New Orleans Hornets
Some of these might be controversial, but, in the end, they are the ones that made the most sense. Some others I considered were New Jersey and Cleveland, but the backlash of "The Decision" would be too much combined with contracting Cleveland. As for Brooklyn, the super-rich owner mixed with moving to a bigger market make it hard to validate contraction.
For these six teams, none of been consistently a top team and most of them are bottom dwellers as of right now. In fact, the current record of these teams is 11-26. Those are not contenders. And while you can name a certain stretch where each team was good, it's the fact you can name the one time they were good that puts them on this list. If they were consistently good and had a solid enough fan base, they wouldn't be here.
With that being said, another idea came to mind: where would the players of the contracted teams go? If I had to guess, I would think the NBA would hold a draft to pick these players. The best way to figure out the draft order, honestly, would be to pick the teams at random. If you could think of a more fair way, tell me. It doesn't seem right to start with the worst teams and move up because you just got rid of a bunch of scrubs from bad teams. Didn't seem to help then.
Therefore, with the help of a random list generator and a random 3rd party pasting it, the draft order is as follows...
1. Houston Rockets
2. Philadelphia Sixers
3. Golden State Warriors
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Miami Heat
6. LA Lakers
7. Atlanta Hawks
8. San Antonio Spurs
9. LA Clippers
10. Oklahoma City Thunder
11. Memphis Grizzlies
12. Phoenix Suns
13. Boston Celtics
14. New York Knicks
15. Dallas Mavericks
16. New Jersey Nets
17. Portland Trail Blazers
18. Indiana Pacers
19. Utah Jazz
20. Detroit Pistons
21. Milwaukee Bucks
22. Cleveland Cavaliers
23. Orlando Magic
24. Denver Nuggets
We'll use the teams current rosters as of ESPN, and make it a one-round draft. The NBA rosters would be expanded and the salary cap increased.
With everything being explained, let's move right to it.
1. Houston Rockets select Kevin Love, F/C
While John Wall might be the best player available, I think the Rockets would go with Kevin Love. Pairing him with Scola on the front line would give them something resembling the frontline they hoped for when they traded for Pau Gasol. Right now, Love is averaging 25 points and 15 rebounds, 6 of those being offensive. In reality, he's probably the best current player while Wall and maybe Eric Gordon have the highest ceiling.
On top of that, they do have Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic, a more than solid duo.
2. Philadelphia 76ers select Eric Gordon, G
The 76ers just traded away one big man, so they wouldn't take Cousins. They have two very good, young PGs in Jrue Holliday and Lou Williams, so I couldn't see them adding to the log jam and taking John Wall. Instead, they'll add a dynamic scorer, something they lack right now, to pair with Andre Iguodala on the wing. Eric Gordon is one of the most underrated scorers in the league, offering 21 points on this young season and 22.3 points last year with the Clippers. On a team where he'd be the #1 option, he could put up big numbers.
3. Golden State Warriors select DeMarcus Cousins, C
The Warriors also already have a log jam at PG with Steph Curry and Monta Ellis, so, again, taking Wall wouldn't make much sense. They can't forget out a way to make those two share, so adding a 3rd to the mix would be mass chaos.
Instead, they'd address the front court, where issues are abundant. David Lee turned out to be nothing like what they expected. He isn't the dominant front court guy it looked like he was in New York. However, if you took Boogie, you'd free him up a lot more. Right now, he's asked to do a lot more than what he's comfortable with. Boogie is comfortable with being the dominant big man and could handle the dirty work. Adding Cousins to this team would be huge for Mark Jackson's squad.
4. Chicago Bulls select Andrea Bargnani, F/C
Again, obviously, they won't take Wall here. The Bulls have some young kid who they claim is better or something.
Instead, they look to replace what they haven't gotten from Carlos Boozer. For years, it seemed like Bargnani would be a bust, the #1 pick overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. However, the last two years, he's looked like the player they thought he would be. Last year he put up 21.4 points a game and this year, he's up to 24 a game. Add in the 6 rebounds and 35% from the field he shoots and Bargnani looks like a #1 overall pick.
