NBA players take pride in their hometown and where they come from. In the past decade we have seen a player's hometown impact their decision in free agency on multiple occasions. LeBron famously went home to Cleveland and won the first title in franchise history for the Cavaliers. It might affect this year’s free agency as well because Paul George might decide to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for his hometown and play for the Los Angeles Lakers. It is a childhood dream to play for your home town, but it also comes with a lot of pressure to win.
One can’t help but wonder what the NBA might look like in an alternate world where players could only play for their hometown team. Certain regions like New York and Los Angeles have historically had great basketball players and that still rings true today. If this actually happened, the league would be as lopsided as it is today, there would be a super team in Los Angeles likely dominating the West like the Warriors have been doing in real life. In the east Charlotte and Chicago would probably be in the eastern conference championship every season.
This list is based off of how the players currently produce, if it were based on players in their prime the list would look a little different. Either way, the NBA would definitely be a different place under these conditions. Here are the best 15 NBA franchises if players had to stay at home.
15 Washington Wizards
Kevin Durant happens to be one of the best players in the league, so what ever team he is on always has a chance to go to the finals. He would not have that much to work with him though and it definitely would not compare to his current team in Golden State. Avery Bradley and Rudy Gay are both quality starters, but they are not elite level talents that Durant is used to playing with.
Ty Lawson is not a starter at this point in his career, so that would definitely hurt this team's chances in the long run.
Michael Beasley has been a bust for most of his career but he has had a rejuvenating year with the Knicks this season so he might help. The Wizards fans would give anything to get Durant in a Wizards uniform, but they would want to keep John Wall to go with him and Wall is unfortunately from Charlotte.
14 Houston Rockets
The combination of Jimmy Butler and DeAndre Jordan would be exciting to see in Houston, but I think Rocket fans like the team they have now over this starting five. Gerald Green would add some highlight dunks to the team, but he has never been much of a starter in his career. Justice Winslow is a solid young defender who would be a great asset to have on any team.
Kendrick Perkins is obviously the weak link of this bunch even though he is the only one with a Championship ring.
Right now the Rockets are at least the number two team in the West. Under this format they definitely take a few steps back, as their actual team is only one or two players away from being contenders.
13 Toronto Raptors
The team up north has never brought home an NBA championship and if the league realigned so they had only Canadian born players then they would probably have a worse team than they do now. Their number one player and go to guy on offence would have to be Andrew Wiggins, and he is third fiddle on a Timberwolves team who has not won anything in the postseason yet. They have solid rebounding and playoff experience with Kelly Olynk and Tristan Thompson in the front court, but this team would not produce enough scoring with this starting line up. They would struggle to keep up shooting the ball with most teams because their back court of Corey Joseph and Nik Stauskas is fairly weak.
12 Detroit Pistons
This team could make noise in the postseason if it actually existed and it could surprise a lot of people because most of these players play with a chip on their shoulder. This team might actually be an improvement from the squad that they have in Detroit right now and it would definitely embody the toughness of Detroit a lot more. The Pistons have been at their best and won their Championships when they were the bad boys in the 1980s and had good defences with Ben Wallace in the early 2000s.
Draymond Green would immediately bring back the spirit and grit of the bad boy Pistons, which would be fun to watch.
They would also have a emerging young star in Devin Booker, something they do not have right now. This team would definitely win games and would be a playoff team.
11 Miami Heat
Florida is known for having some of the best homegrown athletes that play in all the professional sports leagues. They are most known for their football, but there are a ton of NBA players from south Florida as well. The main problem with this team is that they lack a major superstar that would be able to score consistently and be a closer in crunch time.
They have a solid front court and back court and a good mixture of youth and veteran players.
They would likely be fighting for one of the last spots in the playoffs in the eastern conference in this crazy alternate NBA universe. Udonis Haslem has been on the Miami Heat his entire career and has been apart of all of the franchise's championship teams. However he happens to be the weak link on this squad because he is not much of a starter anymore.
10 Atlanta Hawks
This team from down south in Atlanta has an argument that they could easily be in the top ten because it is hard to find a weak spot in their starting five. Everyone in the lineup could be a starter on most teams in the league with the exception of possibly Malcolm Brogdon because their are so many good point guards in the league. This team's strength would definitely be on the defensive side of the ball. Everyone on the team is some what of a lock down defender besides Derrick Favors. This team would have no problem playing switch everything defence because they can all guard multiple positions. On offence is where they would have trouble because they lack anyone that is a major threat from three.
9 Philadelphia 76ers
This is where we start getting to the best teams in the league and who would be competing for the title when it is all said and done in June. This team might lack the juice to go all the way, but they would definitely compete to have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Lowry and Evans would provide enough scoring and the front court combination of the Morris twins and Hollis-Jefferson would be serviceable.
What hurts this teams chances is that they only have one All-Star player with Lowry at point guard and that would not be enough to get past the top teams in this fantasy league like Chicago and Charlotte in the East. Philly is better off with the team they already have with rising stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both playing at All-Star levels early in their careers.
