The most popular teams in the NBA could now be based in California and New York. After all, the number of talents playing in both cities has never been greater. California teams include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors.
In New York, the Knicks and the Nets will face each other in the Eastern Conference. With the announcement of LaMarcus Aldridge’s retirement from the NBA, New York will have to reshuffle their best team. Aldridge retires with 19.4 PPG and 8.2 RPG for his career and made 7 All-Star teams with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs.
In a 5-on-5 match between the best players from each city, here is an analysis of the match between the California team and the New York team.
Stephen Curry vs Kyrie Irving
This game is about getting baskets. Curry is the best shooter in NBA history and the man who changed the game as it is played today. Kyrie Irving is arguably the best ball handler in NBA history and a player born to take on great opponents. Both goalies will prove to be the best goalies of the last decade.
There is no clear advantage in this game, as both playmakers get their hands on the ball and give their teams key shots. The big difference will be that Curry will be exposed defensively, especially due to the size of James Harden on the offensive side in the pick-and-roll. Still, Curry will score more points than Irving in this game.
Paul George vs. James Harden
This game is still great, but Harden is unstoppable, even with the greatest defender of all time, Paul George. Harden is having another spectacular season, averaging 25.2 PPG and 10.9 APG for perhaps the most talented team in NBA history.
It’s clear that in the MVP race, Harden always has an edge in every game. But Paul George is not to be trifled with, averaging 23.0 PPG and 43.8% shots from long range. George will do his best to control Harden, but it probably won’t be enough because Harden is just too good.
Kawhi Leonard v Kevin Durant
This match is between the 2 best players and strikers. Durant is the perfect complement to Irving and Harden because he can play both on and off the ball. Durant’s ability to hit shots also comes in handy, as he forces Kawhi Leonard to defend him well throughout the game. Durant is too lethal from the perimeter, so Leonard will force KD to play the ball early in a game that ends in his favor. Durant is on a roll early and it looks like he will be caught early in the game.
But Leonard began to take over the game as the game progressed, forcing Durant into more passivity, especially when he got an assist. No one can stop Durant, but Leonard can guide him through traffic and use his powerful body to disrupt him. This game is a great matchup between two NBA champions, but Durant is just too good.
LeBron James vs Julius Randle
On paper, LeBron James has a big advantage. James is similar to Randle, but he’s faster, more athletic and has perhaps the highest IQ in basketball history. In summary, James is in his 18th season. NBA season with 25.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 7.9 APG.
But Julius Randle won’t let that happen. He has become a versatile player who can not only score from inside, but can also handle the ball and shoot from the outside edge. Randle has a yearly average of 23.0 PPG and 10.7 RPG, but there is only one winner in this game, and that is always King.
Anthony Davis vs DeAndre Jordan
The advantage clearly goes to the California team. Anthony Davis is the most talented big man in the game, even though his season was cut short midway through by injury. Davis is averaging 22.5 PPG and 8.4 RPG for the Lakers and is a major asset to a franchise that destroyed its competitors in the league last year.
DeAndre Jordan is still a good, capable defender, but he’s past his prime. Averaging 7.7 PPG and 7.3 RPG this season, he’s too slow and flat-footed to defend Anthony Davis on the outskirts. Aldridge will get help from Randle, but Davis has a big advantage.
Team California Bank: Dennis Schroeder, De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Andrew Wiggins, Montrezl Harrell, Draymond Green, Andre Drummond.
New York team bank: Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Joe Harris, RJ Barrett, Bruce Brown, Blake Griffin, Mitchell Robinson.
Both banks are incredibly talented and deep. The California team has the athleticism, speed and versatility to beat the New York team. On the other hand, New York has big men and shooters who can create space on the floor.
Ultimately, the bench players who will play the most are UCLA’s guards and New York’s scorers. Dennis Schroeder, De’Aaron Fox and Montrezl Harrell will occupy most of the minutes on the California bench, while Tyrese Haliburton and Andre Drummond will also contribute.
Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green will play important roles on the bench for a long time, as New York will be very active in the first and fourth quarters. Their defense will help slow down key scorers and allow the California team to breathe and sometimes find their rhythm.
New York’s lineup consists primarily of Joe Harris and Immanuel Quickley, who can score from deep, while RJ Barrett brings his vastly improved scoring ability to the team. Mitchell Robinson will play plenty of minutes to protect Anthony Davis.
The game starts early, bursts in mid-game, and later ends in a shootout. California took the lead at the end of the first quarter, with the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis scoring 10 and 8 points respectively. They are just too big and too talented early in the game.
Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving woke up in the second quarter and tied the game at halftime. The top scorers are Durant with 15 and Anthony Davis with 19. The reason New York got back into the game was because Randle and Robinson started playing together, which led to saves and allowed Brooklyn’s Big Three to make a run at the half.
The third quarter starts and ends very slowly. Team California, and LeBron James in particular, slowed the pace to keep Brooklyn’s Big Three from slipping away. Stephen Curry is also able to dominate the quarter by hitting 4 three-pointers. New York responded with Barrett and Harris, but California led 100-92 entering the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter, mass shooting. Curry and Irving clash early, while LeBron and Harden dominate the game. California cut the lead to 2 points with 8 points with 6 minutes to go, making it 120-118. The cold streak for both teams begins with 2 minutes until Durant’s bucket ties the game.
In the end, an enthusiastic play by the Brooklyn Big Three sealed the deal. With the score tied 130-130 and 45 seconds to go, Harden steals the ball and finds Irving on the court. But Durant’s cut is complete, with a foul on George. When Durant hit a free throw, Randle made up for a big mistake by Curry to get the game back on track.
Team New York vs. Team California 135-130
MVP: Kevin Durant (37 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists)
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