All Your Kevins Are Belong To Us

Photo by maybeemily on Flickr

Before we embark on this, let me preemptively state that this post is a work of soft farce, a thought experiment, a bit of fluff. I put this all together mostly with Slam’s Top 500 players and my own knowledge of the game from the last decade and a half. I have missed players and ignored them. I suggest you point this out in the comments. I am not an actual All-Anything Team judge—I just play one on the Internet. We good? Good.

Just what is in a name? With Kevin Love’s ascension into the rarified air of the MVP conversation and the undeniably historic slant of his numbers, the debate began this season with Kevin Garnett’s return to the Target Center over the possibility that Love was a better Kevin than Garnett. But what about Kevin McHale? He didn’t play for the Timberwolves, but he was certainly all up in there with both successes and failures. And why should we have to choose? With all these discussions going on about how to fix the draft lottery and people floating (presumably) tongue-in-cheek suggestions about returning to the territorial drafts that tied players to their home regions, why not just organize players by their first name into teams?

This creates some obvious problems, but also some semi-interesting complications. First of all, Team Hakeem and Team Dikembe are pretty lonely teams. Of course, so is Team Kobe, but that’s probably the way he wants it.

More common names work out better, but looking at current NBA players and some of the greats (and not-so-greats) of the past, it’s odd to see how some names clump around certain positions. Team Steve is rather guard heavy, fielding Steve Nash, Steve Francis, and Stephon Marbury at the point guard position and Stephen Curry and Steve Smith at the two. Stephen Jackson shores up the small forward spot, but there’s a real lack of Steves who played the four or five to any acclaim.

Team Michael is similarly screwed: they can boast Michael Jordan, Michael Cooper, and Michael Redd at shooting guard, settle for Mike Bibby or Mike Conley at the one, and Michael Finley can capably handle the small forward position. Expanding the spelling a bit, Micheal Ray Richardson can help at the guard positions. But at power forward and center? Michael Beasley (who’s a stretch at the four now), Michael Doleac, and Michael Olowokandi. But of course, Jordan won a championship with Bill Wennington, so maybe it’s not impossible.

And just forget about Team Bob. They get Bob Cousy but otherwise it’s almost all big men: Bob Lanier, Bob McAdoo, and Robert Parish. Maybe you plug in Bobby Jackson at the two and put Robert Horry out of position at the three and hope you can just out-rebound the other team.

And so it goes with Team Richard (four SFs including Ricky Barry and Rick Fox plus two PGs in Ricky Rubio and Richie Guerin) and Team Jason (Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jason Richardson, Jason Williams). Most names seem kind of weirdly imbalanced in distribution.

There are genuinely only two names that can field top to bottom decent teams and we have to make a pretty big allowance for the first, Team Mark. For the sake of argument (is there any other sake in this fantasy world?), I’m allowing a wide variation in name here, which gives us:

PG: Mark Price
SG: Marcus Thornton
SF: Mark Aguirre
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Marc Gasol
Bench: Mark Jackson, Marques Johnson, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Camby

Aldridge and Gasol form a potent frontcourt with Cousins and Camby providing great punch off the bench rotating into the four and five spots. Moreover, you’ve got Price’s and Aguirre’s shooting and Jackson and Johnson (who coined the term “point forward”) to get them the ball, plus Thornton is a fine piece to plug in for scoring. You could even go deep and throw in Marc Jackson and Marco Bellinelli to shore up the rotation.

But man, all other names must quake in fear of Kevin when it comes to basketball. I mean, look at this:

PG: Kevin Johnson
SG: Kevin Martin
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Kevin Willis
Bench: Kevin Love, Kevin McHale, Kevin Duckworth, Kevin Porter

First of all, don’t sneeze at Kevin Willis. The man is ninth on the all-time double-double list ahead of Dikembe Mutombo with 480. And you know who’s fifth on that list? Kevin Garnett. There are THIRTY-TWO All-Star selections spread across this team, plus five NBA championships. You’ve got shooting from Johnson, Durant, and Love, post scoring from McHale and Garnett, defense from Garnett, rebounding from Love, Willis, and Garnett. Even the deep bench is solid with Duckworth and Porter. And while Kevin Martin isn’t a franchise player, he’d be a very good fifth-best player in a starting five. Plus you could add Kevin Ollie and Kevin Seraphin (who’s looked pretty good of late).

This basically clinches it. If you want your kid to be good at basketball, there’s only one name you can choose for him (or her?): Kevin.

Seth Carstens