The Salary Capped Dream Team

Flying Haque approached me with an interesting hypothetical some time ago.  This set me back for two reasons: first, that he was capable of producing a stimulating question and second because it was inventive and challenged my basketball knowledge.  He asked me to give him, my all-time NBA Dream Team including a sixth man.  I responded, “Easy: Magic ‘84[1], Jordan ‘93, Bird ‘85, Duncan ‘02, Kareem ‘76 and Shaq ‘01 coming off the bench. Haque responded, “I want you to give me your starting five and a sixth man but with salary cap restrictions.”  My ears perked up; I started salivating at the mouth, something like a dog in Pavlov’s lab room.  Haque pressed forth relentlessly, “You are free to choose from any players since the mid ‘80’s, but are limited to 2 maximum deals (14-20 million per year), 2 mid-level deals (7 to 13 million) and 2 low-level deals (1-5 million.)”[2]

The scenarios started bouncing around in my head, a plethora of NBA talent to choose from, years of basketball greatness at my disposal, super general manager for a day!  Naturally, we decided to permit the inclusion of both current and historic talent.  The catch would be adjusting players to the projected cap figures of today.  Thus, Scottie Pippen, though a mid-level contract throughout his career, would count as a max deal (the same would hold for Bird, Magic, etc.)[3] Moreover, we settled on choosing players from specific years.  This is where we sought to separate the basketball experts from the fakers.  Put simply, I could pick MJ for a max deal, but would have to pick a specific MJ.  While he was distinctly great throughout his career –‘88/’91/’93/’96/’98/’02[4] – he underwent both mental and physical transformations.[5]

Our final qualifier would be to produce a functional team.  The team would not necessarily be a collection of the most talented.  Well, strike that, it could be.  One could look up the “statistically best” and fit them together in some elaborate matrix; not worrying about placing players in their traditional positions.  I sought to avoid that trap by creating a team predicated on rebounding, defending, spacing, and leveling.  Consequently, my team’s alpha dog would command a team full of soldiers.  These guys would do their part to win rather than competing for individual glory or statistical achievements.  Additionally, I sought to incorporate a unique player that could play multiple positions.  This would allow my team to adjust against innovative rosters.  If I were an idiot, the jury is still out on that, I could put MJ and Kobe on the same team.  However, that would raise a litany of chemistry issues, not to mention the threat a dominant frontcourt would present that team.  As “FromMontanatoCrabtree” once said, “Oh … that’s, that’s not gonna work.”

Thus, after days, weeks, even months of deliberation, I submit my team:

Before giving you “what I will call”[6] the Salary Capped Dream Team, here are two compelling squads that I like, but do not have what it takes to beat the SCDT.

Team 2








The leadership between Bryant, Duncan, Parrish, and Jackson would keep this team together through the most tumultuous of times.   The sturdy defensive frontcourt would help them match up with any team.  On the perimeter, one could switch Prince onto any small-forward or two-guard and lock them down, just ask Kobe Bryant circa 2004.  All this with two of the top-ten greatest of all-time equates to serious trouble.  Think back to the Laker teams of Shaq and Kobe, and then inject them with steroids, more talent, and better leadership.  I wanted to put Kobe ’07 version on this team, but figured he is the one player in modern NBA history that Tim Duncan would not get along with.

Team 1





C – SHAQ ‘01- MAX



Speaking of Laker teams on steroids, four of the six members of this team have graced the purple and yellow.  Having Shaq, Noah, and Cooper holding down the frontcourt would be like having a foursome with Halle Berry, Britney Spears, and Mila Kunis (and by foursome I mean an outing on the golf course, of course.) Michael Cooper would enhance the defensively pedestrian backcourt.  At the end of games, this team could spread the court and add the clutch shooting of Horry.  With Magic, the fourth best player to have ever picked up a basketball, ’01 Shaq, the most dominant force the league has ever seen, and Ginobili, a fearless scorer that compliments the other pieces, this team is “redic.”









Defense wins; absolute defense wins absolutely. This team is so refined and pragmatically constructed, that I have to stop for a second and admire my work.

Established upon defense, this team is the perfect mixture of leadership, heart, talent, and discipline.  A factor worth noting, I went with MJ from the 1998 season over MJ from the 1993 season.  Big reason being, with Hakeem and his demand for the basketball, I would be worried about chemistry issues with ’93 Jordan, who by some accounts was the greatest of the MJ’s.  By 1998 his athleticism had noticeably diminished while his leadership, basketball IQ, and will to win had peaked.  He understood “The Secret”[8] and what it took to win at all costs.

Hakeem in 1990 would destroy just about any center in the history of basketball.  Not only was he averaging fourteen rebounds and nearly five blocks a game, he was pouring in an efficient twenty-four points a game on .500% shooting.  Putting Rasheed Wallace, a natural four, next to The Dream, would be like putting Rees’s Peanut Butter Cups in vanilla ice cream.  The ice cream alone is great, but peanut butter cups take it to another level.  While I may have paid a bit much, giving up a mid-level exception to get Wallace, the gains in rebounding and lockdown defense more than makes up for it.  As the “Oscillator,” Dennis Rodman could play the four, three, or two. Given his lack of minutes on the Pistons, he was able to exert a great amount of energy covering multiple positions on the floor.  While he would play limited minutes and be an obvious liability on offense, he is a steal for any team looking to put in an all-purpose, low-level exception on their squad.  Imagine trying to get one offense rebound against this team – Hakeem, Wallace, Rodman … .

If need be, I could move Rodman to the four, bring in my sixth man, and stretch the floor to keep teams from doubling The Dream or His Airness.  Speaking of my sixth man, Deltlef Schrempf, the Leverkusian sensation himself was the classic sharp shooter.  All I remember about this guy is that he could light it up from anywhere on the floor.  During the 94-95 season, he averaged above .500% from the floor and beyond the arc.  While his defense was mediocre, he would help this team spread the floor, and serve as a legitimate third scoring option when Jordan and Hakeem didn’t have it going (which, for all practice purposes, would never happen.)  Finally, the leadership, grit, unselfishness, quick release, and defensive juggernaut that is, Joe Dumars makes him my favorite mid-level contract available.  While he switched positions from the shooting guard to point guard, I am confident he would serve this team resourcefully (I dont need a traditional point to win games, see Ron Harper re: second three-peat.)  Moreover, having him, Rodman and MJ on the wing would be a nightmare for any combination of backcourt players.

