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.
31. Mike Conley — Tyriq Butler
I’ve always liked Mike Conley and what he brought to the table as an unselfish player that does many good things on the court. In this league, you need a legitimate point guard and there’s no way you’re going to circumvent that if you have aspirations of being a contender. He’s had injury issues over the past few years, which does provide a reason to be concerned. Furthermore, he has regressed defensively. But when fully healthy, I’m confident Conley can still produce on both ends. He’s still one of the best in the league at his position.
Tyriq’s first-round pick: Hassan Whiteside
Follow Tyriq on Twitter @TyDButler
32. Jabari Parker — Andrew Bailey
I went all defense with my first pick, which left the door open for an all offense pick here. Jabari Parker is 21 years old and showed flashes of why he was a No. 2 overall pick after last season’s All-Star break. In that stretch, Parker averaged 18.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, while shooting 49.8 percent from the field. The blossoming star is the kind of talent you can build an offense around, and Gobert will cover for his current deficiencies (which are correctable) on the other end.
Andrew’s first-round pick: Rudy Gobert
Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewDBailey
33. DeAndre Jordan — Troy Tauscher
I need someone to run pick-and-roll with Lowry, so why not pick one of the best finishers in the league? I also could use a good interior defender to back up Lowry’s good perimeter defense, so why not pick one of the league’s fearsome shot-blockers? Jordan has gone from projected second-rounder to a fairly well-polished athletic center. He gobbles up rebounds and blocks, so he’s known more for his defense.
However, his ability to finish as the roll man opens up so many things for the team around him. While his range of skills is relatively limited, he thrives at playing to his strengths. With two solid starters who can contribute in their own way on both ends, this pair of picks one and two look like a solid foundation.
Troy’s first-round pick: Kyle Lowry
Follow Troy on Twitter @tt_sports
34. Kemba Walker — Jason Hall
Kemba Walker is coming off the best scoring average (20.9 PPG) of his career. He averaged 3.2 three-pointers made per game. He’s a scoring threat who, at 25, is only getting better with time. I predict a big season from him in 2016-17 and think he’s going to continue to be one of the league’s best scoring point guards.
Jason’s first-round pick: Blake Griffin
Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonHall1289
35. Brandon Ingram — Wes Goldberg
With Draymond Green on the squad already, I needed a No. 1 scoring option. It was between Ingram and C.J. McCollum, but I’m going with the second overall pick. This is a futures draft, and I like Ingram’s potential over McCollum’s. I’m also going for length, and Ingram has Durant-like tarantula-ness that I like. With Green and Ingram, I have the makings of a long team that can switch on defense and be a matchup nightmare on offense.
Wes’ first-round pick: Draymond Green
Follow Wes on Twitter @wcgoldberg
36. C.J. McCollum — Thomas Duffy
Coming off a standout sophomore year that earned him the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, the 24-year-old is only getting better from here. Pairing McCollum with Booker is definitely peculiar, but subscribing to “Uncle Drew’s” advice hasn’t steered me wrong yet: “This game has been, and will always be, about buckets.”
Thomas’ first-round pick: Devin Booker
Follow Thomas on Twitter @TJDhoops
37. Jeff Teague — Larry Fleisher
We needed a point guard to complement having DeRozan and we wanted someone similar to Kyle Lowry since he was unavailable. Teague penetrates the lane well, forcing defenses to collapse on him while creating open looks for others. Teague also is a good scorer who knows how to create and should thrive in most offensive systems.
Larry’s first-round pick: DeMar DeRozan
Follow Larry on Twitter @larryfleisher
38. Khris Middleton — Nekias Duncan
It was only fitting that I took the best player available here. Kidding. Kinda. Middleton is one of the most underrated players in the league — aside from the people that follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook because I won’t let them underrate him.
Middleton is a very good on-ball defender capable of guarding three positions. He can also shoot the lights out from deep and mid-range, and despite the notion that he can’t create his own shot, actually ranked eighth in the NBA in points per possession (0.96), tied for second in the NBA in field goal percentage (46.2) and third in the NBA in score frequency in isolation, via Synergy (minimum 100 FGAs). #PutSomeRespeckOnHisName
Nekias’ first-round pick: Jimmy Butler
Follow Nekias on Twitter @NekiasNBA
39. Aaron Gordon — Trenton Jocz
Just as I had hoped when I took D’Angelo Russell in Round 1, a few of the young bigs on the board remained available for my next pick. It was a very tough choice between Nikola Jokic, Myles Turner and Aaron Gordon, but I ultimately went with Gordon as he made strides in his second season and, as opposed to the rookies, that sophomore campaign also provides an extra year of data to go off of, despite Gordon being younger than Jokic. (Jokic may very build off of his fantastic rookie season, but the Pau Gasol experience in Chicago has scarred me in terms of potentially having to plan around a center with an athleticism deficit.)
By pairing Gordon with Russell, I have two 20-year-old’s with mega upside (Gordon could eventually be a center for Death Lineup East if Orlando’s other bigs move on) who also aren’t complete unknowns.
Trenton’s first-round pick: D’Angelo Russell
Follow Trenton on Twitter @TrentonJocz
40. Derrick Favors — Dale Redman
After securing our playmaker, John Wall, in the first-round, I was targeting exceptional two-way big men in round two. With Derrick Favors, we believe we got a young talent with his best years still ahead of him. At only age 25, the Jazz power forward has proven himself to be a force on the offensive end with 16.2 points per game and 52.1 percent field goal shooting the last two seasons. Showcasing his defensive prowess, last season Favors was also one of only seven players 25 or under to average at least 1.0 block and 1.0 steal per game. If he can stay healthy, Favors will be the perfect fit to anchor our frontcourt.
Dale’s first-round pick: John Wall
Follow Dale on Twitter @DTRedman