8 New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans is not known for being a basketball hot spot historically. The best player to ever come from New Orleans is probably Clyde "the glide" Drexler who is the only local in the hall of fame. If they had to put together a current NBA squad their home town players it would be one of the better teams in the league and would definitely be in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Their front court players would definitely be the strength of their roster with Paul Millsap, Thaddeus Young, and Kelly Oubre Jr. all being starters for their respective teams.
Their back court would be under sized and under experienced, De'Aaron Fox is just a rookie and DJ Augustine has never really played big minutes in his career and has always been a backup.
7 Indiana Pacers
Indiana has an interesting combination of players that might have some trouble fitting on the court together, but they are all solid players in their own right. Jeff Teague and Mike Conley are both solid point guards, but they are essentially the same player. Mason Plumlee and Zach Randolph do a lot of the same things on the court as well, so that is why this team would be so awkward fitting together. Gordon Heyward can play well with almost any group of players around him and would be this teams best all around player. Indiana would love to have a homegrown franchise cornerstone like Heyward, but unfortunately for them this is just a imaginative scenario. This team would not be much better than the current roster in Indiana, and the team they have now is younger so they might be better off.
6 Charlotte Hornets
This Charlotte team would have a three-headed monster at point guard with Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, and John Wall and they might be the most fun team to watch because of it. They would be able to go up and down the court at will on teams with the speed of those three.
Chris Paul and Steph Curry would light up any team from beyond the arc.
Hassan Whiteside would be the perfect big for this team because he would provide rebounding and much needed rim protection. John Henson is the guy who does not belong when looking at this group of players because he is not even a starter level player while the rest are All-Star level. This team could compete for a championship in this fantasy league, but they would probably struggle on defense and there is no way they could match up with the next team that is on the list.
5 Dallas Mavericks
Dallas has been struggling to get wins ever since their miraculous Championship run in 2011 when they upset the Miami Heat. Right now they would take all the help they can get, so this team would be an improvement on what they have right now. The centrepiece of this squad is for sure LaMarcus Aldridge who currently plays in Texas with the Spurs, but his true home town team is the Dallas Mavericks. Myles Turner is one of the best young centres in the game and would be the perfect big man for LaMarcus Aldridge to play alongside. They would struggle to get scoring from their guards because at this point Deron Williams is a shell of himself and Marcus Smart is more of a defensive stopper than a scorer.
4 New York Knicks
This combination of guys could definitely compete for a championship, Kemba Walker and Carmelo Anthony both carried their teams to Championships in college and Danny Green is an NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs. Kenneth Faried and Andre Drummond are both athletic freaks and would provide tons of rebounding and rim rattling dunks. They also have plenty of scoring and shooting with Walker, Anthony, and Green all being able to put the ball in the basket consistently. They could struggle on the defensive end of the court with Walker and Anthony being somewhat weak in that area of their game. The Knicks could have had a roster like this if Phil Jackson was smart enough to put some talent around Carmelo Anthony. Now all the Knicks have is Porzingis and he is done for the season, so Knicks fans would love to switch what they have for this team.
3 Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James has proven that he can win with just about any team you put around him during his dominant NBA career. He is playing the best basketball of his career right now so even if C.J. McCollum was his second best option on his team then he still might go to the finals. McCollum is a great scorer, but Trey Burke and Jared Sullinger are definitely not starter caliber players. Larry Nance Jr. just got traded to the Cleveland this week so we will actually get a chance to see him play alongside King James in a Cavs uniform. There is guaranteed to be some lobs thrown between James and Nance Jr. and it should be fun for the fans in Cleveland to watch. The only reason they are this high on the list is because LeBron is the son of Cleveland and he is still the best player in the game.
2 Chicago Bulls
This team could be a serious danger if Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade were still in their primes, but right now they are not close to the players that they used to be. They both played for their hometown at some point in their careers. Rose had more success being youngest MVP ever and Wade played one year with the team last season. Anthony Davis would be the clear star of this team and he might be enough for this team to make it to the Finals. Jabari Parker has been injury prone in his short career but when healthy he has played well. They would have an interesting young nucleus with Davis, Okafor, and Parker to go along with two Chicago legends in Rose and Wade. This team would for sure top any team that has been in Chicago since Michael Jordan last played there.
1 Los Angeles Lakers
In this format the Los Angeles Lakers would far and away be the best team in the league. Their dominance would rival that of the past Laker teams that would seem to go to the NBA Finals every season. Now that the Lakers have been in shambles the past few seasons Laker fans can only dream to have this type of talent on their roster. Russell Westbrook reunited with James Harden combined with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Love, and Klay Thompson off the bench looks more like team USA than an actual NBA team. This team would make the NBA way too lopsided, kind of like it currently is right now. There is no way this could be real team in capped league because there would not be enough money to go around, but if it was it might be the best team of all time. Los Angeles has so many good players there are some we had to leave off, but they are the only ones on the list who get a sixth man because of their depth.
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