We’ve released half of our 2015 Franchise Player Draft here at Today’s Fastbreak, and now it’s time for picks 16-20. Here are the explanations for picks 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15, and here are the picks thus far: Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, Andre Drummond, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Rudy Gobert.
As always, a reminder that this is not just a player ranking. This is who you’d rather start a franchise with right now.
16. John Wall by Jesus Gomez
John Wall is on the verge of true greatness. He’s already a star, but he hasn’t been able to showcase the full extent of his talent yet. Last season he took yet another step forward as a playmaker, dishing out passes that only a handful other players can make. His shooting, however, regressed, as his percentages from beyond the arc and at the rim dipped. Defensively he was a monster, but he wasn’t as decisive as he could’ve been in the clutch on either side of the ball.
Not being able to put it all together could be considered a red flag for a franchise player. It would be for Wall if not for the fact that he’s just 25 years old and entering his prime. He’s not only an elite performer already, but he’s also still improving. He’ll likely lead the league in assists next season after finishing second last year. His pull-up jump shot will only get more consistent. The defense isn’t going anywhere. All the ingredients are there for him to become a top 10 player next season.
Because this era has featured so many great players at his position, Wall has been underrated so far into his short career. When he takes the next step, he’ll shatter those perceptions. Very soon, his name will appear high on the list of great contemporary point guards, where it belongs.
Follow Jesus on Twitter @JejeGomez_PtR
17. Paul George by Kris Willis
I was pretty happy to see Paul George still available at No. 17. I also considered Marc Gasol, Kevin Love and Al Horford, but settled on George due to his considerable upside and his age. He should be fully recovered from last season’s leg injury and will have the opportunity to excel as a small-ball power forward.
A franchise player needs to be someone who does everything well and that you can build around. George is an excellent player at both ends of the floor and has the versatility to play multiple positions. Those skills I just simply couldn’t pass on.
Follow Kris on Twitter @Kris_Willis
18. Jimmy Butler by Jared Johnson
Coming into last season, 25-year-old (at the time) Jimmy Butler looked poised to be a career defensive stopper who could get to the line at a good rate and be a solid No. 3 or 4 offensive option. He was approaching his ceiling, and that was OK.
But all of a sudden, he averaged 21.9 points on just 13.9 field goal attempts per game in November 2014. It was just a fluke, right?
He won the Eastern Conference Player of the Month award the next month and finished the season with an average of 20.0 points per game, making the All-Star Game, winning the Most Improved Player of the Year Award, making the All-Defensive Second Team and seizing the unofficial title of the Chicago Bulls’ most valuable player.
Want more? The 11.2 win shares Butler accumulated in the 2014-15 season led the entire Eastern Conference, despite the fact that he sat out 17 games due to injury.
Butler, who just turned 26, is the total package as a franchise player: not only is he a big-time scorer who does so very efficiently, he sets the tone defensively with relentless effort on that end. Plus, he’s just got this insatiable desire to prove doubters wrong that I love to see in team leaders.
Rest assured, the best of Jimmy Buckets is yet to come.
Follow Jared on Twitter @jaredtjohnson21
19. Chris Paul by Jacob Bikshorn
When I saw that I was slotted at No. 19 in this draft, I was concerned about the type of players who would be available. I assumed I would have to reach for a young and unproven player, or build around a player who only excelled on one side of the ball. Thankfully, many of my peers valued youth with their selections, and the 30-year-old Chris Paul fell perfectly into my lap.
Paul encapsulates everything I was looking for to start my theoretical franchise. Paul is the Peyton Manning of the NBA, running his offense with extreme precision. His ability to pick a defense apart with his incredible basketball IQ makes him a cornerstone player, even in the twilight of his prime. He’s constantly putting his teammates in the best positions to succeed, feeding them at the spots they love at the most opportune times. The ability to make your teammates better is paramount to building a championship contender.
Aside from running the offense, Paul is also a gifted scorer. Last season, CP3 shot 48.5/39.8/90, incredible percentages considering the bulk load he had to carry. While he doesn’t get to the rim at the same rate that he used to, his improved mid-range shooting has made up for his slight loss of quickness.
I understand why 18 people ahead of me passed on the best point guard of this generation. Any player with an age starting with a three is frightening, especially when constructing a theoretical team that’ll exist for imaginary years to come. But Paul is one of the rare exceptions where his age wasn’t enough of a deterrent, especially at pick 19. Paul’s competitive nature and attention to detail will hopefully rub off on the younger members of this hypothetical squad. Hopefully, when CP3’s raw abilities begin to erode, the basketball IQ will have rubbed off onto some of his younger cohorts.
And even if they don’t, I’ll know that for the next two or three years at least, my team will be among the league’s elite, a status that’ll attract talented free agents to the organization and fans to the stadium.
Follow Jacob on Twitter @OldManBikshorn
20. Draymond Green by Thomas Kenyon
So I was really hoping Chris Paul would fall to me and I’d go all in on a short-term window. Instead, I’ll have to play the long haul to the championship building around Draymond Green.
Let me be the millionth person to remind you that Golden State’s defense was just as good, if not better, than their offense last season. Per Basketball-Reference, they had the league’s top defensive rating, and Green was a big part of that success. Green had the league’s second-highest defensive win share total with 5.2, just behind DeAndre Jordan’s total of 5.4. With the direction the league has been moving, Green will be the anchor of a defense that’ll be well-suited to adapt to the multiple lineups of the NBA.
Green is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife on defense, covering every position and rarely being exploited on mismatches. That kind of flexibility will give me a lot of leeway moving forward in constructing this roster, and hopefully cover for the mistakes I’ll inevitably make. The Warriors were on to something last season, and if I have a chance to imitate any aspects of their success, I’m going to take it.
Follow Thomas on Twitter @THE_tomkenyon