On this Bulls squad, drafting him immediately gives the team depth on the bench. They have a great scorer coming into the game and probably someone who'd play significant minutes, maybe even replacing Noah down the stretch in tight games.
5. Miami Heat select Javale McGee, C
Before you freak out and scream "HE'S NOT EVEN THE BEST PLAYER ON HIS TEAM", allow me to explain.
I think the Heat have something big in Norris Cole. He'll eventually take over the starting role on this team. What they don't have an answer at is the center position. While Udonis Haslem has done an admirable job, there's room for improvement. What they don't need is another driving player. What John Wall is best at is getting to the basket and finishing or dishing to open teammates, which sounds like two other players on that Heat squad.
What McGee brings to this team is a defensive presence down low to this team. Right now, he's averaging 12.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.83 blocks a game. That last number is the key and what would attract the Heat.
6. LA Lakers select John Wall, PG
Finally, we get to a squad that could really use a PG. I honestly tried to put bias aside in each pick and think "Why WOULD they draft John Wall?". The only team I could see doing it is Houston, and it's a very real possibility. However, if he gets past them, he's falling fast.
For the Lakers, this solves their biggest weakness. They get a player who can be the star of their future, can attract others to LA, and can make them a very legit contender. Wall may not be the best defensively, but at least he's more athletic than Fisher or Blake (obviously).
Really, I can't the Lakers going anywhere else with this pick. They could use a good SF, but there aren't any worth the #6 overall pick.
7. Atlanta Hawks select Tyreke Evans, G
The Hawks handicapped themselves to the max when they gave Joe Johnson that outrageously high deal. They get lucky with this draft, and by lucky, I mean INCREDIBLY lucky. They get Tyreke Evans, who can play the PG role and give this team another wing scorer they desperately need.
The only other way I could see them going is if they want to go for someone like DeMar Derozan, a scorer off the bench. But I can't see that because Evans is the same player, but a starter.
8. San Antonio Spurs select Ricky Rubio, PG
I searched and flip-flopped and couldn't decide who this pick would be. I would believe they'd try to build for post-Duncan with a young big, guy, but they wouldn't want the headaches of someone like Cousins. Bargnani or Love fit the bill, but neither would be here.
Instead, the brace themselves for post-Parker and take Rubio, a young stud PG who has really looked good to start the year. I myself was a bit pessimistic that he could hang in the league, but 9 points, 7 assists, and 1 steal in just 27 minutes of action a night. I don't know if he improved once the pressure was off overseas or if he embraced the NBA and worked hard, but since he's been here, he's looked like the stud people thought he was. With Rubio, Blair, and Neal, they have a solid core for the future.
9. LA Clippers select DeMar DeRozan, G
One of the few things this team doesn't have is a 2-guard. There aren't many shooting guards that are better pure scorers than DeRozan. As of right now, he's shooting 47% from the field, 62% from 3, and 84% from the line. He's exactly what the Clippers need, which is outside scoring and a perimeter shooter.
With him, I fear the Clippers a whole lot more. Right now, I wouldn't trust Chauncey Billups as far as I could throw him. He's shown already this year that he'll shoot you out of a game. And he's going to have a serious size mismatch against the better shooting guards like Kobe and Wade. DeRozan, however, is 6'7 and won't have the same mismatch. And bringing Billups off the bench creates that much more depth.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder select Carl Landry, F
The Thunder don't have many weaknesses outside of chemistry (namely Durant/Westbrook), but one of the biggest is offensive production from the blocks. Right now, their entire front line, starters and bench, are averaging 22.3 total points a game. Durant himself is averaging 26.1. That's totally unacceptable.
So they should be looking for a scoring big man. I could also see them looking at Rashard Lewis, but he's old and it's hard to consider him a full-time PF. Instead, they can go with a more consistent, more underrated, and younger, Carl Landry. Landry would bring some scoring this front line desperately needs to be considered a contender.
11. Memphis Grizzlies select Jose Calderon, PG
I would give the Griz a big man if they hadn't just landed Speights. Instead, I'll give them a veteran PG in Calderon.