Get your basketballpedia’s out, visit, talk to the older generation who saw the stars of the 80’s, and watch as many youtube game tapes as you can. Do all that or just wing it.  Either way, I doubt you will be able to put together a team that could beat this one.  Game on.

[1] All of these dates are based on the latter half of each season.  Therefore, Magic’s ‘84 season is the 1983, not the 1984-85 season.

[2] Currently the league cap is roughly 58 million; the mid-level exception is about 5.75 million.  For this hypothetical, lets throw this all out and just go with the three levels listed.

[3] Given how cumbersome it would be to create a set of concrete qualifiers, we proceeded with a low bar for player placement in one of the three levels.  Ultimately, we can debate if Chris Mullin is a mid-level or max deal, but we did not want to handicapped the discussion on those matters.  Thus the threshold is low: Could one envision a rational argument placing Player X in the respective field.  While I consider Mullin a max deal -his numbers, for a five year span, are on par with Kobe Bryant’s and Dwayne Wade’s– others might consider him a mid.

[4] If requested, I will submit a cornucopia of articles detailing my humble, at times clouded, assessment of 23.  I think there is a lot to be said about the Jordan of the 87-88 season; as compared to the 92-93 season; as compared to the 97-98 season.

[5] We got this idea from “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons -a great read.  Go pick it up after you read all the articles on

[6] Bruce Ackerman, American constitutional law scholar, has this really annoying tendency to name new concepts in his articles by writing out “I shall name it …” or “I shall call it…” so I figured I’d add to the absurdity.

[7] While Kobe’s most outstanding statistical seasons were arguably ‘06,’07 (won the MVP), and ’08 (when he was going on offensive tirades of 40 and 50 point games); the Kobe I’d choose for this team is from 2008-09 season where he displayed a willingness to defer and include his teammates.  Also, 24’s best shooting percentage for a season was in ‘09.

[8] Seriously go get The Book of Basketball.

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26 Responses to The Salary Capped Dream Team

  1. D-Lord says:

    1) Dumars wasn’t a PG. You’re dumb.

    2) How do you justify Rodman as a low salary guy considering A) he was an All Star that year, and B) his team just won back to back championships. You’re more dumb.

    3) Your salary levels make no sense.

    4) Rodman and Wallace as your forwards is dumb. No production whatsoever. The defense gets to play 5 on 3, and your team has no point guard. Moron.

    5) Wallace is woefully overrated. He can’t defend on the ball. He’ll get murdered by any team with a PF worth a shit. Your only hope is to slide Hakeem down or Rodman up, but then this just creates even more mismatch problems.

    6) Detlef was worthless by the mid-1990s. Terrible selection. Replace him with a Peja or Reggie Miller and you might have something.

    7) This made me lolz: “Hakeem in 1990 would destroy just about any center in the history of basketball”

    • pakastallion says:


      I am still unsure as to whether this is a genuine response or a prank. If it is the former, I thank you for taking the time to read the article and for your comments:

      1) Joe played the point (a quick Google search will clarify this). Also, there were no qualifiers limiting players by positions, I could have put, ya boi, Peja, at point if I wanted.
      2) If you read the piece, in its entirety, you would have noticed the low threshold (see footnote 3) I placed on putting players in the Max, Mid, Low exception levels. This was so we could avoid mundane discussion about why a guy who came off the bench and only played half the game is not a mid-level deal (though you might be right he could be a mid) I will give you the all-star point, but your second point is silly. By that logic Sasha “The Machine” Vujacic would be a mid deal. Speaking of an overrated sharp-shooter, why not take him over, ya boi, Peja?
      3) See footnote 2. Didn’t anyone ever teach you to read the footnotes?
      4) Given the offense we’d run with these players: the triangle (that’s the offense Phil Jackson has run for about a decade and half, and yes it has to do with triangles) the “glaring liabilities of Wallace and Rodman” would be mitigated via ball movement, cuts to the basket, back picks, rotations, and easy lay-ups off doubles (that’s how the triangle works.) Further, you don’t need a traditional point in the triangle or even an adequate point for that matter (See Ron “I played the two my whole life and switched to point” Harper.) Finally, this team is predicated on defense. Given that, teams would struggle to break 85. I am pretty confident a team with MJ and Hakeem could muster 90 points a game, but you are right … ya boi, Peja, would def put us over the hill.
      5) Woefully overrated? (see Shaq v. Wallace, 34 Nbafinals 3 (June 2004.) Defensive POTY: ‘02/’03/’05/’06. All-Defense (1st Team): ‘02/’03/’04/’05/’06. All-NBA (2nd/3rd Team): ‘02/’03/’04/’05/’06… Yup woefully overrated. And the whole “horrible off ball defender,” is what people that never watch specific players play say because it sounds authoritative and hard to check. The problem is I was old enough to watch the Pistons consistently, so don’t confuse Ben (post-Detroit) with Ben (Detroit). Source:
      6) Im surprised -given your second point of contention- that you’d say replace DS with Reggie. I had DS as a low level exception … are you trying to say Reggie Miller is a low exception? And you were getting on me about DRod. Further, you saying DS was worthless by the mid 90s is another one of those things people who don’t actually watch the games throw out in hopes that it will stick. Unfortunately for you, I did my homework: his numbers were markedly consistent from ’90 to ’99. Moreover, he had a career year in ‘95 both in terms of shooting and scoring …. wait for it …’95 season: 19pts, 4ast, 6 reb per while shooting .523 from the field and .514 from beyond the arch. Best season … Worthless … same thing, right? Source: AND I cannot let the Peja thing go… seriously? You saw the work, or lack of work this dude did in the playoffs… at least DS showed up against the 72-10 Bulls, he wasn’t forgetting how to shoot a basketball in a game seven wide open in the corner at home. Peja, ya boi: best shooting percentages in his career: field-.484 (‘02) best from three: .441 (’08) so much for your sharp shooter theory. As the Key says, “Come on mannn” … do your homework. Source:
      7) Finally, just to make sure I’m getting this straight, me saying “Hakeem in 1990 would destroy just about any center in the history of basketball” is false? Fair enough, let me punt back to you … give me 8 centers in the history of the league that Hakeem couldn’t/wouldn’t destroy. Let me help you: 1) Shaq, in his prime-though I think the two would dual to a draw- (see 1995 finals sweep); 2) Kareem, though I think the two would dual to a draw; 3) Wilt, though I think the two would dual to a draw… and that’s about it.. okay I’ll give you 5) Russell –even though he had a limited offensive game and 6)Bill Walton (but I don’t really believe this one)… humm only six centers in the 65 year history of the NBA that Hakeem might not be able to dominate… seems to qualify as “just about any” to me. Just in case you need help looking up the greatest centers of all time:

