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It finally ended with an agreement way back in 1976, the ABA once and for all buckled and joined forces and became what we now all know to be the greatest professional sports league in the world, the NBA.After having countless discussions with a few random observers, one question was the runaway winner and ended up owning the conversation for the next several hours (in fact it’s been 5 days since and I am still talking).
It started out simply enough, talking about the greatest players before the merger took place and the difference in styles from then till now. Then everything changed with one sentence; is there still ABA players in today’s game?
Don’t get me wrong, soon after this question was blurted out we all laughed and said ‘don’t be an idiot, you’ve clearly had to much too drink. After taking a few seconds (and a few more sips) to process this question, it began to sink in that; this isn’t as dumb as we once thought.
Now before even beginning to try and answer that question the best I can we should talk a little about the ABA and what it would have been like playing in those days. With the emphasis being more on flashy plays, unique players and differences within the games, at times basic fundamentals were overlooked.
Having more flash and pizazz than the latest Ferrari, certain things within the game had to take a back seat; the most notable being defense. That is how I began to decipher this, at first glance, easy yet subtlety tough question.
Who, of the current crop of NBA players, has a game style and ethic that would be better suited had the merger never have taken place?
Guaranteed, there will players on this list who on first glance you will look at and think that I had one too many drinks and lost too many brain cells (don’t worry I thought the same, eventually it all became clear and actually made sense).
Essentially it’s all based on two very key selection criteria:
– Player must have more style than Thom Browne (Google him)
– And be practically a matador on the defensive end
With that in mind let me divulge whom I have on my 10-man roster, actually wait here are a few honorable mentions:
Guards – Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis
All three of these players well and truly fit the bill for my ABA selection criteria the only reason they weren’t selected? The two players I took instead are complete and utter liabilities on the defensive end. (Also I have slightly impressed with what Coach Carlisle has been able to turn Monta into this season).
Forwards – Michael Beasley, Gerald Green, Kendrick Perkins
Don’t worry I’m not serious with the Perkins pick, just making sure you’re still paying attention. Beasley and Green on the other hand would have thrived under the ABA scheme, imagine how good a player Beasley could have become if coaches didn’t care how you treated the defensive end of the floor.
Now that those formalities are out of the way, I’d like to formally present my current ABA squad:
Starting Point Guard
Yes that’s right, the 2014 NBA All-Star Game MVP is the first player named to my roster. He is fundamentally bad on the defensive end but has more skill with the ball in his hand than many players in the league. A lot of hype surrounds Irving as the next big thing, for me he still has a long way to go.
Backup Point Guard
An extremely skilled guard has all the tools to be amongst the best in the years to come, for right now he can settle for a spot within this roster. Can be found out if matched up against skillful offensive players and often gets given the role to sit on corner shooters. Offensively though he is violently exciting.
Starting Shooting Guard
The captain of the ABA roster, JR is one of the most up and down players in NBA history. When he is feeling it he can be tough to contain but when he isn’t in the right frame of mind he essentially turns into Casper. Would have thrived under this game style as he could express himself fluently.
Backup Shooting Guard
Maybe the strangest selection amongst the group (behind Blake), currently leading the league in Triple-Doubles he is without doubt the most eccentric player to take the floor. When running up the floor you never know what he is going to do next and this would have seen him pocket millions in the ABA.
Starting Small Forward
His nickname is Swaggy P; he specializes in extremely flamboyant plays that leave you scratching your head (sometimes for bad reasons). The one thing that is certain when this man takes the floor is that you are going to get reluctant defending and lots of shots thrown up. My second pick behind Kyrie for this squad.
Backup Small Forward
He was always going to make this team; no player in the game right now makes more ‘ARE YOU SERIOUS’ plays than what Jamal Crawford does. Although it was tough for me to place him in this squad over Michael Beasley as under Doc Rivers he has shown tremendous growth as an all round player, still how could he not make it?
Starting Power Forward
Brandon Jennings an honorable mention and Josh Smith a starter, can people now please realize why I was so against the Pistons and the trades that they made. Smith has the ability/potential to be an imposing two-way force; his mindset just won’t allow it. In the ABA he would be a top 10 player without doubt.
Backup Power Forward
(Ok I’m cheating a bit on this one; I’m only taking the pre Knicks version of Amare). Yes that’s right, it’s my roster, my article I’ll do what I want! Believe me, Carmelo Anthony made a strong case for this squad to be small but I wanted Amare in here because I used to enjoy watching him. Again, not because of his astonishing two way play (he has never been that guy) purely for the fact that he was next to unstoppable offensively and possessed a sky-high skill set.
I’ll be the first to admit it (I actually did this on a recent episode of the Hoops Podcast), Blake has blown me away this season with his development. That being said, his game still has plenty of improvement (Yes I know, that’s a scary as hell prospect). Defensively he has more holes than your local golf club, the flair aspect of his game is custom made for the ABA.
I’m a big fan of DeMarcus and the skill set that he possesses, his major downfall we all know is between the ears. He tends to lose interest in games and can fade unexpectedly. If he was allowed to focus his attention on style and offense alone he could be extremely dangerous.
PG – Kyrie Irving, Backup: Damian Lillard
SG – JR Smith, Backup: Lance Stephenson
SF – Nick Young, Backup: Jamal Crawford
PF – Josh Smith, Backup: Amare Stoudemire
C – Blake Griffin, Backup: DeMarcus Cousins
I have no doubt that if this team got together and played a full game they would score well over 120 points, granted they would concede roughly 150 points but it would be well worth the admission fee I’ll admit that this is an extremely odd concept and one that will only get brought up once every blue moon, there are numerous players who funnily enough would thrive and were unlucky to not make the 10-man roster.
*I almost forgot to name my coach, the entire theme has been crazy good offensive players who cant play defense, honestly there is only one coach that I can think of who would master this group. Welcome aboard Mike D’Antoni.
Let me know what you think, don’t like certain players being named? Think somebody else should be in?