Right now, injuries are ravaging this team. Conley and Randolph have both missed rather significant time because of injuries. While Conley has returned, their back-up is a rather inexperienced Josh Selby and even younger Jeremy Pargo. Bringing in Calderon, who is SUPREMELY underrated, gives them not only depth, but talent. In Toronto, he's averaging 10 assists a game. Imagine what he could with the talent in Memphis.
12. Phoenix Suns select Kemba Walker, PG
With the loss of Aaron Brooks, this team lost their future. Right now, they are full of past-their-prime players like Nash, Michael Redd, and Grant Hill. What they don't have is any sort of youth, outside of maybe Shannon Brown.
With Walker, you get a rookie who's shown a lot of promise. He's averaging 9.2 points and 3.2 assists in just 18 minutes of action a night. Give him starters minutes and he's close to 20 points a night. It gives you a couple young guys to work around with Walker and Frye and Lopez while also giving you an heir apparent to Steve Nash.
13. Boston Celtics select Michael Beasley, SF
This team lost a big producer when Jeff Green went down for the year. This team was already going to struggle, but with Green gone, their depth was shot. They also don't have many pieces for the future outside of Rondo.
Shockingly, Beasley is only 22 years old. It seems like he's been in the league for about five years. He's had some discipline issues, which is why putting him in a locker room with Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen would be great for him. He'd wise up real quick and develop into the player people think he is.
It also gives them a core for the future in Rondo, Beasley, and Green. Suddenly, they are moving in the right direction for the post-Big Three Era.
14. New York Knicks select Luke Ridnour, PG
This team's struggles have been headlined. Giving up the huge numbers they did to the Charlotte Bobcats is impressive in all the wrong ways. With Shumpert down, they don't have anyone to initiate the offense. They also don't have anything resembling defense. The Tyson Chandler acquisition was much overrated, like I thought.
Bringing in Ridnour would give them a solid perimeter defender and someone who can set the tone defensively. Really, he's quite the underrated defender. I'm not saying he's a lockdown defender, but he's better than anything the Knicks have (which also isn't saying much).
15. Dallas Mavericks select Derrick Williams, F
What the Mavericks lack is any sort of planning for the future. They don't have any young players and are simply planning to land someone big in free agency. 8 of their 14 players on their roster are 32 or older. They have young players, but none for the future.
With Williams, they get this year's #2 pick and someone who has a bright future. He's already averaging 7 points and over 4 rebounds a game in just 17.7 minutes a night. He could learn from Dirk, Kidd, Marion, and the veterans in that locker room, then take over the team in the future.
16. New Jersey Nets select Nick Young, G
This team needs some a scorer to take the load off Deron Williams. Adding Nick Young would also make Deron very happy.
Young is a very underrated scorer also. He's scoring just 14 points a game right now, but he's playing with some other solid players like Wall and Javale McGee. On a team like the Nets where he and Williams are the main scoring options, I could see him putting up nearly 20 points a game.
17. Portland Trail Blazers select Emeka Okafor, C
The Blazers are really not that bad of a team. In fact, as of right now, they are 1st in the West. Take that as you wish being just a couple weeks into the season, but nonetheless, they aren't a bad team.
That being said, any team could use another quality player. And ask the Lakers what size can do for you. I'm not saying Emeka Okafor is Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol, but a frontline of Marcus Camby, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Emeka Okafor would be second to none. If Oden would ever get healthy, it'd be one of the best front lines ever.
18. Indiana Pacers select Chris Kaman, C
The Pacers are a team that's made big strides this off-season. They upgraded their low post scoring, However, they could always use another big man. Jeff Foster is currently the back up center, which isn't awful. But when Chris Kaman is a possibility, you go for it.
Kaman has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but he's still averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds a game as a backup. If the Pacers could get those kinds of numbers from him, they'd be that much scarier of a team.