      SO, this prob was a prank, because no serious fan would subscribe to D-Lo’s arguments. So… haha.. you got me to waste my time responding.

      If this is a genuine comment, while I completely disagree with 5 of your 7 points, and take issue with 7 of your 7 points; I really appreciate you taking the time to read the article and commenting. You helped get some discussion going. By all means, feel free to continue your ad hominem attacks and pedestrian arguments.

      • Lord says:

        1. Isaiah was the true PG of those teams, but I suppose Dumars played some as well. I just figured after ‘months of deliberation’ you could come up with a better PG than…well….someone who wasn’t really the main PG on their team.

        2. I don’t care about your footnotes. That was an ‘and’ between points ‘A’ and ‘B’. Not an ‘or’. You’re dumb.

        2a. This whole website is mundane discussion.

        3. See point 2.

        4. Cool story.

        5. Shaq wasn’t the same by 2004 and everybody knows it. He was a fat shell of his former self. I’ll admit that Wallace was a great help defender and that’s where he got the majority of his blocks, but in terms of playing man-on-man defense, he was merely average. You can try to discount my point all you want by touting how much you watched him play and concluding [I guess you call it a conclusion] that my points are clearly wrong. But the fact is, your statement about how much you watched Wallace play doesn’t really refute anything I said. You claim my point is merely made to sound authoritative, but then your pro-Wallace argument is essentially ‘I watched the Pistons a lot, trust me.’

        6. You’re right, Miller is probably a mid salary guy, I wasn’t thinking in terms of who to replace in terms of salary, just in terms of somebody actually worth a damn.

        So this 1995 Detlef season that was his ‘best season’ ever is in the low salary range? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t talk about how great this guy is and then pay him nothing.

        I think his .514 3 point % is very misleading, considering he only shot two 3-pointers per game. I’m guessing you wanted someone there to stretch the floor as you work Hakeem inside, which is why I suggested Miller or Peja. While DS had higher 3 point shooting percentages than Peja, he shot a fraction of the number of 3 point shots. DS’s career high in 3 point attempts was 181, while Peja broke 350 attempts 9 times in his career. And let me stop you before you make the argument that you can merely extrapolate DS’s percentages to Peja’s attempts, because that’s just naive. If I need a shooter, I’d rather have the guy who’s shooting 7 shots per game at 43% than the guy who’s shooting 2 shots per game at 50%. Conversely, you want the ‘shooter’ who is really good at 2 shots per game, fair enough.

        W/r/t Peja, is the ‘ya boi’ some sort of Wilbon-esque bit that you’re doing that you think is still hip and trendy? This one is actually a serious question.

        7. Vague qualifiers are fun. We can argue over semantics on this one if you want. I agree with your response, if you don’t count the 6-10 centers that were better or equal to Hakeem [of the list of centers that Hakeem would not dominate, you can add Moses, DRob, DHoward, and mid-80s Ewing], then he would dominate ‘just about any center’. So basically we’re arguing over exactly how many your vaguely worded proclamation of ‘just about any’ is. When talking about the greatest basketball players who ever lived, I suppose I assumed ‘just about any’ to be closer to 1 or 2 or 3. Apparently for you, it’s closer to 5 or 8 or 10. No difference, merely semantics.

        Final 2 points: 1) lolz @ you citing to the bleacher report. That website is trash. 2) You might need to check what ad hominem means.

  2. Adnan says:

    Peja on an all time team? Something about having one of the biggest chokers in history seems counter-intuitive for the purposes of an all-time team.

  3. Lord says:

    Peja doesn’t make less sense than Detlef [what are Detlef’s career post-season achievements?], and if you’re going for a shooter to stretch the floor, Peja makes infinitely more sense.

    • pakastallion says:


      Standard debate tactic … if you are categorically wrong on a point, bring up qualifiers so that you can say yea but and flip the argument. Lets recap:
      1. Joe played point … you were wrong.
      2. You don’t care about the footnotes’ but fail to admit they addressed your pressing concerns … you were wrong.
      a. Instead of attacking the article or the argument you resort to attacking the blog… ad hom..wait what?
      3. “Cool story is your way of saying … ?? Whoops forgot to check that out? Or that … you were wrong?
      4. On this one, I agree with you. I resorted to the lame “I saw him play” argument. Good job calling me out, respect. However, you still haven’t substantiated your claim that he was a bad one on one defender. So you are basically running off the flawed logic I was peddling. Fact is both our positions are hard to prove because there is no magical stat that quantifies it. I pointed to the Shaq 2004 series, which you agreed Wallace won, but you rebutted with it wasn’t the same Shaq. That works. We still have the proof prob on both sides. I alluded to his impressive accomplishments, but still that doesn’t settle if he was a good on ball defender. Short of a sit down/ breakdown of his games, I don’t see either of us winning this point. I purpose a “push” as ya boi, Wilbon loves to say (though you have trouble conceding the sky is blue, so I wont hold my breath.)
      5. You totally dodged the point where you said DS was worthless by ’95 … you were wrong. Also, just because he took less shots does not make him an inferior shooter to Peja, but I hear your point. You were still awfully wrong about the worthless comment.
      6. So you think David Robinson wouldn’t get destroyed by Hakeem? Sorry it already happened, look it up. Hakeem destroyed Ewing, look it up. Howard… stop it, the mundane reader(s) of this blog just lost all respect for you. M.Malone was great but I doubt he would dominate Hakeem on the offensive end; I’m guessing your argument is predicated on his defensive ability? Works for me. Let’s be realistic then and replace Walton with Malone. So yea, I got 5 centers he wouldn’t destroy… your count? And I still missed the part where that doesn’t qualify as just about every? … you were wrong.
      7. Is lolz still hip and trendy? Omgz, bro!
      8. Bleacher report is garbage? One sec… let me look up Ad hommamam… YUP, I encourage you to do the same.

