LeBron is back home in Cleveland as its homecoming King, and that got Elite Daily thinking — what would happen if every NBA team was composed of its hometown players?
Back on Monday, the website posted hypothetical starting fives for 27 NBA teams — and the Sonics — which got us thinking as well: How would the hometown Sixers actually play?
We’ve dealt with hypothetical sports scenarios before, but an NBA starting five is a completely different animal. Let’s take a look at the starting lineup:
Point guard: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors — Cardinal Dougherty High School
A completely homegrown guy thanks to his two seasons at Villanova, Lowry is developing into a star at just the right time for this hypothetical squad, having just inked a four-year, $48 million deal with the Raptors.
Last year, Lowry set career highs in both scoring (17.9 ppg) and ball distribution (7.4 apg), all while leading Toronto to its first division championship since the 2006-07 campaign.
The advanced stats bear out Lowry’s ability as a playmaker, as well. His effective field goal percentage last year (which gives more weight to three-pointers than two-pointers) checks in at a robust .511, and he assisted almost 35 percent of his team’s field goals while on the floor.
Also, he did this to the Nets:
For all intents and purposes, Lowry would be the centerpiece of these Sixers — and a clear step up from MCW as he stands now.
Shooting guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers —Lower Merion High School
Okay, so Kobe’s never going to come back — but wouldn’t it be fun if he did?
Knee problems and extended rehab from a torn achilles limited Bryant to just six games last year, which makes it difficult to forecast exactly what version of the Black Mamba we’d be getting.
Of course, a fully healthy Kobe’s abilities go without saying, but at age 35, he might be forced to put the days of 20-25 field goal attempts per game behind him.
But even a slightly diminished Bryant paired with Lowry would give the Sixers a devastating 1-2 punch on the perimeter, and would stretch many NBA defenses to the breaking point.
The sight of that might erase this moment from Philly’s collective memory:
Shooting guard: Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans — American Christian Academy
Technically, Evans is from Chester, but we’ll just ignore that fact for now.
A shooting guard until his conversion to a small forward last year, the 6′ 6″ Evans has produced diminishing returns since his electric 2009-10 season that produced a Rookie of the Year nod.
2013-14 saw Evans start only 22 games while he posted a career-low scoring average (14.5 ppg) during his adjustment to the new position.
Evans might not be a guy that can give you 36+ minutes a night, but he still remains a threat to get hot inside the arc from time to time, which makes him a useful asset. Due to size limitations, we’d be forced to put Evans back at his original position as well. Perhaps that would spark something for the former top-five pick.
And no matter what happens, he’ll always have this ridiculous buzzer-beater:
Small forward: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets — St. Patrick High School (Elizabeth, NJ)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Kidd-Gilchrist has already had the “bust” label attached to him, and perhaps with good reason.
Last year, Kidd-Gilchrist managed to regress even further from a middling rookie campaign, posting a dreadful 12.0 Player Efficiency Rating (a standardized rating of per-minute performance developed by stats maven John Hollinger — the league average is 15.0).
Kidd-Gilchrist is only 20, so he has time to develop, but he may never turn out to be the rebounding machine that many envisioned him to be when he was sharing the floor with Anthony Davis at Kentucky.
And to make matters worse, Kidd-Gilchrist has the loosest ties to the city of anyone in the starting five, having grown up in Somerdale, N.J.
With these Sixers being forced into a three-guard lineup, Kidd-Gilchrist would have to step up considerably if he wanted to avoid becoming a liability on the defensive end of the floor.
Power forward: Hakim Warrick, Liaoning Flying Leopards (Chinese Basketball Association) — Friends’ Central School
For the sake of the lineup, we’ll also have to ignore the fact that Warrick now plays thousands of miles away for a league best known for building a statue of Stephon Marbury and having a team that got into a vicious brawl with John Thompson III’s Georgetown Hoyas.
Warrick has never started more than 43 games in an NBA season, which means that he’d be saddled with an unprecedented workload for the hypothetical Sixers.
He’s not much of a presence on the glass either, having snagged only 4.8 percent of possible defensive rebounds in his career.
To top it off, Warrick stands at only 6′ 9″, not unprecedented for a power forward, but certainly not a figure one would want to attach to a team’s tallest player.
Warrick may have Philly roots, but the Sixers would be better off sticking with 7-footer Joel Embiid and 6’11” Nerlens Noel up top.
The folks at Elite Daily have made the hometown Sixers critically undersized, which dampens our enthusiasm for a deadly backcourt.
Wilt Chamberlain can’t walk through that hypothetical door, but the Morris twins (Marcus and Markieff) could certainly take the floor for these Sixers. Placing the 6’9″ Marcus at small forward and the 6’10” Markieff up top would be a solid pairing — if confusing for announcers.
On the other hand, thanks to the 2011 lockout, we’ve already seen what happens when a team of Philly natives takes on the NBA’s best:
Until the next lockout, Philly can say “scoreboard” to every other city in the nation.