19. Utah Jazz select Marcus Thorton, G
This Jazz team is an incredibly young team. And by young, I mean they have 9 players under 30, with Enes Kanter (19), Derrick Favors (20), Gordon Hayward (21), and C.J. Miles (24) being the youngest.
What they lack, though, is a consistent scorer from the shooting guard spot. Thorton has started the year red-hot, scoring 20+ points in 5 of the first 8 games. And on top of that, he himself is just 24. This is exactly the type of player the Jazz would be looking for.
20. Detroit Pistons select LeAndro Barbosa, SG
This Pistons team is equally as young as the Jazz team. Only three players are older than 30 and six players are under 25. That's why I don't think they'd look for another young player to clog up minutes. Instead, they'd go for a veteran player to be looked upon as a leader and mentor.
The one spot they don't have a quality back-up in is shooting guard. After Ben Gordon, there's Damien Wilkins. He has potential, but he might not be ready yet. Instead, have Barbosa come in, who can still score and defend, and have him teach this team.
21. Milwaukee Bucks select Jimmer Fredette, G
Back in June, the Bucks drafted Jimmer, then pulled off a trade to get Stephen Jackson. While it wasn't a bad trade, I think they could use someone like Jimmer on this team.
First, he gives them a shooting guard to develop with Jennings. Jimmer has potential simply because he can shoot from miles away. But he also wouldn't be asked to do too much in Milwaukee, while boosting their attendance based on the fact that fans are hooked on Jimmer-mania. If he ever did develop into a star, he'd might actually make the Bucks relevant.
22. Cleveland Cavaliers select Gerald Henderson, SG
I really like the way the Cavs are moving, but they still have problems. Namely, they don't have a shooting guard. Right now, they have an ancient Anthony Parker and a true point guard as the back-up.
Out in Charlotte, Gerald Henderson is having a breakout season. Someone who was once considered a bust has become a dependable scorer for Charlotte. If you put him on the Cavs, they have a young team FULL of potential and a team I really like.
23. Orlando Magic select Andray Blatche, F
The Magic actually have a rather dependable starting 5 and a solid team. Right now, they are 3rd in the East and really don't have that many holes. Much like the other picks, size matters. At 6'11, Blatche could play down low with Howard and give this team a huge front line, especially with Ryan Anderson.
Blatche is averaging 12 and 7 a game right now and could even spend time as the back-up center. It might also encourage the Magic to move on and trade Howard knowing they have some young players to take over.
24. Denver Nuggets select Corey Maggette, SF
This is a really, really deep team. They have back-ups who could be and have been starters in the league. They only position that isn't stacked is the SF spot.
Corey Maggette brings this team some scoring off the bench and depth at the SF position. They could use a scorer off the bench who they could count on if the starters struggle. Really, it's the only pick I see making sense.
This was quite the interesting draft and something that took longer than I thought. Never the less, it was fun to see the possibilities.
There IS a possibility of a 2nd round. I'm not sure if the NBA would do it, but if it were, I think they would do it serpentine style and let Denver get the first pick. I'll predict the picks only for times sake.
25. Nuggets - Al-Farouq Aminu, SF
26. Magic - Rashard Lewis, SF
27. Cavs - Jordan Crawford, SG
28. Bucks - Ed Davis, PF
29. Pistons - Byron Mullens, C
30. Jazz - Marco Belinelli, SG
31. Pacers - Wesley Johnson, SG
32. Blazers - J.J. Hickson, PF
33. Nets - Trevor Ariza, SF
34. Mavs - Amir Johnson, PF
35. Knicks - James Johnson, SF
36. Celtics - Amir Johnson, PF
37. Suns - John Salmons, SG
38. Grizzlies - Boris Diaw, PF
39. Thunder - D.J. White, PF
40. Clippers - Chuck Hayes, C
41. Spurs - Byron Mullens, C
42. Hawks - Anthony Randolph, PF
43. Lakers - D.J. Augustin, PG
44. Heat - Darko Milicic, C
45. Bulls - Shelvin Mack, G
46. Warriors - Anthony Randolph, PF
47. 76ers - Chris Singleton, SF
48. Rockets - Bismack Biyombo, C