      Thanks for the perspective D-Lo its been a pleasure hearing your insight on this most mundane of blogs.

      • Lord says:

        1. Seriously man? Just stop now. (Dumars is considered one of the best shooting guards of his era.) (One of the top shooting guards of his era…) (One of the greatest defensive players and shooting guards of all time, Joe Dumars was terrific…) [Note: I only put this source in mockingly. BR is still garbage] (Number 10 on the list of greatest SGs of all time) (Initially a shooting guard, Dumars moved over to point guard following Thomas’s retirement in 1994…)

        For the 1990 season, Thomas averaged 9.4 assists per game, Dumars averaged 5.

        Just admit you’re wrong.

        2. I just didn’t read the footnotes.

        2a.. ‘Instead of attacking the article’ — umm what do you think I’ve been doing?

        3. ‘Cool story’ is my way of saying that your point is lazy and not worth refuting.

        4. Agree.

        5. I agree DS wasn’t worthless, but I still contend that his epic 1995 season raises him above a low salary level.

        6. I think Hakeem would win the matchup with DRob, Ewing, Howard, etc, but that doesn’t mean he would dominate them. I’m not saying any of them are better than Hakeem, but I think would be plenty competitive to the point of not being dominated.

        I’m confused by your evaluation of the nature of individual matchups. Your initial response had a few centers dueling to a draw with Hakeem. However, your last response [specifically the sentence re: Moses] leads me to believe that in any given matchup, you think either Player A dominates B, or B dominates A, with no in-between or gray area in between. I also doubt that Moses would dominate Hakeem on the offensive end; Hakeem was a great defender. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the converse is true either. Just because Moses doesn’t dominate doesn’t mean that Hakeem does dominate. This is all I’m saying. Hakeem is definitely better than DRob, Ewing, Howard, and probably Walton and a few others as well, but I don’t think he would dominate all of them on a consistent basis as you seem to contend. Advantage Hakeem? Sure. Domination? Doubtful.

        I’m assuming you’re referring to the 1995 series between the Spurs and Rockets. I agree that Hakeem was great that series, but it’s not like Robinson get completely shut down that series; DRob still put up pretty solid numbers. So I agree that Hakeem was better in that series, but I wouldn’t say dominated. Don’t believe everything that Simmons writes.

        Re: Ewing getting ‘destroyed’ by Hakeem, look at the box scores from 1994 NBA Finals. By my math, for the series, Hakeem averaged ~ 27pts and 9 rebounds. Very solid numbers. Ewing averaged ~19pts and 12.5 rebounds. Fewer points, more rebounds. I concede that Hakeem had the better series, but in no way did Ewing get destroyed.

        Re: Howard, I’m not sure why you completely dismiss him without any reasoning whatsoever. I think his quickness and athleticism would make him a contender in pretty much any matchup. There has never been a guy with that size who also has that type of athleticism. The dude is a freak. While I’m not saying Howard is better than Hakeem, I’m saying he would not get dominated. With his quickness, Howard would be able to keep up with Hakeem’s finesse game. It’s almost impossible to really say, because Hakeem never played against anyone as athletic as Howard [DRob is the closest, but that comparison doesn’t really do justice to Howard’s athleticism], and there really isn’t a current center in the NBA who adequately compares to Hakeem. However, I think it’s somewhat naive to just dismiss Howard summarily.

        Final thoughts: Yes, Bleacher report is garbage. You didn’t even answer my one serious question re: Wilbon. I’m still not entirely sure whether or not you know what ad hominem means. Let me help you out —

  4. Adnan says:

    What are Peja’s post-season accomplishments? Just being there shouldn’t count.

  5. SwagFlu says:

    1. Dumars is a great defender and shooter, but he doesn’t have the ball-handling or decision making skills to lead this team or feed Hakeem. And upstanding player and a great GM other than the “Darko Debacle,” he doesn’t belong here. You would be better off with a 2009 version of Jose Calderon.

    2. Dennis Rodman at the 3 is a joke, right?
    I imagine you put Rodman on this team for his rebounding potential, which is something he won’t be able to do if opposing SF’s pull him out to the 3-point line.

    Also, other than his putbacks, he is a useless offensive player. He could never create for himself and was horrible at the line, if he ever even got there.

    I do agree that at some point in his career Rodman could guard anyone from the 1-4, but at the end of the day, he was known for his rebounding. When people think of Rodman, they don’t envision him guarding players like Paul Pierce, Dominique Wilkins, or Dr. J. We think of the player that pulled down 15 boards a game. Why not go with drama-free, team players like Kirilenko or even Bruce Bowen at the 3?
    AK47 could defend any position from 2-5, block shots, grab boards, and score.
    With a dominant big man in the paint (Tim Duncan), Bruce Bowen could shut down any 1, 2, or 3 during the early 2000’s in addition to spreading the defense with his high 3pt%. Hakeem is >= Tim Duncan and I’m certain that the duo of Hakeem + Ben Wallace will not miss any rebounds, making Rodman useless.

    3. Ben Wallace went from underrated to overpaid the moment he signed his fat deal. But that aside, why would you want a second offensive liability on your team? Hakeem’s scoring prowess is not enough to countervail the combined offensive ineptness of Rodman + Wallace.

    4. You also mentioned that you wanted to create a team that has good chemistry and teamwork. If that was really the case, why would you want Jordan on your squad?

    • pakastallion says:

      Swag Flu,

      Really appreciate the comments.

