I’m too lazy to come up with a theme this time around. Lazy like an unshaven Goorjian who has just dropped his carton of Big M. But I thought I’d put some questions in relating to the teams we each support, to get some differing answers.
How this works is I pose a number of questions, and collate everyone’s answers together here. Sounds easy, right?
At the round table today we have Jarrod Cotton (BOS), Troy Goostrey (IND), Dan Kelly (LAL), David Ashman (DEN) and Jesse Cotton (ATL).
Name your team’s all-time starting 5
PG- Bob Cousy (6 titles, 1957 mvp)
SG- John Havlicek (8 titles, 1974 finals mvp)
SF- Larry Bird (3 titles, 3 mvp’s 81/84/86)
PF- Dave Cowens (2 titles, 1973 mvp)
C- Bill Russell (11 titles, 5 mvp’s).
The MVP of the finals award is also named after Russell. I’m guessing not just for the frequency he was the victor but looking up his statistics for the 1962 game 7 wouldn’t have hurt his case – 31 points, 40 rebounds, 6 assists, 18 blocks and 4 steals!!
Troy Goostrey: I find this quite tough for my Pacers. I’m going to pick 2 guys at a couple of positions as their ABA talent deserves the selection but to ensure I also have an all-NBA option, I’ll supplement with someone from the show.
· Shaq (sorry Kareem and Wilt)
Notable absentees West, Cooper and don’t forget Lamar Odom and the Kardashians 😁
David Ashman: Alright here we go, all time Nuggets starting 5. Hard to select but I have had to come up with 5 players that cover all bases here. OK maybe there are a few decisions based on the players I have watched rather than purely stats. Considering you and I Jesse are the only teams that haven’t won championships (someone needs to fact check this! – Ed), these teams aren’t too bad. But only a handful of hall of famers compared to the rest.
PG Mookie Blaylock – backup Joe Johnson
Blaylock gets the nod here in a weak position. Johnson is the better player but not really a PG. Blaylock made his mark on the defensive end, always a threat to lead the league in steals (twice), and had consistently good rebounding (4.6) and assist (7.2) numbers.
The Hawks also missed the playoffs the year before he arrived with 38 wins, made the playoffs each of his 7 seasons with 4 trips to the conference semis and wins between 42 and 57, then missed the playoffs again when he left with 28 wins.
SG Lou Hudson – backup Pete Maravich
Hudson is one of the least known NBA stars, probably a lot of that is due to playing in the dark ages of the 1970s for a team no-one cares about. In his 11 seasons with the Hawks, he was an all-star 6 times, and consistently scored in the mid-20s per game.
Maravich was the better player with the better career, but his span with the Hawks was only his first 4 years.
SF Dominique Wilkins – backup Cliff Hagan
The face of the franchise, Dominique made the Hawks watchable in the 80s and was arguably the best in-game dunker of all time.
He also made them a better team than what people remember. They were consistently in contention in the East, with 4 50-win seasons in a row in the late-80s, but while the Pistons were beating up the Bulls, the Celtics were taking care of the Hawks.
Had he actually played any defense, they may have got a step further, but defense was overrated in the 80s.
Hagan was a 5 time All-Star in his 10 Hawk seasons, being a 20 and 10 guy in their championship season.
PF Al Horford – backup Kevin Willis
Not a numbers guy, Horford is all about winning. He has made the playoffs every season he has been in the league, and his addition as a rookie is what catapulted the Hawks into the playoffs as the 8th seed vs eventual champion Boston, and began a 10-year playoff streak, the longest for the Hawks for 35 years.
Willis was a chiseled rebounding machine with a big head. He was listed at 7 feet tall, but with a normal sized head would have probably only been 6-8.
C Bob Pettit – backup Dikembe Mutombo
Pettit is arguably the best Hawk of all time. He’s the best player on their only championship, scoring 50 points in the deciding game 6, which the Hawks won by a single point. He has averages of 26.4ppg and 16.2rpg over his 11-year career, including 11 all-star appearances.
Mutombo is known for his finger waving, not being Manute Bol, and regularly talking to Bill Clinton about his bombing of the Congo.
Overall, pretty weak for a team who has existed since 1950!
What is the most regrettable decision your team has made?
Jarrod Cotton: Signing Coach Rick Pitino to a 10 year / $70 million contract in 1997, (which was a record amount of money at the time).
He lasted 3 and a half years with a win/loss record of 102/146.
Troy Goostrey: Probably moving away from Chuck Person and Wayman Tisdale. Reggie Miller and Rik Smits were still young when Tisdale was moved. The Rifleman was a casualty of us not getting out of the first round in the late 80’s and early 90’s playoffs, but the era was tough. I wonder how those seasons around 1994 and 1995 would have been with a Jackson/Reggie/Person/Tisdale/Smits starting lineup?? Surely we get past the Knicks or Magic in one of those years??
And although I admit I never knew it until researching for some of my top 5 players above, turns out the Pacers had the #2 pick in the 1984 draft and traded it to Portland for some hack!! So we moved out of the ‘lottery’ selections in the deepest draft in history to get some flog who played one season?? Nice work. We all get on the back of Portland about taking Bowie with that #2 pick over MJ, but really the Pacers took Tom Owens via trade over MJ.
