Staking NBA TerritoryJune 4, 2012
Imagine former Marquette star Dwyane Wade in a Bucks uniform. Years ago in the NBA, it might have happened. I know this is not going to happen but it’s fun to think about. Rusty Simmons recently in the San Francisco Chronicle did a piece about the days when NBA teams could use territorial picks in the first round. If a player played his college basketball within 50 miles of the NBA arena, teams could exchange their first round pick for a territorial choice. This was in effect from 1950 until 1965 as the NBA tried anything to build fan bases–something perhaps it needs to do again. The idea was that these players already had a big following in the area and this could translate to the NBA teams.
This is how Oscar Robertson from the University of Cincinnati ended up playing for the Cincinnati Royals and Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain went to the Philadelphia Warriors. He actually went to college in Kansas, but in a creative move by the NBA, was awarded to his hometown of Philadelphia because Kansas didn’t have a pro team. A whopping 11 of 22 territorial picks went to Hall of Fame.
Of the 15 players on this year’s first three All-NBA teams, five did not attend college so I based rights on their hometown (LeBron James/Cleveland, Kobe Bryant/Philadelphia, Dwight Howard/Atlanta, Andrew Bynum/Nets or Knicks and Tyson Chandler/Lakers or Clippers). Two others are from overseas (Dirk Nowitzki of Germany, ironically drafted by the Bucks and Tony Parker from France) so I don’t think it applies.
That leaves eight who attended college. Assuming they were territorial picks, it would look like this:
Kevin Durant–Does Not Apply
Russell Westbrook–Lakers or Clippers
Kevin Love—Lakers or Clippers
I know this system is far from perfect because it rewards areas with strong college programs. How would you determine which LA team would get the rich talent in Southern California and would the Knicks or Nets get New York’s top players?
You didn’t have to deal with two franchises in the same area in the old days. At least powers Kentucky, Syracuse, Texas and North Carolina are more than 50 miles from any NBA city, so you either would say their top talent (like this year’s top choice, Anthony Davis of Kentucky) would be based on his hometown (Bulls) or put him the general draft.
I’m not sure the NBA gives a rat’s behind about franchises like Milwaukee–except to act almost like the Washington Generals to the big market teams. If it does, maybe it should try this radical return to history and do away with the NBA lottery, which few people trust anyway. It’s hard to imagine things could be much worse for the small markets. It might be the only way a great player like Dwyane Wade would ever play for the Bucks.