead of his time, and would thrive in today’s game. His playmaking makes him the perfect complementary piece to the rest of my team. It will allow me to let Steph play off-ball some. Webber can also score and rebound, which is a huge plus.

Joining: Shaquille O’Neal, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, Klay Thompson

Round 5, Pick 43 – Team Johnson: Vince Carter

One thing this team was lacking is that gunner. Scoring points on flashy dunks, threes, and beautiful yet destructive alley oops. Carter had it all on that end. He isn’t a fantastic defender but if he’s cutting baseline and looking for a lob or pass from Bird and Stockton, watch your head. He can score in multiple ways: isolation scoring was great, he can play off-ball if he has to, but most of his touches would be in space where he can get crafty and explode to the rim. Carter is the boost in perimeter offense we needed.

Joining: Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, John Stockton, Dwight Howard

Round 5, Pick 44 – Team Zola: Jerry West

I feel like I’ve said this for most of my picks, but how is this guy still available? The NBA’s logo, and one of the best scorers ever, Jerry West will slide in nicely at shooting guard to round out the starting five. He’s a little undersized at the 2, but our team up to this point is big enough and strong enough defensively to make up for any disadvantage in that regard. When West played, there was no three-point line, but he still found a way to be a prolific scorer – even averaging over 40 points per game during the 1965 playoffs. Today he’d be a dynamic threat on offense, scoring at will with the added benefit of a three-point shot. Put him next to Durant on the perimeter, and defenses would be lost trying to stop the two star scorers.

Joining: Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Durant, Karl Malone, Isiah Thomas

Round 5, Pick 45 – Team Abreu: Paul George

With Scottie Pippen, Kawhi Leonard and Gary Payton all off the board, Paul George may be the best option to stop the likes of MJ, LeBron and Magic. George also provides much-needed spacing for Duncan to operate in the post. George thrived with an elite point guard in Russell Westbrook, and will only reap further rewards with Jason Kidd and James Harden. Being the third option offensively, George can navigate through a lot of off-ball actions and will have the luxury of lesser defends being tasked to guard him. Defensively, his length and switching-ability provide flexibility to defend all positions on the court. He’ll also have the luxury of being a weak side defender, a skill he has honed.

Joining: Tim Duncan, Bill Russell, Jason Kidd, James Harden

PREVIOUS ROUND RESULTS: Click here for Round 1 | Click here for Rounds 2-3

Stay tuned for a look at how each bench shapes up, as well as final cases for each team!

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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