Last season, a group of Today’s Fastbreak contributors got together to conduct a Franchise Player Draft, which involved picking 30 NBA players based on who’d be best to start a franchise with. The Today’s Fastbreak Franchise Player Draft is returning for 2016, but this time, it’s expanding to an entire starting five of players and is in a snake draft format.
Again, these players are being selected based on both current play AND their long-term potential. Furthermore, current NBA contracts aren’t relevant for this exercise.
21. John Wall – Dale Redman
At pick 21, I never thought I would be able to grab Wall. A three-time All-star point guard who turned 26 just days ago, is a dream to build my franchise around. Coming off career highs of 19.9 points, 10.2 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game, the first overall pick of the 2010 draft is just now entering his prime. His leadership and playmaking ability will keep my offense viable no matter who I can put around him. Add in his quick hands on defense (top eight in steals the last two seasons), and Wall was a natural choice.
Follow Dale on Twitter @DTRedman
22. D’Angelo Russell – Trenton Jocz
Among the many surprises of this draft was that Draymond Green remained on the board for my first selection. However, for as much of a gamechanger as Green is right now, there are so many bigs still on the board, I think I can get Green or a younger franchise centerpiece like Rudy Gobert, Aaron Gordon, Myles Turner or Nikola Jokic in Round 2 (mild spoiler Alert: I did).
With that in mind, I took the youngest potential superstar guard on the board in D’Angelo Russell. In these exercises, I’m aiming for titles. That means I’m not interested in Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson or John Wall types, as good as they are. I want someone who gives me a shot at being a Finals contender if he’s my best player.
Can Russell be that guy? It remains to be seen, but he’s already a good three point shooter and had some moments despite playing for a coach who undermined him. With the no doubt franchise guys long off the board, taking a 20-year-old with a promising start and room to grow is the best path to raising a banner or two.
Follow Trenton on Twitter @TrentonJocz
23. Jimmy Butler – Nekias Duncan
To be completely honest, I was aiming for John Wall or Blake Griffin in this slot. By the time it got to my pick, Wall was off the board, and I somehow completely forgot that Griffin was still available. HOWEVER, grabbing Butler gives me one of the NBA’s best two-way wings. Butler still has a way to go as a leader, but he’s only 26 right now and is coming off of a year where he averaged 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.6 steals — numbers only matched by Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.
Follow Nekias on Twitter @NekiasNBA
24. DeMar DeRozan – Larry Fleisher
DeMar DeRozan is the perfect fit for my team as he can score in bunches, hit clutch shots and is in the prime of his career. Plus, my team wants players like Derozan committed to getting their franchise to the next level as he is with the Toronto Raptors.
Follow Larry on Twitter @larryfleisher
25. Devin Booker – Thomas Duffy
Devin Booker is 19.
He’s turning 20 on Oct. 30, meaning he has another entire year before he can legally drink. He’s just a handful of years removed from learning to drive. His baby-face is rivaled only by that of Stephen Curry. D-Book is a kid.
But the kid can score.The apex of his All-Rookie First Team campaign was a one-week stretch from March 3 to March 10. During that span, Booker averaged 28.4 points on 48.5-percent shooting to go along with five assists and three boards. He dropped 32-plus three times.
As a bonus, he seems like a good guy.
Follow Thomas on Twitter @TJDHoops
26. Draymond Green – Wes Goldberg
I was hoping to get a No. 1 scoring option in the first round, but I couldn’t pass up taking Draymond Green all the way down here with the 26th pick. At 26 years old, Green is just now entering the prime of his career. He’s going into season two of having a jump shot and coming off a campaign in which he was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year (and Kawhi Leonard went 20 picks earlier).
With the Warriors, Green showed out as the key to unlocking Golden State’s small-ball fun house. He is a hybrid 3-4-5 capable of playing point forward as well as protecting the rim. He won’t be my top option of offense, but he’ll make life a heck of a lot easier for whoever that ends up being.
Follow Wes on Twitter @wcgoldberg
27. Blake Griffin – Jason Hall
At this point, there wasn’t much left in the draft pool that I felt comfortable with using my first pick on. I know Blake Griffin is coming off an injury, but I felt he was the best player available at that spot. If we’re thinking bigger picture, Griffin is only 27 years old. There’s still room for growth, and he’s already more established than most others remaining. Plus, even with his small sample size, he managed to record 21.4 points per game — 0.1 shy of his career average — and 8.4 rebounds per game.
Follow Jason on Twitter @BullsZoneJason
28. Kyle Lowry – Troy Tauscher
By this point, some of the more attractive names I had my eye on were gone, so Lowry felt like a safe pick. That’s a fine way to describe him as a player: A safe pick. He may not be in the top handful of point guards, but he’s consistently a second tier star who brings a lot to the table. He finally cracked 20 points per game last year while keeping his shooting percentage on par with his career average. He’s also a good defender on the outside, an invaluable skill in the era of crazy athletic floor generals. Lowry finished seventh in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus last season, ahead of Kevin Durant, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins.
Follow Troy on Twitter @tt_sports
29. Rudy Gobert – Andy Bailey
Rudy Gobert may not provide much offensively, but as long as he’s on the floor, my team will have a defensive identity. He was fourth in the NBA in Defensive Box Plus-Minus (DBPM) last season. Among players with at least 1,000 career minutes, he’s fourth all-time in career DBPM. Want more numbers? The only player in 2015-16 with a better “Opponents FG% vs. Contest” on Nylon Calculus’s rim protection database is JaMychal Green, who faced backups and averaged fewer than 20 minutes last season. Utah’s defense was 3.1 points per 100 possessions better with Gobert on the floor.
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndrewDBailey
30. Hassan Whiteside – Tyriq Butler
After barely seeing time on the floor to begin his NBA career, Hassan Whiteside has risen to relevancy due to two productive seasons with the Heat. He’s one of the most exciting young players in the game, and his defensive prowess would provide a level of intimidation needed for my team to flourish on both ends. Last year, Whiteside led the NBA in blocks with 3.7 per game. He ranked 1st in John Hollinger’s estimated wins added among qualified centers (16.0) and 2nd in PER (27.77).
He has tremendous upside and has already tapped into some of that potential becoming an integral part of what the Heat do. With his rim protection and ability to play in pick and roll on both ends, Whiteside could develop into one of the best big men in the league, hence why Miami decided it wasn’t a robbery to ink him to a max deal.
Follow Tyriq on Twitter @TyDButler