      1) I’ll have to push back on Jose Calderon, but I hear your point on Joe’s ball handling. My retort would be Ron Harper. Same situation, just not as good as Joe. Give me Joe and his defense and we’ll figure out how to get the ball in the post to Hakeem and Jordan… Phil managed to do it with Ron while still wining titles.

      2)If you watch tapes from Dennis Rodman’s 1988-89 season (a year before he made the all-star team) he was defending Scottie Pippin religiously. We arent talking about the Rodman of the Spurs or Bulls. Im talking when he played limited minutes and was asked to guard positions 2-4 on the floor, and when they saw Magic 1-4.

      I really liked AK-47 and Bowen, but couldn’t resist the urge to take Rodman. I do think those are great pieces to put on a team though. I would temper the 2-5 ability of AK for a 2-4 range.

      3) D-Lo alluded to this point and I think it is a strong one. Those are two glaring liabilities on offense, but I can take either out and bring in DS which would open the floor. You might be thinking that is still not enough. I am confident that this team will hold opponents to 80/85 points. Between Joe, DS, Hakeem, and MJ we would get 90/95. (obviously control these numbers with a full roster.)

      4) Def want MJ. no matter what. The only decision was which MJ to take, if I had taken the ’88/’91/ even ’93 MJ, the argument and the youtube clip might hold. Fact of the matter is ’98 MJ, whether because of maturity or necessity, changed as a player. Despite his diminished athletic abilities he was able to transform his game. One of the biggest transformations we saw was in his leadership ’96/’97/’98 and his willingness to understand his teammates wanted it just as much as he did. So yea, as the clip shows, he was hella passionate and took a swing at Steve, his teams did not always love him. But you do not want your leader to be best friends with everyone either. All of those Bulls teams respected him enough to follow him into battle and put it on the line for him (much like we are finally seeing with Kobe and his teammates.) Give me a leader that commands respect, is not despised, and understands the Secret. Give me ’98 MJ and we are good.

      I would love to see you put together a team though! You obviously display a sophistication with the history of the game. I like your AK-47 and BB suggestions. Throw two max deal mega stars and two mid level all stars with em and we can debate some more.

      Thanks so much for the insight!

  6. Yo Pakastallion this is a good piece. You know what you’re talking about. Though I need to learn more about basketball, this is a well written article that I’m immersing myself in with the hope of learning more.

    • pakastallion says:


      Thanks for the kind words! If you are looking for an easy read on the history of basketball, I definitely recommend The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons OR Basketball: A History of Hoops by Mark Stewart. Glad you enjoyed the piece!

  7. pakastallion says:


    we are just going to have to disagree on 1-3.

    4 is settled.

    5 I see your point. though disagree.

    6 You are right I shouldn’t dismiss Howard, though I think Howard’s raw athletic ability is a lot like Shaq’s Orlando days and Hakeem did dominate him. We are going to have to disagree on Ewing and David. I agreed with you on Malone.

    7 I understand you thought the piece was by your friend, but when you tone down the insults, you make decent points, and some arguments I just disagree with. I’d really like to hear a 6 man team from you. Im sure it will enhance the readers perspectives.

    All bull shit aside – enjoyed the lively debate. Please keep the remarks coming!

  8. Amro says:

    1) Magic Johnson whenever, I just want a 6’10 PG for the alley-oops MAX
    2) Vince Carter ’01, unless he’s a max, then Bruce Bowen MID
    3) Eddie Robinson ’03 LOW
    4) Rasheed Wallace ’09 MID
    5) Dwight Howard ’11 MAX

    6th man: Nate Robinson ’10? If not, Jamaal Crawford ’05. LOW

    Thinking about putting in MJ for Magic…..

  9. pakastallion says:


    I love any combo of Magic and a big, but i’d hesitate to liking this squad too much. I just don’t think Howard will ever be as good as Kareem, and we saw what Magic and Kareem were able to do. Also, I think there is a agreed upon formula: spend your max deals on a big who dominates the post and a perimeter player who handles the floor. With Howard, your team would be vulnerable against teams with: Shaq and Hakeem. Also, foregoing MJ on this team raises issues of who is going to take those games over when shit isn’t going right, and who is going to make that clutch game winner. Magic could do it now and again, but def not like larry legend, 23, and the mamba.

    I love Rasheed at the 4 spot. I would have taken Rasheed version ’04 but ’09 was good as well. If there was one position and one player that I kept going back and forth on making my team it was Sheed. Ultimately, I went with Bwall instead of Rwall, BUT MAYBE SHOULD HAVE GONE WITH SHEED.

    I like Eddie Robinson. This move makes me think you are just stacking athletic talent… which is fine , but I would drop him and pick up Tayshaun ’05 (need a more active scorer as opposed to ’03/’04) instead. Also, I dont think Eddie every played a full season, so there might be durability issues with him. Although I was say he is athletic and was a decent defender that, at 6’8, could move to the 2.

    Im not sure Vince would be a mid, but if athleticism is what you want, why not scrap both Vince and Bowen– pick up Eddie Jones (circa laker years- pre kobe). This way you can save the mid and sign eddie at a Low.

    freeing up room to Peel out Nate & Jamal, for a more diverse talent off the bench: a DRod/ BWall/ Chis Mullin (though he may be a max)/ etc.

    SOO.. hows this team look:


    Prince -LOW

    Either way, your team looks good as is. The best thing about this hypo is that the philosophy of person constructing the team really comes out. with your move for Howard, Robinson, and carter – i could tell athleticism was your big qualifier.

    Thanks for the response!!

  10. Lord says:

    to the author, I’d like to see your revised team, since Rodman [all star and NBA champion] isn’t a low salary guy, and Detlef [All star and had his best season ever…apparently] isn’t a low salary guy either.

