Here’s a scenario flooded with fantasy…
First the Detroit portion…
Picture Ben Wallace, in his heyday, on this current 09/10 Piston team.
Where would they stand compared to Boston, Orlando, Cleveland, LA, San Antonio? Tough to tell huh?
Probably not. There’s no Chauncey. Case of a rookie coach. No Larry Brown to ride herd on the players. Stuckey’s the starting point guard. No motivated Rasheed Wallace. Kwame Brown is logging probably too many meaningful minutes. No ball hawking pests like Lindsey Hunter and Mike James. None of that Big Nasty instant offense in the post. Rip’s time in Detroit is likely quickly dwindling (team chemistry?). No Elden Campbell break away dunks (I wish there was video, oh well, I remember it well)
Maybe. Deeper, more talented bench, especially with Bynum and Gordon coming off the pine. Athletic bigs like Wilcox, Maxiell and Brown to rest the starters Villanueva? and Big Ben. Interior defense would once again be among tops in the league, provided Villanueva kept his nose to the grindstone and at least tried (if not, Ben would surely let him know about it). Team would yet again be under the radar. A more NBA ready rookie foreigner human victory cigar has to be worth something too, right?
Alright, Detroit, even with a heyday Ben Wallace, doesn’t really have it all to compete with LA, Boston, Cleveland or even San Antonio. But it was fun thinking about it for a sec, wasn’t it?
So, that leads me to this…
If each current NBA team could have one of their current players return to their heyday years (like the Ben Wallace example), just for this season, would it really change or influence who would be considered top dogs going into this season?
Probably not, it would just make things murkier for the top half a dozen teams considered contenders.
THE CONTENDERS (*Phoenix is not originally a contender, but with the best version of Grant Hill it makes them tough to leave out)
Have a pre-knee injury McDyess with the current cast of Spurs? Or would you rather take Duncan in his heyday instead of a heyday McDyess? I’d go with the high flying Dyess. Blair will probably provide enough scoring punch to help with the scoring responsibilities Duncan cannot carry anymore.
Choice is rather clear. Do I even have to type it?
Not many options for the Lakers since you could argue that each meaningful player on the roster is virtually in their heyday right now, or will be soon ( @Kobe @Gasol @Artest @Bynum @Brown @Farmar). Derek Fisher might be the only choice here. That’s really it though. And even Fisher hasn’t fallen off that much.
Picking a Celts player for this heyday scenario is a difficult proposition. Put a volatile but unbelievably talented Rasheed Wallace on this team? Or go with KG? Ray Allen? What about Pierce? Scalabrine? Ha, just making sure you’re paying attention.
Chauncey Billups in his heyday would surely propel Denver more into the immediate discussion of legit contenders (I think they’re on the cusp now, barely). However having Kenyon Martin in his heyday might be a better choice considering Billups is still an elite player, even if he’s lost a step maybe.
Only logical option for Orlando would be Vince Carter. But team chemistry might falter because of Carter’s once prevalent ego/motivation issues. But maybe with a very good team around him Carter would shape up? Though, looking at it purely from an entertainment view White Chocolate in his prime would certainly liven up this bench over the rudimentary sludge always seemingly oozing out of Anthony Johnson’s pores.
The decision Phoenix would have to make is fairly easy (at first I thought it would be hard). Heyday Nash? Nah, it wouldn’t make that big of a dent. He’s still quite the player. Picture a spectacular Grant Hill with very good NBA players around him… what a concept! Amar’e might be able to fit into the discussion as well because, let’s be honest, his best days might be already behind him, yep, even at the ripe old age of 26. But even with Amar’e at his finest, Phoenix wouldn’t get too far. Nash, JRich, Barbosa and an old Hill isn’t enough help. Not even a reinvigorated Channing Frye would be enough. Ok, I’ll stop with the jokes now. Seriously though, a heyday Hill would make the most sense. Phoenix would be a title contender.
MAVS (yes, I consider them a contender in real life, kinda)
The once wizardly Jason Kidd would have loads of fun playing with this team. It might not even be fair for defenses. Watch out, Kidd may even make Erick Dampier and Kris Humphries look decent.
Just for fun…
Clippers would be golden with Marcus Camby in his heyday. I feel like Davis, ha not Ricky, is still hungry (like the incessantly ferocious monster in Ski Free) and talented enough to be very lethal. Thornton and Gordon are young studs, Kaman is steady if healthy, and they got some legitimate bench players like Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan to help out. Blake Griffin is suppose to be ok too, or at least that’s what I’ve heard from an acquaintance or two.
I’d say Cleveland, with the two most dominant players in the league, would be the East rep in the Finals (sorry Celtics, I think you would be better off with a heyday Sheed but you’re still a bit old overall).
Then for the West I’d have to go with San Antonio, provided McDyess was their heyday player of choice (Duncan and Manu haven’t fallen off that much have they?). Dallas would be tough, but maybe not ‘defensive minded’ (cliche, I know) enough. The Lakers, basically the same team just with a slightly better Fisher, would still be in the discussion, however the Artest experiment is scaring me a little now that I think about it.
Winner of Cavs-Spurs Fantasyland Heyday Scenario…
Cavs in 6.
Should probably be Cavs in 5, I mean, freaking LeBron James with Shaq when Shaq was The Best (shiiit), that would be silly. But I do like Tony Parker a lot, and Pop is worlds wittier than Mike Brown, the Spurs are deeper, and don’t forget about the young Denver Nugget version of McDyess– so explosive, someone the Spurs need badly. But LeBron with a great big man and a plethora of good shooters is just a nightmare.
Well, there’s the Fantasyland Heyday Scenario for you. I hope it is at least a little fun to think (fantasize?) about. Share any thoughts you have.
Alright, back to real life.