Kevin Durant recently announced his departure from Oklahoma City to help bring Golden State the title that slipped away. If he could instead reunite with the other Texas Longhorns in the NBA, they could challenge UCLA and Kentucky alums for a title.
Duke ranks second to Kentucky in the total number of players in the NBA or D-League players in this week’s NBA Summer League games, but the big three schools would dominate if the 36 schools who produce 47.3 percent of these players each put their alums on the court to play each other.
Breitbart Sports analysis shows any youngster hoping to end up in the NBA should go through one of the 36 schools that have produced 345 of the 728 NBA/D-League Players. The other 315 Division 1 schools and all the foreign countries together produce the other 52.7 percent. But a league of the 36 schools would be missing LeBron James (straight from high school) or Stephen Curry (Davidson’s only since Brandon Williams was on the court for a few minutes in 2003).
Based on the estimated wins created by players as calculated by ESPN’s Estimated Wins Added formula and Value Add Basketball Rankings of incoming players (see details in post here), we produce the values of each player by school and list the 345 NBA or D-League Players and team totals of the 36 colleges here.
In an incredible stroke of luck, not only do 36 teams boast enough current players to put a starting five on the court, but those 36 bracket nicely into six divisions similar to the NBA’s actual divisional footprint.
Eastern Conference (NBA Alums)
|East – Central||W-L||GB|
Marquette’s Jimmy Butler (worth 13.3 extra wins) and Dwyane Wade (11.1) both edge out Michigan State’s Draymond Green (10.9) as top players in this hypothetical division of schools whose NBA alums would make up the “Eastern Conference, Central Division.” Marquette’s addition of Jae Crowder (6.1) gives them a trio that ranks overall slightly ahead of Michigan State’s balanced alums (Denzel Valentine, Zach Randolph).
Ohio State’s Mike Conley and Indiana’s Victor Olidipo rank in a distant tie for fourth behind the big three, but it looks like it would come down to Marquette and Michigan State for the alumni division title that is really owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Marquette duo actually reunites playing in the Atlantic Division as Wade joined the Chicago Bulls to team with Butler.
|East – Atlantic||W-L||GB|
UConn’s dynamic inside-outside duo of Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond (both 14.2) would make them a heavy favorite in this Atlantic Division. Villanova’s Kyle Lowry actually is in the Atlantic Division as the Toronto Raptors star ranks slightly ahead of the UConn duo with a 15.9, but overall the defending national champs would project to finish 21 games behind UConn at 38-44. Syracuse (Carmelo Anthony 12.4, also really in the division with the Knicks, joins Michael Gbinije 6.9) would be slightly favored to hold off Georgetown (Greg Monroe 13.0) and Nova for second.
|East – Southeast||W-L||GB|
Even injured for much of the season, Kyrie Irving played as the most valuable Duke alum (7.4) as the school produces a ton of players but in 2016 put on the NBA courts no other stars. Still, they have so many players that they project winning a tough division. However, by far the best player in the entire Eastern Conference is Wake Forest’s Chris Paul (18.4).
The current UNC Alumni group lacks huge stars, and their projected 48-34 record is the same as the three teams (Heat, Hawks and Hornets) that finished tied for first in the actual Southeastern Division. However, their rivals from Duke would be the solid favorite in a tight Division.
As in the actual NBA, the bigger talent is stored in the Western Conference, and not surprisingly UCLA and Kentucky are unbelievably loaded — but Texas would have a shot with Kevin Durant.
|West – Pacific||W-L||GB|
UCLA’s Russell Westbrook (22.8) coming down the court and kicking out to Kevin Love (9.1) and Jrue Holiday (8.0) is tough enough, but when you add Darren Collison (5.4) and Shabazz Muhammad (4.0), we have to cut Zach LaVine (3.8 converts to 1.9 as reserve) and Trevor Ariza’s value (3.6 cuts to 1.8) in half because they couldn’t even start for this loaded team. Yes, 74-8 is one game better than the Golden State’s record to win the actual Pacific this year – though admittedly they probably don’t quite measure up to that even in this “watered down” NBA with only half the actual players on an alumni team.
USC would be where their program has been for much of history, boasting incredible talent (DeMar DeRozen 15.5 and Nikola Vucevic 10.7) but stuck in UCLA’s Division. Stanford fans would love to have the twin towers of Brook and Robin Lopez (13.7 and an injury shortened 7.8) back together, and at the other end of the height spectrum little Isaiah Thomas (13.9) from Washington has been a surprising star for the Celtics after being a 60th pick.
|West – Southwest||W-L||GB|
OK, if the UCLA alums would break the NBA win record, Kentucky would obliterate it. Their 32 players numbers eight more than second place Duke, and their alums include big stars. In fact, they have the best five players in this division. The front line of Karl-Anthony Towns (15.7), DeMarcus Cousins (14.6) and Anthony Davis (14.6 and potentially will rise to MVP) would absolutely destroy most of the NBA alumni teams. As for getting the ball up the court and to them, try John Wall (12.2) and Rajon Rondo (7.5), with Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray coming of the bench to beat most other starting guards.
Kentucky would project to win this division by 44 games, much more than even the incredible 25-game cushion San Antonio enjoyed in winning the actual Southwest Division. Sorry, Louisville, this division would be as lopsided as Kentucky sometimes finds the SEC, so the intrastate rivalry would be tough.
|West – Western||W-L||GB|
Oklahoma City won the “Northwestern” Division, but really we can’t call Oklahoma State and these other five teams a “Northwestern Division,” so we will change the name of this one NBA Division to the hypothetical “Western” Division.
While the alumni league title would likely come down to the other two Western Division Champs — Kentucky and UCLA — Kevin Durant (22.8 to tie Westbrook for League MVP) would lead an incredible trio of Texas Longhorns that could challenge for the Western Conference and NBA Titles.
And while the Kansas and Arizona faithful will likely not accept finishing 26 and 29 games behind this Texas squad, respectively, the Longhorns actually have the second best player in this division in LaMarcus Aldridge (12.3) and fourth best in NBA Finals star Tristan Thompson (6.0). Kansas alum Andrew Wiggins (8.6) is the only non-Longhorns player in the top four in this division. One would think Shaka Smart can keep the incredible talent run and get the Longhorns to only their fourth Final Four in history (1943, 1947, and 2003).
Keep in mind this is not the actual record these alumni teams would have if they played against the actual NBA teams. Since half of the players do come from the other 315 colleges and foreign countries, they would project to achieve these records against fellow alumni teams including a combination of NBA players and D-League players, and in most cases some lower-level players needed to fill the rest of the roster. So, these are the projected records against a “watered down” NBA — and yes Kentucky would blow most of these other teams out most nights except for an occasional challenge at UCLA or at Texas.
Based on these projections, the NBA alumni playoffs would look like this:
No. 8 Georgia Tech at No. 1 Duke
No. 7 UNC at No. 2 UConn
No. 6 Florida at No. 3 Marquette
No. 5 Michigan State at No. 4 Wake Forest
The Western Conference Playoffs would set up as:
NO. 8 Arizona at overall No. 1 Kentucky
No. 7 Kansas at No. 2 UCLA
No. 6 Washington at No. 3 Texas
No. 5 Stanford at No. 4 USC