Using a fantastic database of NBA player hometowns compiled by Deadspin’s Reuben Fischer-Baum last summer, we went through all 482 players who played at least one minute in the NBA in 2013-14 and made “hometown rosters” for all 30 teams.
We used “hometown,” not “birthplace” to determine team affiliation. Kevin Love was born in Los Angeles but he grew up in Oregon, so he goes on the Portland Trail Blazers, not the Los Angeles Lakers, for example.
With the NBA world already in a frenzy over the possibility Kevin Durant returning to Washington D.C. in 2016, now is as good a time as any to see what the league would look like if there was a mass movement home.
Here are all 30 teams. We ranked them from best to worst (check out more on our methodology below):
- We gave smaller markets that don’t produce a ton of NBA players more leeway than big markets. We allowed players from most of Ohio to play for the Cavaliers, for example. A lot of small markets would have trouble fielding a team, so we had to be generous. In general, a two-hour drive was the maximum limit, though.
- How we sorted out the New York: The Brooklyn Net got all players from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island. The New York Knicks got all players from Manhattan, the Bronx, and northern New Jersey.
- How we sorted out Los Angeles: The Lakers got all the players whose hometowns were listed as simply “Los Angeles” or “Compton.” The Clippers got all players from other neighborhoods. Arbitrary? Yes.
- After some deliberation, we decided that players from Baltimore (like Carmelo Anthony) can be on the Washington Wizards.
- Charlotte didn’t get players from Raleigh. We’re sorry, Charlotte, the two cities are just too far away. But if we did give them Raleigh, they’d have John Wall.
- We gave the Lopez brothers to Sacramento even though they grew up in Fresno. It’s probably the biggest reach on the entire list, but it helps them fill out the roster.
- The biggest surprise: Indianapolis! We knew the Hoosier state was a high school basketball hot bed, but we didn’t realise just how good they’d be. They’re above Philly, Brooklyn, Houston, and Miami.
- The biggest disappointment: Miami. What the heck, Miami? How is Udonis Haslem your best big man?
- Observation: The NBA would be much worse in this dream scenario because all the foreign players wouldn’t have teams.
- Poor Seattle. They could have had Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas, Martell Webster, Avery Bradley, and Marvin Williams.
- Team St. Louis would be pretty good: Ben McLemore, Bradley Beal, Anthony Tolliver, Alec Burks, and David Lee.
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