If you're a big basketball fan like myself, you probably can't help but wonder what the NBA would look like if there was only one option where its players would have no other choice but to play for their hometowns. Bustling metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New York City have had their fair share of tremendously talented teams and that shift in power stands up to this day.
But, if this geographical shakeup were to happen today, then there may not be the same old super teams in the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. The league is lopsided to most—if not all—of us, but this shakeup might actually make the regular season games and postseason runs a little bit more interesting for all of us and not just the front-runners who like whatever teams are winning right now.
Don't we all want to see the homegrown players play for their hometown teams? Of course, it's likely a player's childhood dream to represent his hometown team, but it's also a pressure cooker type of test, as there will be a tad bit more pressure to win games for the home crowd.
Let's take a closer look at the 10 best current NBA teams if players played for their hometown and 10 who'd be bottom feeders. This list will be centered on the players' talent levels, how'd they mesh as a group on the court and vice versa. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
20 Best: Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards have been plagued by the so-called Washington, D.C. sports curse for a while now. The Wizards' last championship came in 1978 over the Seattle SuperSonics, their last conference title in 1979 and last division title in 2017. Okay, the latter may not be so bad, but the Wizards tend to fall apart in the playoffs.
Kevin Durant is undoubtedly one of the best players in the league and it'd be such a pleasant sight to see if Durant were to play for the Wizards.
Durant's teammates would be Ty Lawson, Rudy Gay, and Ed Davis—all of whom would provide a lot of defense.
This lineup wouldn't be the most stacked, but having Durant makes them a contender.
19 Bottom Feeders: Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns are one of those teams that'd be a disaster if they stuck with their hometown guys like Jerryd Bayless, Channing Frye, Bryce Cotton, and Alan Williams.
It just wouldn't be a good prospect for the Suns to rely on Bayless as your primary scorer, as Cotton would pretty much have to handle the duties on the court. Jefferson would also have to play 35-plus minutes per game, which will probably wear him out. Plus the Suns wouldn't have much rim protection if a guy like Williams was to guard the paint.
18 Best: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets have been a pretty good team in recent years, but they may be even better if they were to stick with their hometown guys Jimmy Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Gerald Green; not a bad big 3.
They may be a little weak at guard, being anchored by Jonathon Simmons and Tim Frazier, so this would have to be some old school basketball, in getting the points in the paint.
And, if this idea does happen somehow, the paint would be locked down by Jordan and Kendrick Perkins on the Rockets' roster.
17 Bottom Feeders: Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers are sort of that average team nowadays. The Trail Blazers are competitive enough to make the playoffs, but lack the hard-hitting drives in order to go all the way.
Despite the negatives, the Blazers are better off with their current guys like Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as opposed to local guys like Jerami Grant, Terrence Ross and Terrence Jones.
There are barely enough players from Oregon to even have a competitive NBA lineup.
Grant, as you may already know, is a work in progress, while Ross and Jones have quickly morphed into middle-of-the-road players after starting out as promising prospects out of the University of Washington and University of Kentucky, respectively.
16 Best: Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons had their glory years back when the bad boys were in town and they had a bit of a resurgence in the early 2000s, with a title in 2004, but it's been nothing but mediocre basketball for the past decade. .
The Pistons' franchise has dwindled in the past 10 years or so. In our wildest dreams, Detroit would have all Detroit natives like Draymond Green and JaVale McGee, who would be an effective pair. Moreover, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis would be leaders of the backcourt, and Wilson Chandler would be one of the top point scorers.
15 Bottom Feeders: Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic has pretty much been a disappointment this decade with its last conference title in 2009 and division title in 2010, respectively.
The Magic wouldn't be much of a changed team even if they were to sign Orlando natives such as Vince Carter, Chandler Parsons, and Marreese Speights.
Carter is in the twiglight of his career, Parsons isn't sure of his future in Memphis, and Speights is off to China to play for the Guangzhou Long-Lions of the CBA.
On to the next entry, as there's not a whole lot for Magic fans to be excited about right now.
14 Best: Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks are one of those on-and-off teams who often wallow in their sadness after making playoffs runs, only to lose to better teams in the first or second rounds. The Hawks' last division title came in 2015 with a pretty good 60-22 record in 82 games.
That being said, Atlanta would be a much improved team if they were to sign only Atlanta natives. Malcolm Brogdon would be a productive youngster, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would be a trustworthy three-point shooter, and Jae Crowder would play incredible defense. And, of course, Dwight Howard and Derrick Favors would balance the Hawks' lack of defense.
13 Bottom Feeders: Toronto Raptors
Let's face it, the Cleveland Cavaliers own the Toronto Raptors. It seriously doesn't matter if the Raptors have a highly-competitive team because they constantly get overpowered and outmatched by other teams, like, say, whatever team with LeBron James on its roster.
But even if the Raptors look at Toronto-based guys like Cory Joseph, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson and Kelly Olynyk, it wouldn't help them much. Wiggins would be the most promising youngster in Toronto, but Thompson and Olynyk wouldn't be solid starters who would provide a lot of scoring. The latter would likely have trouble shooting the ball with most other teams in the league.
12 Best: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers have always had decent teams, but they've never been good enough to be a fierce competitor in the Eastern Conference. Why's that? They usually lack the support cast to provide assistance for their main star to go all the way.
The Pacers would have a better team with Indianapolis-based guys like Gordon Hayward, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley.
When healthy, Hayward's an elite small forward. Also, Randolph is still a useful player off the bench, as his work on both sides of the spectrum would help balance out an improved Pacers team; and Mike Conley would be a consistent two-way player.
11 Bottom Feeders: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat were once a threat in the Eastern Conference, but not so much anymore.
The current 1-2 punch from Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic is fairly effective, but the lack of a third option has affected the team.
