How an Expansion Team Could Shake Up the NBA

A few days ago, I randomly thought to myself, if there were an expansion draft where each team could protect 5 players, who would the Golden State Warriors keep? Obviously they would retain Curry, Klay, and Draymond.; but after that, who gets made available? Do they hold onto Harrison Barnes and his expiring contract, banking on the idea that they’ll re-sign him? What about last year’s Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala? The best backup PG in the league right now is Shaun Livingston, so would he be exposed to other teams? Would they keep Andrew Bogut and/or Festus Ezeli, fearing that they would lose size? Then I thought about other teams. The Celtics have so many assets, which would they keep? Miami would surely keep Dwyane Wade, right? Would Cleveland go small-ball? What would happen to Dirk Nowitzki? Being the basketball nerd that I am, I will now be going to go through every roster and deciding which players each team would keep, and then pick players for the expansion team, which for convenience, will be called Team X. There is one rule – Team X can’t take two players from the same team. That means if you get Joakim Noah, you can’t also have Doug McDermott. These decisions are what I would do if I were the GM, not what I think a typical NBA GM would do. So, let’s start by looking at all 30 teams and seeing who they would protect and who would they make available.

Atlanta Hawks:

Protected Players: Al Horford (C, 25), Paul Millsap (PF, 31), Jeff Teague (PG, 27), Dennis Schroeder (PG, 22), Kyle Korver (SG, 35)

Notable Draftable Players: Kent Bazemore (SF, 26), Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, 24), Kris Humphries (PF, 31), Tiago Splitter (C, 31)

Boston Celtics:

Protected Players: Isaiah Thomas (PG, 27), Jae Crowder (SF, 25), Avery Bradley (SG, 25), Marcus Smart (PG, 22), Jared Sullinger (C, 24)

Notable Draftable Players: Evan Turner (SF, 27), Kelly Olynyk (C, 25), Tyler Zeller (C, 26), Amir Johnson (PF, 29)

Brooklyn Nets:

Protected Players: Brook Lopez (C, 28), Thaddeus Young (PF, 27), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (SF, 21), Sean Kilpatrick (SG, 26), Bojan Bogdanovic (SG, 27)

Notable Draftable Players: None

Charlotte Hornets:

Protected Players: Kemba Walker (PG, 26), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF, 22), Nicolas Batum (SG, 27), Frank Kaminsky (PF/C, 23), Cody Zeller (C, 23)

Notable Draftable Players: Al Jefferson (C, 31), Marvin Williams (PF, 29), Courtney Lee (SG, 30), Jeremy Lamb (SG, 23), Jeremy Lin (PG, 27)

Chicago Bulls:

Protected Players: Jimmy Butler (SG, 26), Derrick Rose (PG, 27), Nikola Mirotic (PF, 25), Doug McDermott (SF, 24), Joakim Noah (C, 31)

Notable Draftable Players: Taj Gibson (PF, 30), Pau Gasol (PF/C, 35), Tony Snell (SG/SF, 24)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

Protected Players: LeBron James (SF, 31), Kyrie Irving (PG, 24), Kevin Love (PF, 27), Matthew Dellavedova (PG, 25), Tristan Thompson (PF/C, 25)

Notable Draftable Players: JR Smith (SG, 30), Iman Shumpert (SG, 25), Timofey Mozgov (C, 29)

Dallas Mavericks:

Protected Players: Dirk Nowitzki (PF, 37), Wesley Matthews (SG, 29), Justin Anderson (SG, 22), Chandler Parsons (SF, 27), Zaza Pachulia (C, 32)

Notable Draftable Players: Salah Mjeri (C, 29), Deron Williams (PG, 31), David Lee (PF, 33)

Denver Nuggets:

Protected Players: Emmanuel Mudiay (PG, 20), Will Barton (SG/SF, 25), Nikola Jokic (C, 21), Gary Harris (SG, 21), Wilson Chandler (SF, 29)

Notable Draftable Players: Danillo Gallinari (SF, 27), Kenneth Faried (PF, 26), Jusuf Nurkic (C, 21)

Detroit Pistons:

Protected Players: Andre Drummond (C, 22), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, 23), Stanley Johnson (SF, 19), Reggie Jackson (PG, 27), Tobias Harris (SF, 23)

Notable Draftable Players: Marcus Morris (PF, 26)

Golden State Warriors:

Protected Players: Stephen Curry (PG, 28), Klay Thompson (SG, 26), Draymond Green (PF, 26), Harrison Barnes (SF, 23), Andre Iguodala (SF, 32)

Notable Draftable Players: Andrew Bogut (C, 31), Shaun Livingston (PG, 30), Festus Ezeli (C, 26), Marreese Speights (PF/C, 28)

Houston Rockets:

Protected Players: James Harden (SG, 26), Donatas Motiejunas (PF, 25), Trevor Ariza (SF,30), Patrick Beverley (PG, 27), Clint Capela (PF, 21)

Notable Draftable Players: Dwight Howard (C, 30), Terrence Jones (PF, 24)

Indiana Pacers:

Protected Players: Paul George (SF, 27), Myles Turner (PF/C, 20), Monta Ellis (SG, 30), George Hill (PG, 30), Ian Mahinmi (C, 29)

Notable Draftable Players: CJ Miles (SF, 29), Rodney Stuckey (G, 30)

Los Angeles Clippers:

Protected Players: Chris Paul (PG, 31), Blake Griffin (PF, 27), DeAndre Jordan (C, 27), Jamal Crawford (SG, 36), JJ Redick (SG, 31)

Notable Draftable Players: Wesley Johnson (SG/SF, 28), Jeff Green (SF, 28)

Los Angeles Lakers:

Protected Players: Jordan Clarkson (PG, 23), DeAngelo Russell (G, 20), Julius Randle (PF, 20), Larry Nance, Jr. (PF, 23), Louis Williams (G, 29)

Notable Draftable Players: Nick Young (SG/SF, 30), Roy Hibbert (C, 30)

Memphis Grizzlies:

Protected Players: Marc Gasol (C, 31), Mike Conley (PG, 28), Zach Randolph (PF, 34), Tony Allen (SG, 34), Matt Barnes (SF, 36)

Notable Draftable Players: Vince Carter (SG, 39)

Miami Heat:

Protected Players: Chris Bosh (PF/C, 32), Dwyane Wade (SG, 34), Justise Winslow (SF, 20), Hassan Whiteside (C, 26), Josh Richardson (SG, 22)

Notable Draftable Players: Luol Deng (SF, 31), Goran Dragic (PG, 30), Joe Johnson (SG/SF, 34)

Milwaukee Bucks:

Protected Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo (PG/SF, 21), Khris Middleton (SG/SF, 24), Jabari Parker (F, 21), Greg Monroe (PF/C, 25), John Henson (PF/C, 25)

Notable Draftable Players: Michael Carter-Williams (PG, 24)

Minnesota Timberwolves:

Protected Players: Karl Anthony Towns (PF/C, 20), Andrew Wiggins (SG/SF, 21), Zach Lavine (G, 21), Shabazz Muhammad (SG/SF, 23), Gorgui Dieng (C, 26)

Notable Draftable Players: Nikola Pekovic (C, 30), Ricky Rubio (PG, 25)

New Orleans Pelicans:

Protected Players: Anthony Davis (PF/C, 23), Jrue Holiday (PG, 25), Ryan Anderson (PF, 28), Eric Gordon (SG, 26), Tyreke Evans (G/SF, 27)

Notable Draftable Players: Norris Cole (PG, 27)

New York Knicks:

Protected Players: Carmelo Anthony (SF, 31), Kristaps Porzingis (PF, 20), Robin Lopez (C, 28), Aaron Afflalo (SG, 30), Langston Galloway (G, 23)

Notable Draftable Players: Jose Calderon (PG, 34)

Oklahoma City Thunder:

Protected Players: Kevin Durant (SF, 27), Russell Westbrook (PG, 27), Serge Ibaka (PF, 27), Enes Kanter (C, 23), Steven Adams (C, 22)

Notable Draftable Players: Dion Waiters (SG, 24), Andre Roberson (SG, 24), Cameron Payne (PG, 21)

Philadelphia 76ers:

Protected Players: Jahlil Okafor (C, 20), Nerlens Noel (PF/C, 22), Joel Embiid (C, 22), Ish Smith (PG, 27), Robert Covington (SG/SF, 24)

Notable Draftable Players: None

Phoenix Suns:

Protected Players: Eric Bledsoe (PG, 26), Devin Booker (SG, 19), Brandon Knight (G, 24), Alex Len (C, 22), TJ Warren (SF, 22)

Notable Draftable Players: Tyson Chandler (C, 33)

Portland Trail Blazers:

Protected Players: Damian Lillard (PG, 25), CJ McCollum (SG, 24), Mason Plumlee (C, 26), Al-Farouq Aminu (SF, 25), Meyers Leonard (PF, 24)

Notable Draftable Players: Allen Crabbe (SG, 24), Maurice Harkless (SF, 23)

Sacramento Kings:

Protected Players: DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C, 25), Willie Cauley-Stein (C, 22), Rajon Rondo (PG, 30), Rudy Gay (SF, 29), Darren Collison (PG, 28)

Notable Draftable Players: Kosta Koufos (C, 27), Omri Casspi (SF, 27), Ben McLemore (SG, 23)

San Antonio Spurs:

