The Superteam Challenge

Bill Simmons and his new website, The Ringer, issued a challenge earlier today asking, can you build a superteam to beat the Warriors and can you do it on a budget?

We never back down from a challenge so we decided to build our own superteams to try and take down the 2016-2017 Warriors and we used The Ringer’s rule:

“So that this isn’t complete anarchy, we placed a restriction: You have to pick your five-man rotation on a $15 budget.”

They ranked players from $7 for LeBron to $4 for John Wall to $1 to everyone else. We followed their budget and here’s what we came up with:

Kelly’s Superteam:

  • Anthony Davis ($5)
  • Russell Westbrook ($5)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo ($3)
  • Devin Booker ($1)
  • Justise Winslow ($1)

Kelly: What caused problems for the Warriors during their playoff run this year? Obviously they didn’t have Kevin Durant yet, but still. They had problems with length, a defense’s ability to switch relatively easily and pure physical power.

As someone who thinks Anthony Davis is incredible NBA talent, there’s no way I was making a superteam without him. Despite an injury-plagued season, Davis finished 4th in the NBA in blocks per game, 7th in points per game and 9th in rebounds. He makes a living off of defending the rim and using his speed to get his massive frame up and down the court. His long arms would cause problems for any of them, including Durant, especially if they tried to make their way into the paint.

Now think of a pick and roll offense with Russell Westbrook and him. And alley-oops and any other combo play you can dream up. Like this one:

(Dell any chance you want to get on the phone and make my dreams a reality?)

Westbrook is also probably the one person in the NBA who is most pissed off about the Durant move. He also thinks he’s better than Steph Curry. Pair that together and I think everyone would be running for covering if he came barreling towards the basket. His speed and athleticism would torment Curry and/or Klay Thompson and force them into bad decisions and shots.

Then there’s Giannis who adds to my length and versatility requirements. He adds a little bit of everything to this team – defense (against Durant or Green or Iggy or whoever), an ability to create turnovers and ball-handling skills to free up Westbrook. He provides something in every stat category – points, assists, blocks, rebounds, steals – perfect to take on one of the most versatile teams ever.

Now it gets a little interesting. Obviously, I used up a good chunk of my budget, so I went for youth. Everyone touts the Warriors’ relative youth of its core-four, well Westbrook is the elder man on this team at the ripe old age of 27. Everyone else is 23 or under.

I’m banking on Devin Booker being the poor man’s Klay Thompson since sadly I can’t put the real Klay on my “superteam.” Booker had an incredible rookie year, which many did not see coming. The 19-year-old had 13.8 points a game, and 34 percent from three. Meanwhile, Winslow showed he was a capable defender last year and versatile player on the court. He can rebound and provide some scoring when necessary, which he won’t need to do a ton of as the 5th offensive option on this team. His job will be locking down his Warrior while everyone else braces themselves for a Splash Brothers-Durant attack.

Max’s Superteam:

  • LeBron James ($7)
  • Anthony Davis ($5)
  • Kent Bazemore ($1)
  • George Hill ($1)
  • Nicolas Batum ($1)

Max: To beat the Warriors you need to be able to space the floor with shooting at all five positions, grab enough offensive rebounds to keep them honest and be athletic and capable of switching 1-5 on defense. This team comes pretty damn close.

As the Finals reminded us, LeBron is the best basketball player on the planet. This lineup admittedly requires him to shoulder a huge burden on both sides of the ball, but he’s the only player capable of it. He will handle the ball a great deal on offense, hunting Steph Curry every possession just as he did in the Finals.

Davis is at the top of the list of the league’s most athletic big men. He isn’t as much of an offensive rebounding threat as I would like in this scenario, but I know I won’t be filled with dread if he gets switched onto Curry on the perimeter. He also provides James with perhaps the best pick-and-roll partner he’s ever had.

Those pick-and-rolls will be the fulcrum of my offense. A screen from George Hill, a bigger guard who can push Curry around, to get the switch and then another from Davis, whose gravitational pull will open up shots for Bazemore and Batum.

Defensively, this team will probably struggle to contain Durant the most. I’d stick LeBron on Draymond Green to neutralize the Curry-Green pick-and-roll and hope Batum can stay in front of Durant long enough for help to appear. Batum isn’t quick enough to stay in front Durant, but he has size and strength to matchup adequately with him and if my team can wall off the paint and force Durant into midrange jumpers, I’ll be happy.

Bazemore is probably the weakest link on this squad, but I love him and the guy just competes. He cut his teeth in the league trying to stop Curry and Thompson and his years in Hawks University have turned him into one of the better 3-and-D wings in the game. He’s going to harass Thompson all night and has the size to bother Curry on switches. His shooting is a little inconsistent, but he’s never played with a creator like LeBron.

This is a five-man unit with enough speed, athleticism, shooting and LeBron to give the Warriors and their new “four horseman of the apocalypse” lineup a run for its money.

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