Even if the Heat were to sign Miami-based guys, their revamped roster wouldn't be much of an improvement. Their backcourt would consist of Brandon Knight and Tim Hardaway Jr. Not exactly a duo that would intimidate a lot of teams. Trevor Ariza, however, would be a bright spot on this team or any team in general due to his 3-and-D style.
10 Best: Charlotte Hornets
Since their inclusion in the NBA first as the Bobcats and rebranded the Hornets, Charlotte has never been able to become one of the hottest teams in the league. But if the Hornets were to center their roster around North Carolina-based guys, their three-point guard lineup would be pretty darn powerful. Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, John Wall, John Henson, and Hassan Whiteside would probably throw a block party each night. Not only would this be a team full of talent, but it would be a roster that's meant for today's NBA. The Hornets would probably form a dynasty in a league like this.
9 Bottom Feeders: Philadelphia 76ers
If we were talking about all-time players on this list, then Philly would be right up there, as they'd be led by a nearly unstoppable duo of Kobe Bryant and Wilt Chamberlain. However, if we're only looking at current players, Philly's prospects take a massive dip.
But if the 76ers were to sign Philadelphia-based guys instead of trusting the process, then they might fall apart in a shorter amount of time.
Yes, Kyle Lowry plays in the Great White North, but he's from Philly. Lowry would lead the 76ers' offense and the Morris twins could get the other work done. Dion Waiters is another solid piece, but there are simply no superstars on an all-Philly team.
8 Best: New York Knicks
There's not much of a comparison between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets as both teams have been bad to watch in the last decade or so.
But, if the Knicks were to chase after their top five ballers in the streets of New York City, then they'd be a massive threat to other teams in the Eastern Conference. Carmelo Anthony is arguably one of the best players, Andre Drummond and Kenneth Faried would put together an offensive duo that could shut down opposing offensive duos, Kemba Walker has a ton of game, and Danny Green's 3-and-D style is simply amazing.
7 Bottom Feeders: New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans aren't exactly a lucky team, but they're not a top-notch team either.
But, the Pelicans wouldn't be a whole lot better if they were to chase after the New Orleans-based guys, like, say, Paul Millsap, Kelly Oubre Jr., Thaddeus Young, Elfrid Payton, and DJ Augustin. Millsap would have the most amount of experience, but the Pelicans' backcourt would be undersized and under-experienced. Plus De'Aaron Fox is just a rookie so his potential as a point guard isn't always guaranteed. Fox also struggles with consistency issues so that's another thing that could hurt the Pelicans sooner than later.
6 Best: Chicago Bulls
Some of the Chicago Bulls' previous teams were forces to be reckoned with. That hasn't really been the case in recent years though.
But, if the local guys who were born and raised in Chicagoland were to be a part of the Bulls' roster, then the roster will likely get the much-needed wake up call. Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, Jabari Parker, and Jahlil Okafor would cover the entire court.
Yes, Wade and Rose are well past their prime, but their front court would be deadly.
Also, Davis' skill would make him become the Bulls' under 30 star and might be what they need in order to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and maybe the Finals.
5 Bottom Feeders: Golden State Warriors
The development of Aaron Gordon would be the key to all this, as Damian Lillard isn't a bad player to fall back on. After all, he's pretty much kept the Portland Trail Blazers relevant as the current superstar of his team, but the depth of this hypothetical Warriors lineup just isn't there.
It's obvious Jeremy Lin wouldn't exactly make for a dynamic partner with Lillard.
Gordon and Lillard could potentially have some good games together, but overall the unit just doesn't have enough.
4 Best: Cleveland Cavaliers
Admittedly there wouldn't be much to this Cavaliers team, but as we've seen, as long as they have LeBron they remain competitive. LeBron would probably have the worst core he's ever had with only Cleveland kids on one team. His supporting cast would consist of C.J. McCollum (the only other solid player on this team), along with Larry Nance Jr, who we saw team up with LeBron briefly this past season. Trey Burke would be anchoring at point guard. As we said, any team LeBron is on is automatically a playoff team. And this lineup is still fairly respectable.
3 Bottom Feeders: Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings haven't been a decent team in a little over a decade so we'll cut to the chase and reassure you that the Kings' roster wouldn't be much better if the team were to check out Northern California guys from above the Bay Area.
Out of all the NorCal guys, Ryan Anderson is arguably the biggest name on this specific list.
Anderson currently plays for the Phoenix Suns as a power forward. And, frankly, Anderson should stay in the desert, as he won't have a decent supporting cast in guys like Kyle Baxter and Dakarai Allen in Sacramento, Calif.
2 Best: Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angles may actually be able to field two competitive rosters, but let's just stick with the flagship L.A. team, as we're pretty sure most L.A. boys dream of growing up to be a Laker. A Los Angeles Lakers team full of Southern California guys would be a no-brainer, but there's no way in heck that this would ever happen as there simply wouldn't be enough money to pay all these guys. But, we can still dream about this, right?
Don't get me wrong, the Lakers have some talented players like LeBron James, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma, but they'd be a super dominant team if they were to field Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson (or DeMar DeRozan), Kevin Love, James Harden and Paul George for a reunion with Russell Westbrook. Oh my gosh, L.A. would be like the Warriors of this hypothetical league.
1 Bottom Feeders: Minnesota Timberwolves
The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves is looking quite bright with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in the driver's seats.
So why would the T-Wolves want to trade these rising, young stars for their local, hometown guys? Sure, point guard Tyus Jones could have the playing time that he deserves as a point guard, but he'd be unable to rely on subpar forwards like Kris Humphries and Alan Anderson for a lot of points.
If the T-Wolves want to continue winning games, they should stick with what they have instead of checking out the locals in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.