  11. Smiles says:


    I like your defensive approach and faith in Jordan. With that said, I thought it would be best to build a team around Jordan, consisting of players exceptional at a few things. With that said, the first one will probably shock some people:

    PG – Stockton ’92 – MAX
    SG – Jordan ’90 – MAX
    SF – Peja ’04 – MID
    PF – McHale ’90 – LOW
    C – Mutombo ’00 – MID
    B – Rodman ’92 – LOW

    I’ll give you Jordon and Rodman (changing my preference on years), but move Rodman to the 6th man position because of his ability to guard multiple positions. Keeping with the idea of putting complimentary players around Jordan, I spent my other MAX position on Stockton. I would argue that he is a prolific passer, and an underrated defensive point guard with amazing vision (assists and steals are outrageous), and he can also help stretch with his 3. Mutombo is in as a defensive center, and Peja is pretty much in just for his shooting ability in one of his better defensive years (although I concede that either of these players may be argued as MAX, I don’t think anyone would argue that on the basis of them being superstars). McHale may be argued as a MID, but he did come off the bench for a large part of his career (including this particular season) and would help fill out more of the gaps on this team (rebounds, blocks, adding some assists, an uncharacteristically good 3-point year). I think it becomes blatantly apparent with my team and year choices how much I value 3-point shooting (sort of like some other team I can think of that lives and dies by the 3-point shot at the college level). I will also say that I agree with Swagflu that Jordan has a history of being a giant douche but that (1) his talk helped throw opponents off their game and (2) his multiple championship teams were able to put up with it. I would argue that Rodman and Mutombo would have strong enough personalities to put up with it, and that Stockton and McHale have cool enough heads to not get thrown off by it. Peja … I don’t know, I can see that being a problem, but maybe he’ll just be happy some pressure will be off of him.

    I agree that I think Amro’s team is a little too offensively focused and maybe not completely cohesive, in my opinion. In response to Adnan’s comment about Peja that his post-seasons have not been great, but I would argue that he was to go to shooter in certain situations (even though he had Bibby, Webber, Vlade), but on this construction of the team, Jordan would obviously be the go to shooter, and maybe even Stockton as the second, so it would take some pressure off of Peja.

    To D-Lord,

    In authors defense, by the definitions asserted in the parameters, Dennis and Detlef would fall into the LOW category (note this is not a MIN category). Their respective salaries for the chosen years fall into the LOW category for this exercise. This isn’t a deep reserve category, but just a lower end of the pay spectrum. They also both spent substantial parts of their respective careers coming off the bench as 6th men, so it would not be a stretch to consider them fitting those roles on a hypothetical team. I won’t dispute that they could be argued to be MID players, but going by a loose standard of judgment, it’s not too much of a stretch to argue them as LOW.

  12. Ruffles says:

    To Smiles,

    My team would eat your team alive and use their bones for toothpicks. Magic would walk through Stockton as if Stockton wasn’t even there… Sure Bowen might struggle guarding Jordan, but he’s got the best defensive player in NBA history behind him to help him out (but it’s not like it would be a huge mismatch anyway. Jordan would probably win that matchup against anyone). E-Rob would make Peja irrelevant, and I don’t think it’s even worth mentioning how useless your post players would be against Wallace and Dwight.

    My team is too weak defensively? Your team is too white. This isn’t NCAA. White hasn’t worked in the NBA for 20 years now. Name the last team to win an NBA finals with over half of their starters white.

    And I don’t see how my team is weak defensively anyway: Dwight Howard, arguably best defensive player ever; Rasheed Wallace, one of the best post defenders while he played; E-Rob, , they don’t show his one on one defense (wish youtube would post that up), but his only real weakness was his weight (he also didn’t exactly try all the time, but I’m sure when it came to games that mattered, his effort would be there); Bruce Bowen/Vince Carter, Former DPOY/above average defender; Magic, I’ll concede I have no idea, but at 6’10, he must’ve been good for rebounds.

    And cohesion… it’s simple. Magic drives, he’s 6’10! Easy alleyoop to Dwight every time. Game over.

  13. Smiles says:


    I’ll give you that Magic would challenge Stockton, but I still feel Stockton is incredibly overrated as a defender. He doesn’t lead the league in all time steals and have 4/15 top spots for most steals in a season for no reason. No way Bowen can keep up with Jordan. I think E-Rob/Peja would be almost a wash, and I think you under value McHale and over value Wallace. Howard would definitely pose problems for Mutombo, but I think it would be closer than you think (and the season is not over, so I’m not sure I would call this a definitive season for Howard just yet, but I can definitely see his numbers continuing the way they have been). And I think my bench spot is much stronger and versatile then yours.

    With that said, you have amazing athletic talent on your team but you also have someone who has a reputation for quitting (E-Rob), someone with a reputation for being dirty (Bowen) or someone who can’t win but can make highlights (Carter), someone with a reputation for getting angry, technicals, and ejections (Sheed), someone with a reputation for not taking the game seriously (Dwight). Your team is just waiting for a little nudge to make it explode.

    I do have a feeling Paka will side with you though…

  14. pakastallion says:


    Thanks so much for the comment. I am not going to lie; your second max definitely threw me off. It was almost a foregone conclusion that everyone would pick a dominant big for one of the MAX deals. Moreover, I can appreciate your approach and the thought you put into constructing this team. It’s easy breaking down a team, yet another thing to actually present one.

    First, taking the 1990 Jordan, with this team, shows me two things: first, you had to consider the players you put around him. While Jordan circa ’90 wanted to win at all cost, that didn’t mean he would sabotage the team. He was still in his athletic prime and understood the importance of winning as exemplified by his 11 dimes per in the Finals against the Lakers. I am glad you acknowledged you would need particular types of players around him to make it work. With the exception of Peja, I’d say you hit it on the head. Second, you went with a Jordan that was capable of dropping 50 on .500 percent shooting at a moments notice. This move creates some problems for my Dream Team.

    Taking Stockton as your second max deal, though innovative, is very risky. As it stands now, I went out and got the best 6’3 defender in the history of the NBA (GP is 6’4 ). So while Joe wouldn’t shut JS down, he would be a formidable adversary. Consequently, if you are going to take a point with your second MAX, why not take Magic? With him, you have another player on your roster that could play multiple positions; creating match up issues for other teams. While his vision and defense were not as strong as Stockton’s, his leadership, will, shooting percentage, passing, and ability to play multiple positions more than makes up for it. With a backcourt of a 6’10 pg and a 6’6 sg, I can maybe start to see something amazing forming. Not to mention Magic and Michael are two of the four greatest to ever graced the court.

