This piece was mostly composed by Bobby Mummery. Follow him on twitter at @rlawrencem
UPDATE: Follow the draft's progress on this spreadsheet.
Starting today on Basketball Pantheon, 20 GMs will scour the entirety of NBA and ABA history to attempt to draft the best team possible. Ever since learning more about the game within the game, I have wanted to do something like this project. With the rise of small ball juggernauts like the Heatles and Warriors, I began to realize the critical importance of match-up considerations, as key players were played off the floor because of a single weakness. I have also always loved history, in all its forms, and I began to wonder how the players of the past would fare in these modern styles. Most of all, I wanted to take the greatest players of all-time and imagine them in a modern context. As the game changes, some players become obsolete, whereas others are given fresh life, and I wanted to figure out which players fit each category.
We will have a 13-round snake draft, with a 14th round for each GM can select a coach at the end. Each GM will have eight hours to pick, mostly because we have GMs on two different continents and want to accommodate different sleep and work schedules. At the end of the draft, the GMs will select a peak season to represent each player; they will have their full squad at their disposal when they decide which version of Wilt Chamberlain or Vince Carter fits their team best.
This project is intended to consider the value of NBA/ABA players at their peaks. Sorry, Karl Malone, the fact that you were great well into your thirties will not matter as much here as it does in discussions of the greatest Power Forward of all-time. The only way in which future seasons will be accounted for is when calculating injury risk or when considering which secondary skills a player would have picked up in a modern-day context. To avoid an over-reliance on modern players, GMs may not select more than four players from a ten-year period and must take at least four from before the 1990-91 season, when Michael Jordan won his first championship, to lend greater diversity to the rosters and prevent teams from loading up on players who they already know will translate stylistically.
Furthermore, each player will be considered to have developed with modern advances in strategy and medicine; in other words, Bernard King might recover better from his knee injuries, and Sidney Moncrief will not have to figure out how to incorporate the 3-point shot into his game when he is already a twenty-two year-old professional. In addition, personalities should be taken into consideration; how many teams have imploded because of the disease of more? Would it be a good idea to draft Bad News Barnes, Michael Ray Richardson, Dennis Rodman, and Metta World Peace to the same team? Perhaps not. Throughout the process, outside analysts will provide commentaries, voicing their opinions on how the GMs have performed thus far.
What will happen? Who will go big, and who will go small? Which players will be reaches, and which ones will become steals? What market inefficiencies will arise, and who will pounce on them? I don’t know, but stay tuned to find out at Basketball Pantheon and give instant reactions at our Twitter hashtag!