Finally, the other stupid thing we did was trade away a young Alex English in 1980 to get back club legend George McGinnis. McGinnis was way past his peak by then whereas English was one of the best scorers in the 1980’s. Another sweet move!
Dan Kelly: Not sorting it out with Kobe and Shaq staying together. Who knows how many more rings both would have.
David Ashman: The most regrettable decision made by Nuggets was probably picking Nikoloz Tskitishvili in 2002 with the 5th pick. Maybe an Amare Stoudamire would have been a better fit at the time. It was a weak draft anyway looking back at it and it did allow the Nuggets to stink up the joint giving them the 3rd pick the following year to get Melo. But that is one decision that came to mind.
Jesse Cotton: Trading Luka Doncic for Trae Young? Too soon? The Hawks have made so many bad decisions I’m going to need a top 3, and that still doesn’t include Marvin or Shelden “The Big Ugly” Williams.
#3 – Matching Detroit’s offer sheet for Jon Koncak in 1989
In 1989 the Hawks had a record of 52-30, starting all-star Moses Malone at C averaging 20 and 12, with Koncak as his backup averaging 4.7 and 6.1.
Kevin Willis missed the year with injury, and with Cliff Levingston and Antoine Carr also still with the team they had plenty of depth at the PF and C positions.
The Pistons had just come off winning the title, and with the Celtics in decline they were the team to beat in the East for the Hawks and the up-and-coming teams like the Bulls and Cavs.
The Pistons make an insane offer to reserve Jon Koncak – 6 years, $13 million – one which would have made him the highest paid Piston, and the 11th highest paid player in the league, worth more than Stockton and Drexler combined.
This could have financially crippled them, making them unable to resign the bulk of their championship team when the time came, and caused locker room issues a la Shawn Kemp and Jim McIlvaine.
So what do the Hawks do when faced with losing an expendable backup to a rival team which could weaken them? They match the offer of course, and Koncak repays them by dropping his averages to 3.7 and 4.2.
#2 – Trading Dominique in 1993/94
Jordan had just retired (for the first time) and all of a sudden the East was wide open for teams like New York, Orlando, and surprisingly, Atlanta.
Those three teams, along with a Pippen-led Bulls, were all vying for the #1 seed, with Atlanta in the box seat. So what do they do? At the trade deadline, they trade away their best player for Danny Manning, leading to nearly bowing out in the 1st round before being bundled in the 2nd, and alienating a fanbase which still hasn’t recovered. It is the only time a #1 seed has traded away their leading scorer.
The reason behind making the trade? They were scared of upcoming contract negotiations. The front office were looking to the future when they should have been focused squarely on the present.
#1 – Trading Bill Russell in 1956
This actually wasn’t as bad a deal as what trading a superstar normally looked like back in the day (think both Wilt trades, Kareem trade), especially considering the superstar was a rookie. The Hawks got back Cliff Hagan who would play a big part in their lone 1958 championship, and Ed Macauley in the twilight of his career.
The Hawks had a bit of a purple patch in the late 50s, making the Finals 4 times in 5 years between 1957 and 1961, losing to the Celtics 3 times (anyone else sense a common “losing to Boston” thread with my answers?). Put Russell in the Hawks instead of in the Celtics, and you never know. Perhaps it is the Hawks who win 3 of 4, perhaps it’s the Hawks who win multiple titles in the 1960s and perhaps it’s the Hawks who actually become a respected franchise.
Unlike the other 2 moves, this was not an obvious bad move at the time, but the repercussions are enormous.
Who would win – All-East starting 5 or All-West backup 5?
Jarrod Cotton: I’ve got Irving, Leonard, Antetokounmpo, Porzingis and Embiid for my East starters and Westbrook, Thompson, George, Anthony-Towns and Cousins for my West bench. (Very hard narrowing the west).
Troy Goostrey: Definitely the second team out West. I mean, who are the first and second PG’s out of CP3, Westbrook, Curry and Lillard!!?? All 4 beat Kyrie or John Wall who is probably #1 for the East.
Definitely the West second team.
Dan Kelly: If you have a fit Kawhi and Irving then maybe East have a shot. My money is on the west though.
David Ashman: The backup West is still pretty strong so I would say the West. They would have a team consisting of Damien Lilliard, KAT, Klay Thompson, Westbook, Cousins etc…..
Jesse Cotton: Perhaps not so surprisingly, only 3 of the 15 All-NBA players from last season are in the East this season – Giannis, Embiid and Oladipo – with the entire All-NBA first team residing in the West.
My West starters would be Curry / Harden / James / Durant / Davis. Not a bad team there.
For the East I’ve got Irving / Simmons / Leonard / Giannis / Embiid. Oladipo could easily replace Simmons, but for next season I think Simmons takes a step forward.
At the guard spots, the West backups steamroll the East. I’ve got Westbrook and Lillard, but even the third team where I would probably have CP3 and DeRozan would give the East a run for their money.
At the forwards, the West is the weakest. I’ve got Giannis and Leonard beating out George and Aldridge.
At centre, I’ve got KAT vs Embiid. I’d give the nod to Embiid.
So based on that, I’m going with the East by a whisker, winning in 3 of the 5 spots. If it is a complete 12 man squad though, the West wins easy. Seems crazy that in the top 10 players in the west it’s hard to find room for Paul, DeRozan, Butler, Booker, Klay, Draymond, Jokic, Jordan, Mitchell, Cousins, Holiday….