    You know I’m going to take issue with Peja. Given this construct of players (and your Durham inspired love for 3 point threats), I can see what you are getting at. Why not save that mid deal and pick up: Drazen Petrovic ‘93, Glenn Rice, or Dale Ellis (All potential LOWs.) With Drazen you get an incredible shooter, who could serve as a viable third scoring option. While making my team, I would have taken him over DS, but was worried about his size and rebounding abilities. On this squad, he could give you all Peja could and more, at potentially a cheaper price. While Peja is three inches taller than Darzen; its not like Peja always used his height to his advantage.

    LOVE McHale at the four. This -along with your sleeper at the 5- confirms you did your homework and were ready to do work. It also made me think a team with Magic and Michael could work because McHale has the third best post game for a big man behind only Hakeem and Duncan. With a legitimate back-to-the-basket low-post scoring big, you may have found a glitch in the matrix. While I’d say he is more a MID, I can see your argument for taking him as a LOW. He took a boatload of shit -both on and off the court- from Bird, so I am sure he could take it from Michael. This might be the most impressive addition to your team. Great pick.

    Another really smart move on your part is taking one of the best defensive big men to have played the game, and having him fit as a MID. Again, having a defensive presence that blocks shots and rebounds, next to McHale would do wonders to lock up the boards. Taking ’00 Mutombo also works because it was at the mid point of his career when he was racking up the most boards and making a great impact on the defensive end.

    Finally Rodman off the bench is almost a necessity, right. To be able to take a guy that only made the all-star team twice in his fourteen year career, who never got paid more than 2.5 mill while on the Pistons, is a steal. Leaving the fact that he only played about 25 min a game, he wasn’t always the rebounding dominator we remember him as. Though you took him in ’92 when he went nuts on the boards, I think this guy has to be one of the few players everyone looks at long and hard while filling their roster.

    All in all, take your model and tweak it to look like this:

    PG- Magic ’84 – MAX (you wont need his rebounding as much and the career assist numbers should make up for replacing him with Stockton)

    SG- Jordan ’90 – MAX

    SF- Petrovic’93 – LOW

    PF – McHale’90 – MID

    C-Mutombo ’00 – MID

    6th – Rodman ’92 -LOW

    Team looks incredible. Just to extend the hypo, I’d have Rodman remain in my starting lineup and play Magic, have Jordan guard Jordan (though you might win that matchup) move Joe onto Petrovic; Wallace on McHale; and Hakeem on Mutombo. The game would be amazing. What I would lose with ’90 Jordan over ’98 Jordan, I’d make up with Hakeem on McHale or Mutombo. While Rodman wouldn’t lock up Magic, he would do a good job on him. Joe would ruin Petrovic’s day.

    If you stuck with your squad, I think Rodman and or DS would keep Peja irrelevant while Joe contained Stockton. I still like my team against either one of these teams, but this, I think, is the best counter I have seen or heard of thus far. Bravo.

    Thanks for the knowledge, mane. Really smart and well thought-out squad.

    @Ruffles: its not arguable that Howard is one of the best post-defenders ever. he is a 6’11 big that plays in a league lacking bigs. He would have fundamental issues playing against Kareem, Hakeem, Robinson, Ewing, and Shaq. As it stands now, he curls up into a little ball when he has to play the bigs of Boston or Shaq-whatever team hes on. Dont get me wrong, Howard has made great improvements this year, and was my pick as the second best player in the league before the season started. However, lets be real, his body of work is still way to small to even think he is one of the greatest defenders ever.

    Smiles wouldn’t have to worry about Magic walking through Stockton, he’d just switch Rodman on to Magic. ERob”s only weakness wasn’t being a head case and his weight, he also had durability issues playing and being an efficient offensive threat… though I did not watch him on a daily basis so i’ll temper any further criticism.

    Lastly, I think Smiles post would do alright… McHale is a foul individual when it comes to post moves. He has such an extensive arsenal that he would score on anyone in the post. I think you’d be better off switching sheed onto Mutombo and using Howard to help slow down McHale. Also, Smiles could just run the post through Jordan, the way they did during his championship runs.

    Ruffles, Smiles, thoughts?

    • Smiles says:


      I’ll give you Peja for any of the people you mentioned, especially if we agree McHale would be a MID. I basically wanted a prolific 3-point shooter to fit a specific role in the team, and those others would do that. I basically had McHale listed as LOW and thought why not spend a MID contract on someone, and Peja was out of his mind that year with his shot. So with that, I’ll concede that point.

      Here is where I will argue for Stockton over Magic in two main points. One, I feel that Stockton fulfills specific needs better than Magic. While I would never assert that Stockton is a better PG than Magic, I think he would be in my fictional system. I think Magic has a more vast array of talents, but they may somewhat overlap with Jordan’s, especially if I’m playing Jordan as a guard. If I switch some players for Peja, that may move Jordan to SF and may change things a little.

      My second (and I think stronger) point is more one of chemistry. Both Magic and Jordan have come out publicly against what James, Wade, and Bosh have done in Miami. I don’t think either of them would want to join a team with the other under this principle, wanting to go at each other instead, also because of overlapping skill sets (like how Magic said he felt about Bird). Although an argument can be made also for Jordan/Stockton (especially since they played against each other in championships), I think their dissimilarity is enough that they were not envisioning the same Magic/Byrd relationship. If anything, I think it may have been more of a Jordan/Malone contest, so I also don’t think Jordan would join a team with Malone. I think Stockton is different and underrated enough to let Jordan (and a possible Jordan ego) think that Stockton was not a big enough superstar to cause this problem.

      Taken into consideration then, I would respectfully keep Stockton for the above mentioned reasons, but am willing to substitute someone out for Peja.

  15. Ruffles says:

    just a quick comment bc i have cookies waiting for me downstairs…. I like dwight not for his one on one defense, but for his helpside defense. I’d put wallace on the better post player and have Dwight focus more on helpside. And E-Rob sucks in a half court offense except as a slasher; I meant as a defender he had no weaknesses except his weight and his head.

