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My 1995 – 1996 NBA Squad Game

One of the motivations to create CubicleGM was the frequency of sports related emails that arrived and left my inbox on a weekly basis.  Everything from the ‘Have you seen this story yet?’ to ‘How many of the ’96 Seattle Mariners can you name?’.  The first still come through the inbox, while the second are often sent as links that to the amazingness that is Sporcle.com.  A great one came from one-time CubicleGM writer Kevin.  You are creating a team for the ’95-’96 NBA season – who is on the squad?  The rules:

1. No more than 2 of the periods greats on the team.  Jordan, Shaq, Malone, Pippen, and Stockton isn’t a legit squad.

2.  At least 10 dudes on the squad, who together averaged no more than 110 points during the season.

3.  Make the youngsters relatively real.  Kobe, Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, and Antonio McDyess cant all be on your squad.

[We pause a moment to note our sponsors:  Start making more money by using point spread.]

Quickly spinning around the league in 10-15 minutes here is what I came up with.  Unabashedly, I love my squad.  I wish they could have played together and it isn’t even an unfathomable team.  They probably wouldn’t have toppled Jordan and his crew, but they would have been a good team and REAL fun to watch.

Coach: George Karl

Starters:

F: Dennis Rodman

F: Sean Kemp

F: Penny Hardaway

G: Jeff Hornacek

G: Mookie Blalock

Admittedly, they may not seem to gel at first, but that’s because it’s a defensive minded team first.  Rodman (who now plays video poker of all things?) and Kemp protect the hoop and rebound in a big way, while Blalock plays pressure D on the ball.  A young Hardaway plays stellar defense, while Hornacek knows his role and plays within his game.  On offense, it’s a balanced show with Kemp scoring within 12 feet of the basket, Penny getting his driving to the hole or hitting jumpers, Hornacek always ready for the kickout, and Blalock getting his where needed.  Blalock, lets not forget was a sold scorer, averaging in the 15-18 range during the prime of his career.  This squad doesn’t need that many, but we’ll take it when others are having an off night.

On the Bench:

G: Steve Kerr

G: Nate McMillan

G: Ed O’Bannon

C: Arvydas Sabonis

F: Cherokee Parks

Via trade the squad came to draft both O’Bannon out of UCLA and Parks out of Duke.  Not outrageous.  The core of the bench, however, is Steve Kerr – a consummate team player who will seemlessly spell Hornacek both during games and during his inevitable injuries.  McMillan is brought in to add leadership to a pretty young team.  The top 5 guards (Hardaway, Hornacek, Blalock, Kerr, McMillan) can play together in so many combinations that coach George Karl will constantly be able to play the matchups.  Put in both Kerr and Hornacek for an unmatched sharpshooting duo.  Blalock, McMillan and Hardaway for the best defensive duo.  If pushing came to shoving, Hardaway plays a little point guard, with Kemp at 3, Rodman at 4, and Sabonis at 5.  Big man rotation that still has enough offense.  Yada Yada Yada, George Karl won’t be handcuffed.  Against teams with a bona fide big man, more minutes are shuffled to Sabonis to allow him to bang bodies underneath. As it is one of Sabonis’s first years in the NBA, he is more than happy to come off the bench and help out where needed.

Of course there are some matchups that this team can’t handle, but by and large they are covered.  Fun, unique, and full of characters – I love the squad.  For some reason, BasketballReference seems to agree, projecting the team for 56-58 wins, even adjusting for playing time.

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