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Was Your Old Team Better?

Some friends and I used to debate which college basketball programs produced the best professional basketball players. The typical argument would center on which school's active almni would produce the best current NBA team. we found this interesting because some caoches and programs have clearly been better, over time, at producing wining college teams than pro-caliber players and vice-versa. Given the difference in the college and pro games, and the number of players at each level, this should be expected.

With the trade of Allen Iverson from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Denver Nuggets, I've been pondering something similar about NBA teams: For which teams is the assembled quality of former, yet still active players better than the current roster? As a Philadelphia fan, this is something of a depressing exercise, as it is relatively easy to assemble a team of former 76ers that would trounce the current team — indeed, this might have been possible even before the Iverson trade. Is this just an artifact of the rate at which players switch teams? Or (as I've contemplated) is the Philly front office just been that bad?

Kristian (mail):
Washington Wizards: Rasheed &Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Antwaun Jameson, Jerry Stackhouse.
12.23.2006 12:26am
Bulgaroktonos (mail):
To nit pick the first response a bit, Antawn Jameson still plays for the Wizards and thus doesn't qualify for this list.
12.23.2006 1:59am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Al Harrington, Boris Diaw, Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, Stephen Jackson, Rasheed Wallace, Nazr Mohammed, Smush Parker, Pao Gasol, Raja Bell could put together a better team than the Hawks.

Cuttino Mobley, Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace, Matt Harpring, Chauncey Billups, and Shaq would beat the Magic.

But I don't think its that common. There has to have been some serious mismanagement. Even the Knicks are better than the ex-Knicks as far as I can tell. And I don't think any first tier team would get beaten by its rejects.
12.23.2006 6:40am
John Jenkins (mail):
The Sixers' front office is just that bad. Billy King was Isaiah Thomas before Isaiah was Isaiah when it comes to being a GM.

You couldn't do this for, e.g the Lakers, the Timberwolves, the Suns, the Mavericks, the Spurs, the Cavs, the Bulls, the Pistons, etc. You have to have screwed up, and Billy King has.

The Sixers need to fire him before the next draft so someone else is doing the drafting, at least if the Sixers actually want to improve.
12.23.2006 9:37am
guest:
Kristian, you forgot Chris Webber, who (though not as good as he used to be), could still probably outplay bench forwards Etan Thomas and/or Jarvis Hayes, take your pick. These were all bad trades, by the way, not players lost to free agency (like Larry Hughes). Also, I'm not sure you can include both Rip and Stack, since Rip was traded for Stack -- clearly a bad deal at the time, as Rip was much better). Stack was then traded for Jamison, a deal that has actually turned out pretty good for the Wizards.

And for all the woe the Wizards have endured, it has to be said that Gilbert Arenas is the man. Last night he dropped 54 on the Suns ... in Phoenix. I'm sure he'll get traded before too long.
12.23.2006 10:16am
Edward Swaine:
This is an interesting question, and painful for those following the Bullets/Wizards. But the leap to conclusions about the quality of management -- accurate though it may be about the Sixers and the Wizards -- is tricky. You'd need to factor in the cap, and the salaries of the players and their teammates at the relevant time (e.g., Howard, Richmond, Strickland, . . .). One can imagine a team that is a fraction of its potential, had-'em-once quality that is forced to get rid of players because of the way their contracts were structured by that team or a predecessor, not to mention free agency.

But someone should be thinking about the Celts.
12.23.2006 11:35am
Jake (Guest):

You couldn't do this for, e.g the Lakers, the Timberwolves, the Suns, the Mavericks, the Spurs, the Cavs, the Bulls, the Pistons, etc. You have to have screwed up, and Billy King has.

Both the Timberwolves and the Cavs have been subject to some horrible general management over the last few years. The only reason the "rejects test" doesn't work for them is that there is one big star that would carry the current team to victory. It doesn't really show much GM-ing ability not to trade away LeBron or KG...
12.23.2006 11:40am
Volokh Groupie:
Yeah, the irony with the knicks is that with all of the mismanagement with drafts and trades after Ewing's departures, there probably isn't a better team they could put out (though they probably want Camby and [incredible to even be saying this] Tim Thomas back). The current knicks team is at least kind of young and somewhat likeable. However, it'll take isiah thomas' firing for this knicks fan to come back.

Even with the draft swap with the bulls in the upcoming draft, the knicks should be able to pull someone out of what is an incredibly rich draft though.

Also the bulls are getting close to being a first tier east team (yeah, equivalent to the champs of AAA) but i can still imagine a better team of backups- curry, brand, artest, jr smith, crawford and griffin as the sixth man would give the current team a run for its money
12.23.2006 12:24pm
Warriors Fan:
Stop crying Wizards' fans and remember that both Arenas and Jamison were Warriors first. Now that hurts. When two guys you gave away form the nucleus of a playoff caliber team...
12.23.2006 1:29pm
Wild Pegasus (mail) (www):
For which teams is the assembled quality of former, yet still active players better than the current roster? As a Philadelphia fan, this is something of a depressing exercise, as it is relatively easy to assemble a team of former 76ers that would trounce the current team

As a fellow Philly fan, I share that depression (worst basketball team in the game, worst hockey team in the game). Personally, I'd take the 82-83 Sixers right now over the current team.

- Josh
12.23.2006 3:03pm
Kovarsky (mail):
i think dr j, charles barkley, and any other three retired players could beat the current sixers.

yao ming for mvp.
12.23.2006 3:47pm
West (mail):
I guess, since shaq is gimpy and the "new lakers" are meshing pretty well, that it is probably true that you could not do it with the lakers. But, if shaq had not hurt his knee, a team of shaq, caron butler, tyrone lue/derek fisher, and a couple loser laker cast-offs, might have kept close with the "new lakers".
12.23.2006 4:13pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Josh, I feel your pain. Our teams are a pathetic lot. King needs to join Clarke on the firing line. He is just an abysmal GM.
12.24.2006 12:32pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Golden State Warriors. Off the top of my head, I can name Arenas, Jamison, Hughes, Webber, Dampier, Boykins. There must be more.
12.24.2006 1:18pm
chaika (mail) (www):
That's a fun thought experiment. The best I can come up with for the Spurs would be something like: PG Speedy Claxton, SG Antonio Daniels, SF Raja Bell, SF/PF Stephen Jackson, PF/C Nazr Mohammed or C Rasho Nesterovic. Is there any franchise that would do worse (or is that better?) at this game?
12.24.2006 6:18pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I love my Pistons, but you could put together a decent ex-Piston team of players that are still in the league: Ben Wallace at center, Mehmet Okur at power forward, Grant Hill at small foward, Jerry Stackhouse and Mike James at the guards (or Smush Parker if you like); Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo could come off the bench, as they do in Orlando this year, along with Corliss Williamson.
12.24.2006 10:16pm
John-David Filing (mail) (www):
Just as an exercise, I decided to look at my Cleveland Cavaliers.

Andre Miller, Brevin Knight, Derek Anderson, Carlos Boozer, and Tony Battie is the best starting lineup I can come up with. Not bad, but not great.
12.25.2006 9:20pm