As the NBA is starting to hit its stride midway through the season, we have teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Brooklyn Nets looking like the lead contenders to come out of the Eastern Conference. The bottom of the playoff standings features some .500 teams that are hoping to qualify for the postseason and challenge one of these three teams.
There are quite a few teams that are contending for those final spots. From seeds 8-13, it could be anybody's game right now. However, there seem to be five clear teams that are just flat out not good enough. Those include the Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Each team has a piece but that's the problem. It's just one piece. What if these five teams disbanded and formed one team? Would the best player on each team form a formidable lineup that contends for an NBA championship? Let's take a look.
Guard - Collin Sexton (Cavaliers)
The Cavaliers point guard is having the best year of his career in his third season from a points and assists standpoint. He is averaging close to 23 points and four assists each night, while his three-point shooting percentage is over 40%, including 5% higher from last season. Sexton is shooting close to 50% from the field and is the entire offense since Kevin Love has been out for an extended period of time.
Sexton is the closest resemblance to Kyrie Irving from a scoring aspect, while he does not possess the handles like Irving. However, Sexton provides reliable scoring and would have a veteran squad that could put points in the basket. Given the talent on Cleveland, it's hard to rack up assists when your teammates aren't scoring.
Guard - Zach LaVine (Bulls)
Speaking of putting the ball in the hoop, LaVine is doing just that this season. LaVine is averaging a career-high in points for the Bulls, which ranks in the top-5 of the league. Not to mention, his rebounds and assists are both over five per game. If Sexton needed help at the point, LaVine is skilled enough to handle the ball.
LaVine provides a perfect combination of someone that can drive to the hoop or shoot from beyond the arc. For the first time in his career, he is shooting above 40% from the three-point range. Having this type of player would really stretch the floor and would get the post players more looks.
Guard - Bradley Beal (Wizards)
Beal is primarily a shooting guard, but with this lineup, we could go smaller and run a three-guard combo that could really run the offense up. Beal is leading the league in points while shooting 47% from the field. Beal and LaVine would have a "Splash Bros" feel to it given their ability to shoot from deep. On any given night, both players could combine for 60 points.
The idea of having two strong shooters on the floor would give Sexton some relief. He wouldn't have to create as much and could facilitate more. Beal plays better when he doesn't have to create his own shot. While Sexton and LaVine are no Russell Westbrook, both would be able to draw defenders to leave Beal open.
Forward - Blake Griffin (Pistons)
Griffin is having the worst year of his career statistically but the Pistons are the worst team in the NBA. Griffin needs a change of scenery. Playing with two All-Stars in LaVine and Beal would hopefully revert Griffin to his All-Star form like when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers. Griffin could provide athleticism and anchor the defense. His high-flying dunks would return given that three different guards have the passing abilities to set him up.
When looking at his current stat sheet, one may want Griffin on this team but he is just 31 years old. He has a couple of seasons left in the tank. Griffin would need to take a pay cut from his $40 million salaries though.
Center - Nikola Vucevic (Magic)
Talk about another player who is having his career wasted. The idea of building around Vucevic is not working for Orlando. Even when it did work, the Magic were a first-round exit. It's been a long time since we saw the Magic leading the Eastern Conference. A lot of that has to do with the injuries to Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz and the pieces around. Vucevic is having currently having one of the best seasons of his career.
The 7-footer is averaging the most points in his career and is averaging double-digit rebounds for the fourth time in the last five seasons. Griffin once played with a strong center in Andre Drummond but had not true shooters around them. The Pistons were nothing more than a first-round playoff exit. With these shooters, Vucevic wouldn't have to worry about scoring and could use his passing gifts to set up wide-open shots. Defensively, Vucevic and Griffin would be close to the twin towers.
Would this lineup be enough to dethrone the Jazz, Lakers, or Clippers? Beal and LaVine could keep the team in the game offensively on their own. Having a healthy Griffin would change the dynamic completely, while Vucevic can go toe-to-toe with both Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. It would all come down to this question. Can the core crack a team that plays strong defense? Both the Lakers and Jazz possess a top-5 defense in the league. Having two of the top-5 scorers in the league would give them a run for their money. It would be close, so yes this team could compete for an NBA title.