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Power Rankings For The Alumni Games

 

With the resolution of the lockout still far on the horizon, NBA players have stayed in the spotlight in unorthodox ways. Kobe and Derrick Rose highlighted a series of exhibition games in Manila; LeBron and Kevin Durant have made appearances in the semi-pro “Drew League” in LA.

From a fan’s perspective, the most intriguing exhibition is a showdown between West Coast players in the Drew League and East Coast players in the DC-based Goodman League. While it won’t have the intensity of an NBA game, playing for hometown pride might add some incentive to play defense, instead of planking in the middle of the game like Javale McGee did in Manila.

Another intriguing exhibition series would be between colleges with alumni in the NBA.

The “one-and-done” rule has brought a lot of talent back to the college game and distributed in new ways, and there would be several surprisingly strong teams.

Here’s one unscientific ranking of the top-12:

1. Wake Forest: PG Chris Paul, C Tim Duncan, SF Josh Howard, PG Jeff Teague, PF Al Farouq-Aminu

Under the late Skip Prosser, the Demon Deacons had a very underrated pipeline to the NBA. Paul would make the talented but erratic trio on the perimeter (Howard, Teague and Al-Aminu) immeasurably better, while Duncan is the rare elite seven-footer who actually played in college.

2. Texas: SF Kevin Durant, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, PF Tristan Thompson, PG DJ Augustin, SG Daniel Gibson, SF Jordan Hamilton, PF Damion James

While recent failures in the Tournament have put Rick Barnes on the hot seat in Austin, there’s no denying his ability to develop NBA talent. Durant alone would make the Longhorns a threat; combine him with two defensive-minded big men with elite athleticism (Aldridge and Thompson) and a host of outside-shooters and UT would have a team to be reckoned with.

3. UCLA: PG Russell Westbrook, PF Kevin Love, PG Baron Davis, PG Jrue Holiday, SG Aaron Afflalo, PG Darren Collison, SF Trevor Ariza, SF Matt Barnes, PG Jordan Farmar, C Ryan Hollins

Under Ben Howland, UCLA has become “Point Guard U”, producing three front-line NBA points (Westbrook, Holiday and Collison) in his time there. Kevin Love’s rebounding ability would trigger an unbelievable fast-break, but he’d have his hands full playing on a very unbalanced team without much help for him upfront.

4. Duke: PF Carlos Boozer, PF Elton Brand, SF Luol Deng, SF Corey Maggette, SF Shane Battier, SG JJ Redick, SF Mike Dunleavy, SG Gerald Henderson, PG Kyrie Irving

Coach K has gotten a somewhat undeserved reputation for not developing pro talent; the Blue Devils would have a very deep team. They’ve got a lot of depth upfront, but their roster would be fairly unbalanced with a lot of forwards and not many guards. They’d probably go as far as #1 overall pick Kyrie Irving could take them.

5. UConn: SG Ray Allen, SF Rudy Gay, SG Ben Gordon, SG Rip Hamilton, C Emeka Okafor, PF Charlie Villanueva, SF Caron Butler, PG Kemba Walker, C Hasheem Thabeet

There’s no better program builder in the NCAA than Jim Calhoun, who turned a state school in a sleepy college town with no tradition into a high-level NBA factory. With three dynamic wing players (Allen, Gay and Gordon) capable of dropping 20 points, UConn would be incredibly explosive, but a lack of size upfront would hurt.

6. Kansas: SF Paul Pierce, PF Darrell Arthur, PF Nick Collison, PG Kirk Hinrich, PG Mario Chalmers, SG Xavier Henry, PF Marcus Morris, PF Markieff Morris, SG Brandon Rush, SF Julian Wright, PF Drew Gooden

Under Bill Self, the Jayhawks have been one of the most consistent programs in college basketball: winning the Big 12 seven straight years while steadily producing solid NBA players. Pierce, one of the holdovers from the Roy Williams era, is the only star talent, but he’d be surrounded by a deep and versatile collection of role players.

7. Georgia Tech: PF Chris Bosh, C Derrick Favors, PG Jarrett Jack, PF Thaddeus Young, SG Anthony Morrow, PG Will Bynum

Asides from a Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2004, former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt got a little out of a lot in his time in Atlanta. Bosh and Favors, two one-and-done lottery picks, would be an excellent big man duo, while the Yellow Jackets would have a lot of outside shooting to spread the floor.
 
8. Florida: C Joakim Noah, PF Al Horford, PF David Lee, SF Mike Miller, PF Udonis Haslem, SF Corey Brewer, C Marreese Speights

The core of the two-time defending champions from the middle of the decade (Noah, Horford and Brewer) would power the Florida team. But with so many talented forwards that need minutes and without any stand out guards, the Gators would be extremely vulnerable to ball-pressure and zones.

9. North Carolina: PG Ty Lawson, PG Ray Felton, SG Vince Carter, SF Marvin Williams, PF Antawn Jamison, C Brendan Haywood, PF Ed Davis, PF Tyler Hansbrough

The Tar Heels are farther down the list than their reputation would suggest, a result of their downturn in the beginning of the decade. As the players from the late 90’s (Carter, Jamison, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace) have aged, there’s been no one from the early 2000’s to pick up the slack. The absence of more players from the 2005 championship team, with two lottery picks (Rashad McCants and Sean May) already out of the NBA, is telling.

10. Kentucky: PG Rajon Rondo, PG John Wall, C DeMarcus Cousins, C Nazr Mohammed, SG Jodie Meeks, PG Eric Bledsoe, PF Patrick Patterson, PG Brandon Knight

No coach has mastered the one-and-done system better than Kentucky’s John Calipari, and the Wildcats will continue to produce NBA players as long as Calipari stays in Lexington. They would have an intriguing amount of size up-front (Cousins and Mohammed) as well as penetrating point guards that could coexist defensively (Rondo and Wall), but their youth and lack of outside shooting would likely be their undoing.

11. Arizona: SG Andre Iguodala, PG Jason Terry, SF Derrick Williams, PF Channing Frye, PG Jerryd Bayless, PF Jordan Hill, SF Chase Budinger, SG Gilbert Arenas, SF Richard Jefferson

The program has slipped from Lute Olson’s heyday. Many of his stars – Terry, Jefferson, Arenas and Mike Bibby – are on the downside of their careers, and the players from the latter part of this decade are unable to carry the torch. But the presence of Derrick Williams, the walking highlight reel who went #2 in the latest draft, might be a sign that the Wildcats have turned the corner under new coach Sean Miller.

12. Memphis: PG Derrick Rose, SG Tyreke Evans, SF Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG Eliot Williams, PF Shawne Williams

In his time at Memphis, Calipari re-ignited the long-dormant program. His two dribble-drive point guards, Rose and Evans, would be nearly unstoppable from the perimeter if they could figure out how to share the ball. His protégé, Josh Pastner, has kept elite talent coming to Memphis, and in five years, the Tigers will probably have a few more NBA players.

Honorable Mentions:

Syracuse – SF Carmelo Anthony, SF Wesley Johnson, PF Hakim Warrick, SF Donte Greene, PG Jonny Flynn

Alabama – SG Gerald Wallace, PG Mo Williams, PF Antonio McDyess

Marquette – SG Dwyane Wade, SG Wesley Matthews

Michigan State – PF Zach Randolph, SG Jason Richardson, PG Charlie Bell

Stanford – C Brook Lopez, C Robin Lopez, SG Landry Fields, SF Josh Childress

LSU – PF Tyrus Thomas, PF Brandon Bass, PF Glen Davis, PF Anthony Randolph

 

 

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