Protected Players: Kawhi Leonard (SF, 24), LaMarcus Aldridge (PF, 30), Jonathon Simmons (SG, 27), Tony Parker (PG, 33), Danny Green (SG, 28)

Notable Draftable Players: Tim Duncan (C, 40), Manu Ginobli (SG, 37), Boban Marjanovic (C, 27), Patty Mills (PG, 27)

Toronto Raptors:

Protected Players: Kyle Lowry (PG, 30), DeMar Derozan (SG, 26), Jonas Valanciunas (C, 24), Norman Powell (SG, 20), Cory Joseph (PG, 24)

Notable Draftable Players: Terrence Ross (SG/SF, 25), Bismack Biyombo (C, 23), Patrick Patterson (PF, 27), DeMarre Carroll (SF, 29)

Utah Jazz:

Protected Players: Rudy Gobert (C, 23), Derrick Favors (PF, 24), Dante Exum (G, 20), Gordon Hayward (SF, 26), Rodney Hood (SG, 23)

Notable Draftable Players: Alec Burks (SG, 24)

Washington Wizards:

Protected Players: John Wall (PG, 25), Bradley Beal (SG, 22), Markieff Morris (PF, 26), Marcin Gortat (C, 31), Otto Porter, Jr. (SF, 22)

Notable Draftable Players: Jared Dudley (SF, 30)

Now that I’ve wasted hours of my life with that, it’s time to actually draft Team X. It is going to have 3 players at each position. Here is the team…

Starting PG: Goran Dragic

Dragic will be happy to get the most shots, being the first scoring option. He’s flourished in this role before, when he had a breakout season with the Phoenix Suns.

Starting SG: Alec Burks

Another player who can score the ball efficiently, Burks is one of the more underappreciated players in the NBA. He can score in whatever way you need him too, and he isn’t bad on defense at all.

Starting SF: Kent Bazemore

Bazemore isn’t the best SF on this roster, but he fits what the team needs here- someone who can defend the other team’s best player, and knock down jumpshots. With Dragic penetrating, having Burks and Bazemore ready for a triple will be fantastic.

Starting PF: Pau Gasol

In Pau Gasol, this team now has a team leader, and a PF who can do whatever is needed of him. The only concerns are his expiring contract and old age.

Starting C: Al Jefferson

This pick is quite similar to the Gasol selection. Another aging veteran on an expiring contract, he instantly provides quality scoring.

Backup PGs: Patty Mills, Cameron Payne

Patty Mills is a fantastic jump shooter, but not the best ball handler. However, this is okay, as we have another ball handler on the bench. He will provide some instant offense for us off of the bench.

Cameron Payne was one of my favorites players who entered last year’s draft, and I think it would be fantastic for Team X to have him. He can learn the offense for a year or two, and eventually take the starting job. I believe by the beginning of his 2nd contract he will be a starting-caliber PG.

Backup SGs: Iman Shumpert, Allen Crabbe

Iman Shumpert is a solid 3 & D player. He knocks down open jumpers, and plays great defense, like Bazemore.

Crabbe is a slightly lesser version of Shumpert or Bazemore, but he’s oozing with potential.

Backup SFs: Danillo Gallinari, Evan Turner

Remember when I said Bazemore wasn’t the best SF on the roster? That’s because of Danillo Gallinari. Possibly the best scorer on the team, he’ll be a great first option for the bench.

Evan Turner is the other ball handler I referred to when talking about Mills. He’s had an up and down career, but shined this year in Boston, playing the role of backup ball handler. He’ll do the same with Team X.

Backup PFs: David Lee, Patrick Patterson

David Lee has had a good career, but it’s been a tough season for him. He got no playing time in Boston, and very little in Dallas. If he plays enough and we use him the right way, he can be a good player again.

In today’s NBA, you can’t win if your PF can’t make most of his mid-range jumpshots, and be able to make an open three. That’s why I picked Patrick Patterson over a more popular player like Kenneth Faried. He is great from mid-range, and very good from beyond the line.

Backup Cs: Tyson Chandler, Festus Ezeli

Tyson Chandler has a contract that is way too long and way too big, yes, but this team doesn’t have many other guys on huge deals, we can afford this. He’ll be a great enforcer and rim protector off of the bench.

Festus Ezeli will be a Free Agent who could command big money, but if Team X retains him, he’ll be a future DPOY candidate.

Now that all of that is done, how good would this team be? Since I live on the east coast, I’ll place this team in the Eastern Conference. Looking at the roster, I think this team could end up somewhere very close to .500, which would most likely make them the 9th seed, or 3-4 games out of the playoffs.

How do you think this team would have performed? What players would you hope your favorite team kept? Make sure to let me know what you think about Team X! My Twitter handle is @edelmanpis, make sure to follow so you’ll be made aware when I write an article, and follow @TheLastTimeout for all TLT updates.

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