Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five players who I feel could and arguably should be appearing on multiple All-Time teams in NBA 2K.
Despite a couple of omissions, the All-Time squads were a very welcome addition in NBA 2K18. I’m hoping that those teams will remain in the game moving forward, as they provide an opportunity to play with a variety of retro players who don’t have their own historical squads. I also hope that players such as Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, and Reggie Miller can be included at some point. Their omission has led to the inclusion of some less than ideal players on the All-Time teams, including a few active players who are certainly good, but lack the same historical significance.
It’s not just the absence of a few big names that makes some of the active players on the All-Time teams stick out like a sore thumb, however. There are historical players already in the game that could feasibly appear on a couple of other All-Time squads, replacing active players who aren’t stars of the same magnitude. While it could be argued that they didn’t have as big of an impact with those teams, or that their stints were too short, some All-Time teams do include players who had a very short tenure with them. With that in mind, here are five players who are not currently on multiple All-Time teams, but I believe could and should be.
1. Michael Jordan (All-Time Wizards)
As I mentioned when I advocated for including one of Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards teams as a retro squad, I know we’re not supposed to mention that footnote to MJ’s career. I know it’s become the done thing to gloss over it, and only mention his tenure with the Chicago Bulls, where he established himself as the greatest player to ever play the game. However, the fact of the matter is that Michael Jordan did play two seasons for the Washington Wizards. Even after three years away from the game and at age 40, he had his moments, too. He’s the oldest player to score at least 50 points in a game, and owns the record for most points scored by a player in their 40s.
Beyond that, he’s obviously one of the biggest names to ever suit up for the franchise. Even though it was only for two years, and the Wizards missed the postseason in both of those campaigns, it was still a big deal when MJ made his second (and hopefully, final) comeback with them. I would definitely include him on the Wizards’ All-Time squad over Marcin Gortat, who is obviously an important player for them now, but is nowhere near as historically significant. If Dennis Rodman’s two year stint with the San Antonio Spurs can land him on their All-Time roster, then His Airness should be playable alongside the other noteworthy Wizards and Bullets from yesteryear.
2. Scottie Pippen (All-Time Trail Blazers & Rockets)
Speaking of tenures that I’d rather not focus on but cannot deny happened, Scottie Pippen also suited up for teams that weren’t the Chicago Bulls. After the Bulls won their sixth title in 1998, and following the end of the lockout of 1999, Pip was traded to the Houston Rockets, where he formed a new big three with Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Sir Charles is obviously absent from NBA 2K, but that doesn’t mean that Pip shouldn’t join The Dream on the All-Time Rockets team. Granted, it was only for a year, and not his best one, but he still put up decent numbers, actually averaging his career high in minutes per game. He could easily replace Patrick Beverley.
Pippen admittedly has a stronger case to be included as a member of the Trail Blazers’ All-Time squad. He played four seasons in Portland, providing them with a steady veteran presence and playing a big role on the 2000 team that were a quarter away from advancing to the NBA Finals. Indeed, that team was deemed significant enough to include as one of the historical squads, and given Pip’s prominence in their lineup, as well as his three additional years of service, I think he should be included. I would put him on the team ahead of either Nicolas Batum or Wesley Matthews; fine players, but they’re not on the same level as Pip, and were on less successful Blazers teams.
3. Stephon Marbury (All-Time Suns, Knicks, & Nets)
Starbury appears on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ All-Time roster, which certainly makes sense. At one point, he and Kevin Garnett were pegged as being the next big duo in the NBA, and the future of the Timberwolves. While KG currently stands as the best player in franchise history, his pairing with Stephon Marbury ended after just two and a half seasons, which is a rather significant point to consider. While his time in Minnesota included the team’s first two postseason appearances and respectable stats on his part, Marbury’s best years came elsewhere. He definitely should remain on the All-Time Timberwolves, but he belongs on at least a couple of other squads, too.
The Nets – then of New Jersey, now of Brooklyn – are an obvious choice. He spent the following two and a half years there, making his first All-Star team in 2001. After he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, he continued to pour in at least 20 points and eight assists per game, making another All-Star appearance in 2003. His time with the New York Knicks is marred by controversy, but he had at least a couple of good seasons there as well. It might be overkill to add him to all three of those All-Time squads, but he could feasibly replace Goran Dragic on the Suns, Devin Harris on the Nets, and either Dick Barnett or the still-active Kristaps Porzingas on the Knicks.
4. Shawn Kemp (All-Time Cavaliers)
Although he’s best remembered for his days with the Seattle SuperSonics, catching all those lobs from Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp’s tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers was quite respectable. Problems with his weight and substance abuse were starting to take their toll and derail his career, but his production as the star of the Cavs remained steady during his three years there. In fact, he even registered his highest points per game average in the 1999 season, and had been an All-Star the year prior, his first and only appearance for the Eastern contingent. On the downside, he was only able to carry a young Cavs team to the postseason once, in his first year with the team.
Kemp can certainly be left off the All-Time Blazers and Magic squads, as his final years in the league were a drastic fall from grace. His name recognition and decent run in Cleveland – at least as far as his own numbers are concerned – makes him a viable candidate for the Cavs’ All-Time team. I would suggest that he’d be more fun to play with than Anderson Varejao, though Varejao admittedly had a much longer tenure with the team, and was a part of their first ever NBA Finals appearance in 2007. Of course, if the aim is to include the best players and biggest names in the history of each franchise, then we have to take The Reignman over Sideshow Bob.
5. Sam Cassell (All-Time Rockets, Bucks, & Clippers)
Cassell made his first and only All-Star appearance as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004, a season in which he had one of his best years statistically, and helped the team reach the Western Conference Finals. As such, he’s included as a member of the All-Time Timberwolves. There are a couple of other teams he could appear on of course, beginning with the Rockets. While not his best seasons from an individual standpoint, he was a key bench player in Houston’s back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995. Given the circumstances, I feel it wouldn’t be inappropriate if he replaced Patrick Beverley on the All-Time Rockets squad.
After he was included in the deal with Phoenix that brought Charles Barkley to the Rockets, Cassell bounced around a little before finally settling in Milwaukee. He helped the team break a seven year Playoff drought, and posted some of his best numbers, including his career high in assists per game. With that in mind, he could probably replace Brandon Jennings on the Bucks’ All-Time roster. He arguably has a claim to a spot with the All-Time Clippers as well, spending a couple of years there and helping them to a rare postseason appearance in 2006. Should he be placed on their roster, I’d nominate Eric Bledsoe as the player to cut to make room for him.
Nomadic after being traded from the Atlanta Hawks, Dominique Wilkins could replace Eric Bledsoe on the Clippers, Nikola Vucevic on the Magic, or Danny Green on the Spurs. Alternatively, Vucevic could be replaced by Patrick Ewing. Hakeem Olajuwon could be added to the Raptors over Amir Johnson, while Bobby Jackson might be preferable to Tyreke Evans on the Kings. Danny Manning, already with the Clippers, could also replace Goran Dragic on the Suns. For longevity if nothing else, Tree Rollins arguably belongs on the Hawks rather than Jeff Teague. As an original Hornet, Rex Chapman could be added to Charlotte ahead of Raymond Felton.
Who are some of the players that you’d most like to see appear on additional All-Time teams in NBA 2K? For players who had noteworthy stints with multiple teams, how many teams should they appear on, and how would you decide which ones? Let me know in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.