Back Where It All Started: What If These Athletes Returned To Play For Their Hometowns?
Picture this: a world where hometown heroes rule the court. It’s where LeBron James is leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory, Steph Curry is shooting hoops for the Golden State Warriors, and Anthony Davis is dunking for the New Orleans Pelicans. It’s a utopia where every player represents their hometown team, and the crowd is proud. But alas, this is not the reality of the NBA. Thanks to the draft system, players rarely get the chance to play for their childhood teams.
And while it helps balance the league, it does make us wonder what would happen if every player did get to represent their hometown. Would the Chicago Bulls dominate with Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade? Would the Charlotte Hornets reign supreme with Steph Curry and Chris Paul on the same team? It’s time to find out. Here are the teams that would be formed if players could only play for their hometowns. Fair warning, some of these lineups are downright scary.
Key players: Nerlens Noel, Shabazz Napier, and Michael Carter-Williams
The Boston Celtics would never allow for their roster to become filled with garbage players like these.
We’re not bad-mouthing these players, but you have no options if they’re your best options.
Key players: Dwight Howard, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick Favors
There was once a time when the Hawks were always a threat to win. Boy, they love to have Malcolm Brogdon (#13), a former Rookie of the Year, to rebuild their team around.
Dwight Howard has already been a Hawk. He didn’t have his best time out there, but he put in a lot of effort.
Key players: Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Knight, and Trevor Ariza
The Miami Heat don’t need much added to their roster to make them more of a complete ball club. Their hometown heroes wouldn’t be that bad as replacements.
Brandon Knight knows how to score the basketball pretty well. Trevor Ariza is an NBA champion and knows what it takes on the defensive side of the ball to win games.
Key players: Mike Conley and Gordon Hayward
The Pacers have been a middle-of-the-pack team for a decade. Swapping rosters with the hometown kids might be an improvement.
Gordon Hayward is a proven all-star. This wouldn’t be a bad team to call your favorite if you’re a Pacers fan.
Key players: Tristan Thompson, Corey Joseph, and Andrew Wiggins
The Toronto Raptors have always been an interesting team. They have never been at the top of the food chain, but they’ve had tremendous players like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and DeMar DeRozen.
Their hometown players aren’t that bad, either.
Los Angeles Clippers
Key players: Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook, and DeMar DeRozen.
First and foremost, those three key players aren’t even all this Los Angeles team would have to offer, but they are the most important. In the real NBA, the Clippers have never won a championship nor have they even made it to the Finals.
That would surely change if you add Westbrook and DeRozen to the mix. An MVP and one of the best shooters in league history isn’t that bad. They would also have the huge Lopez twins as their big men ready to protect the basket.
Key players: Jimmy Butler and DeAndre Jordan
The Houston Rockets would also be another one of the better teams in a hometown universe. The presence of Butler and Jordan would automatically make anyone else on the team elevate their game.
The defense would be immaculate with this team, but they would be lacking on the offensive side of things. Still, playing against them wouldn’t be easy.
New York Knicks
Key players: Carmelo Anthony and Tobias Harris
The Knicks are similar to the Clippers because both teams have other teams in the same city. Starting with the Knicks, they’ll get Anthony to suit back up for them and Harris. Anthony is getting older so he is far from the efficient scorer he used to be, but Harris is still quite young and full of defense.
Overall, the team wouldn’t be too bad, but would the Brooklyn Nets be better?
Key Players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Myles Turner, and Julius Randle
The Dallas Mavericks would take tough interior to new heights. Aldridge (left), and Turner (right) are both already formidable big men but tossing in Randle takes it over the top. Nobody would want to take it to the basket with those tough guys waiting on you.
Currently, the Mavericks are in a rebuilding period so they would love if this were real. At the Mavericks current state, they aren’t competing for a championship. If they had these hometown players, that would certainly change.