  16. Adnan says:

    Okay here’s my team.

    PG – Jordan 83 – Low
    SG – Jordan 88 – Mid
    SF – Jordan 98 – High
    PF – Mchale 90 – Mid
    C – Hakeem – High
    6th – Rodman – Low

  17. Adnan says:

    Smiles having 92 Rodman as low is just ridiculous, so your team is dismissed and you Smiles having 92 Rodman (any player average 19 rebounds a game is not low) is just ridiculous, so your team is dismissed and you have to start over. By that reasoning I could count 88 Jordan as Mid. Out of control.

    My real team –

    PG – Rondo – 08 – LOW – 4th option everyone was unsure of, showing that when it counted (in the playoffs) could get the ball to who it needed to go to, and his long arms can frustrate players.
    SG – Jordan – 89 – HIGH – Still young, moved the ball around (8 assists per game), and could probably follow Hakeem
    SF – James Worthy – 88 – MID – As the 3rd big name on that team, after Magic and Kareem, he was one of the most clutch players on that team, decent defense, and great shooter. When it comes to that last second shot, probably even have him above Hakeem.
    PF – Rodman – 92- MID – one of the best defensive rebounders of all time, well matched with Hakeem, a great offensive rebounder
    C – Hakeem – 90 – HIGH – Averaged a nasty double-double all season, with Rodman could probably get every rebound ever in the world.

    6th – Bruce Bowen – LOW – Low player who can probably guard even the best of them? Creates great opportunity for mis matches. Also clutch shooter who is almost always guaranteed to make it in that corner when everyone else is worried about Jordan, Worthy, or Hakeem.

    Obviously I focused on boards, defense, and clutch. I mean obviously there is a factor with Rondo as he started the season questionably that year, but as the most improved player, the man can definitely do work-especially with players like Jordan, Worthy, and Hakeem around him. Another weakness other than Rondo (even that’s a maybe) is Rodman’s and Bowen’s lack of offense. But when you have Jordan, Worthy, and Hakeem on this squad, and Bowen’s knack for being the perfect role player in always making that corner shot, Rodman isn’t that big of a liability. Bowen’s clutch for some reason is frequently undersold, but as a 6th man and a role player, I personally think he fits perfectly when you have people doubling off on Jordan of Hakeem.

    • pakastallion says:


      This team is really, really good. At first blush, its almost too good. Couple of counters:

      First, you went with ’89 Jordan and ’90 Hakeem. As a self-proclaimed Jordan aficionado, I have to take issue with this. Granted it is a hypothetical and granted I have little way of proving this, but I think this tandem would violate the “chemistry clause” of the article. Look, if Shaq and Kobe could not get along once they became equals in ’04 –losing to the Pistons in the finals- I don’t think these two could. The little secret about The Dream is that he was all about team work and passing, up until it came time to him getting the ball and shooting. On the other hand, ’89 Jordan –though I love him more than anything- was on par with the petulant behavior of Kobe circa 2005. I just do not think the two would get along as Hakeem and Jordan would be two alpha dogs (neither had won a title at this point) fighting for that number one spot. This could drive them apart as we saw Shaq and Kobe in ’04. The retort to this usually goes, “But Shaq and Kobe won three titles.” That’s true, BUT there was a clear cut-alpha dog on those teams- Shaq. Once the two were equal in talent and abilities –’04- we all saw what happened (not to mention Malone trying to get at Kobe’s wife and GP forgetting how to play basketball). So I have no real way of proving it, but I really think there would be detrimental chemistry issues with these two.

      I see what you are doing with Rondo, but think it is a big mistake. He just doesn’t belong on this team. Unlike Joe, Rondo was a straight liability in the ’08 season. While averaging only five dimes a game, he was scared of shooting the ball. He has never been a great on ball defender, and at this point struggled with team defense too. I’ll give you he is a low, but think you could have gotten a lot more instead of going off potential.

      Worthy ’88 might not be a mid –he won finals MVP that year and had really solid numbers. Having said that, I think your argument meets the low threshold, so imma give it to you. Great pick up at the three. He has to be a top 10 small forward on most anyone’s list (why I think he should be a max.) He was a solid defender, good shooter, clutch, and a great chemistry – high IQ player. Great Pick!

      Rodman ’92, again a tremendous pick. At about 19 rebounds a game, dude was just coming into his own in the league. Unlike my Rodman of ’89, this Rodman actually played most of the game, and was hell bent on getting every board that he could. By taking this version, you give up some of his ability to guard multiple positions, but you make it up with his dominance in the paint and on the boards. Solid pick.

      Hakeem ’90 is what I had so you know I love this pick.

      I like Bruce Bowen, but not sure how he fits on this team. I’m assuming you bring him in as a defensive specialists, but he is limited to mostly the two and three position. With Jordan being able to lock up any two, Bowen would be forced to play against the point or the three on the other team. The problem with the three is that he is too short to check either of my threes, especially DS. While he can spread the floor with his shot, I don’t see why you’d want him off the bench.

      I’d tweak your team a bit to look like this:

      Calderon ’08 LOW
      Jordan’98 MAX
      Worthy ’84 MID (I think his earlier years justifies the mid safely – still strong pick up)
      Rodman’92 MID
      Hakeem ’90 MAX
      Sixth Kirilenko ’03 LOW

      This team looks amazing. So amazing I’m kind of worried. Recap: Joe would def shut down Calderon. Jordan’s and Hakeem’s cancels each other out. Rodman shuts down Worthy. Kirilenko shuts down DS. PUSH? I like the balance of your team, but worry about the defense in the frontcourt. Also, you are very limited with your bigs. Any foul trouble or disturbance up front and you will have to slide rodman up to center or AK47 to the four. I have the option of movie rodman to the four and sliding Wallace to the five or leaving Hakeem at the five and moving Rodman to the 4.

      All in all, I disagree with the ’89 Jordan/ ’90 Hakeem thing working out, but if it did your team would have the initial edge in a more athletic Jordan, while mine would make due with better chemistry and leadership. As it stands with Rondo and Bowen, I think my team takes it, with the adjusted squad I have no idea.

      winning work, ak.

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