So, the first reaction I had was this: Who picked the most players from the NBA's 50 Greatest Players list, circa 1997? We, as consumers of the NBA circa 2016, are likely going to skew towards the modern game. One could argue that the game is better now than it ever has been. One could argue that today's athletes are bigger, faster, stronger, more athletic and better shooters. I personally argue this way often. But, it's interesting to see where teams skewed in their drafting, at least. You certainly could make the argument for 15-20 more players in the last two decades joining that list.
St. Louis drafted seven (!) of the 50 Greatest Players. That's impressive in a 20-team draft that would, on average, leave every team with two or three players from this list. But St. Louis had a clear strategy: Each of its first seven selections was one of the 50 Greatest Players. Washington also snatched up six such players, including Lenny Wilkens in the ninth round and Jerry Lucas in the 12th round. Those are absolute steals, for sure.
Notably, the Dragons had zero from this list. You could tell that in the team's early strategy, where they went modern players early: Tracy McGrady shouldn't have been a first-rounder and they took Andre Iguodala far too early, as well. That's just a weird team that overdrafted. In any type of draft, you have to account for proper value in some way. That's just poor value, in my mind, even if you think the modern game is far better.
A team that is among the most intriguing to me: San Antonio. Stephen Curry, as a two-time MVP, would certainly make a revised Greatest Players list. And when you combine his hyper-gravity with the passing of John Stockton, old-school games of Joe Dumars and Paul Pierce, and defense of Dennis Rodman, Joakim Noah and Bruce Bowen? That's a really fun team. There are extra floor-spacers in Eddie Jones, Shane Battier and Nicolas Batum, too. I'd love to watch this team in 2016.
Monster teams are also prevalent, for sure. How would Moses Malone and Dwight Howard play together in Seattle? Or Patrick Ewing and Dikembe Mutombo in Chicago? It's really fascinating to see how we in 2016 weigh the perceived lack of outside shooting from older-generation players. How dominant would New York's Wilt Chamberlain truly be against today's big men? And are we looking just at the most dominant single-seasons for these players? If so, it's hard to rationalize taking youngsters so early in this draft. And Hall of Famers was a fun strategy to take.