Key players: Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, and Anthony Davis
Ironically enough, Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade have played for their hometown teams already. Rose was drafted by the Bulls while Wade was traded there a few years ago. Jabari Parker is the latest player to play for his hometown Chicago.
Those three plus Anthony Davis and throw in Jahlil Okafor; you’re in for a rough night playing against that. A former MVP, a Finals MVP and Olympians all on the same team. Bulls fans probably wish this were real.
Los Angeles Lakers
Key players: Kevin Love, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard
The Los Angeles area has some of the best talent in the NBA. You saw who the Clippers would have and we didn’t even mention everyone. The Lakers team would bolster some top talent as well.
Outside of the names already mentioned, Paul George and Lonzo Ball are a few others who would be here. From this point, it would really be a toss up on who is the better Los Angeles team.
Key players: Devin Booker, Draymond Green, and JaVale McGee
The Detroit Pistons have a connotation of toughness attached to them ever since the days of Michael Jordan. Maybe it’s due to the actual city being known to produce some tough public figures, but nonetheless, things wouldn’t change with their hometown players.
If you haven’t heard yet, Green used to kick people in their groin. Booker isn’t one to take lightly either. He may be young but he’s already making a name for his self as one of the toughest competitors.
Key players: Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, and Avery Bradley
Kevin Durant alone is enough to make any team a good team. Then you add in the defense stopper Avery Bradley with slashing forward Rudy Gay and the Wizards would be a force to reckon with.
The team the Wizards currently have is already pretty good. It makes you wonder if the hometown kids could take down the true roster. That would be a good game to watch.
Key players: Kemba Walker, Andre Drummond, and Kenneth Faried
Among all the teams on this list, the Brooklyn Nets real team is probably the worse off. They would cherish to have any of their hometown players come and hoop for them. Even if it were just Andre Drummond.
Unfortunately, that won’t be happening anytime soon. However, having Kemba Walker and Drummond would drastically improve their team. It wouldn’t make them championship contenders, but at least they could sneak into the playoffs.
Key players: LeBron James, Larry Nance Jr., and CJ McCollum
There is no way a team that has LeBron James on its roster isn’t going to be good. It’s actually statistically proven. All he needs is good teammates around him.
James with CJ McCollum alone would be an amazing duo. James has already played with Larry Nance Jr (left) and gone to the finals with him. The boys in Cleveland might be a lot to handle on the court if this were to happen.
Key players: Kyle Lowry, Marcus Morris, and Markieff Morris
Before recently, the 76ers were the laughing stock of the NBA. After “trusting the process” and drafting some talented players, they have managed to climb their way back to near the top of the food chain.
As a matter of fact, this hometown team would be a step backwards to what they have now. Still, these Philadelphia natives would have some bite to them.
Golden State Warriors
Key players: Damian Lillard, Jeremy Lin, and Aaron Gordon
This much different Golden State Warrior team would be interesting to watch. Of course, not as exciting as the current Warriors but they would still be worth the money spent. Lillard and Lin alone make an intriguing guard combo.
While Gordon is no Kevin Durant, he still is in the top three in the NBA as far as leaping ability goes. So while Lillard and Lin shoot long three pointers, Gordon will be the one making fancy slam dunks.
Key players: Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, John Wall, and Hassan Whiteside
Does anything else need to be said here? Those four names alone are able to beat a lot of current NBA teams. Curry is already a proven champion and Chris Paul has the most heart in the NBA if you ask his peers.
This version of the Charlotte Hornets team would be the greatest team they’ve ever had on the court.
New Orleans Pelicans
Key players: Elfrid Payton, and Thaddeus Young
Due to the Pelicans being a relatively new franchise, we can’t judge them based on their past success. We can, however, look to the bright future they have.
The way their roster is currently set up, they would have no need for the hometown players. Elfrid Payton (right) has a lot of potential, but he is light years behind Davis. New Orleans fans would be irate if this became a reality.