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What would the Thunder look like if all Oklahoma City’s stars came home like LeBron James?

by Erik Horne Published: July 24, 2014

How would Blake Griffin look playing with a team of Oklahoma City natives? What about Kevin Durant with players from D.C.? Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
How would Blake Griffin look playing with a team of Oklahoma City natives? What about Kevin Durant with players from D.C.? Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

An interesting exercise started when Elite Daily’s Joseph Millord presented a blog answering what every NBA team would look like if the stars from that NBA city went home like LeBron James.

The premise is intriguing. What if Chicago natives played for the Bulls? Dallas natives for the Mavericks? Oklahoma City natives for the Thunder? Washington D.C. natives (gulp, Kevin Durant) for the Wizards?

Who would win in a league of hometown heroes?

Others have followed suit since Elite Daily’s initial offering (you can see all the hypothetical teams here, plus I’ll highlight some of the best teams at the bottom of the blog).

Here’s what ED’s Oklahoma City team would look like:

 

Thoughts: Maurice Evans, Shelden Williams and J.R. Giddens didn’t even play in the NBA last year. I’m not saying those guys can’t ball, but we can do better.

NBA.com’s version of Team OKC is probably better, but it’s still missing some pieces (and frankly, it just doesn’t feel right).

From NBA.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY
G – Earl Watson
G – Archie Goodwin
F – Joe Johnson
F – Blake Griffin
C – Ekpe Udoh

Notes: It took a sweep of four states, including Kansas, Nebraska and Arkansas, to pull together this starting five. Sorry, Seattle and the state of Washington were off-limits, given how many players that area already donated to OKC.

Umm … we can do better than having to pillage three surrounding states for talent. Take this team, for example:

G – Markel Brown (Louisiana native)
G – Xavier Henry (Putnam City)
F – Blake Griffin (Oklahoma Christian School)
F – Daniel Orton (Bishop McGuinness)
C – Ekpe Udoh (Edmond Santa Fe)

Hear me out.

Griffin and Udoh are legit. Henry is a must after his best season as a pro last year with the Lakers. And maybe if you give Daniel Orton the starting spot on the Oklahoma All-Stars, he’ll have better luck than he’s had in limited minutes as a pro (his per 36 minute averages are solid, if not spectacular. Same with Udoh).

My Oklahoma City team is going as young, athletic, and as much OKC as possible, which means Orton is getting the nod over Arkansas native Joe Johnson (who’s 33). We’re playing big with Griffin at small forward. Blake can pull it off.

And you’re telling me you wouldn’t take your chances with Markel Brown running the point over 35-year-old Earl Watson? If you’re gonna steal players from other states, let’s go with the crazy upside of Louisiana’s Brown over Kansas City native Watson.

This is a scary athletic lineup. The Brown-Henry-Griffin three-headed monster would be terrifying in transition, Udoh cleans up the boards and plays defense and you cross your fingers that Orton stays healthy and giving him some guaranteed minutes at PF helps him to flourish.

That’s my hometown Thunder squad. Here’s a look at some of the best fantasy teams:

WORTH MENTIONING: Elite Daily’s and NBA.com’s teams vary in criteria. For instance, Kevin Love is listed as a Portland Trail Blazers starter by ED because of his Lake Oswego, Ore., upbringing, but NBA.com has him as a Los Angeles Clippers player because Love was born in Santa Monica, Calif. … NBA.com went by the players’ birth city and state, according to basketball-reference.com. ... This entire exercise is flexible and prone to stealing other players from other states. You could, in theory, put Marcus Smart (Flour Mound, Texas) on the OKC team if you're going to pull players from as far as Kansas, Arkansas and Nebraska. Flour Mound is closer to Oklahoma City (close to 3 hours), than Markel Brown's hometown of Alexandria, La. is to OKC (more than 7 hours).

 

Washington Wizards

Thoughts: Filthy. Could score on anyone and would be good defensively on the interior with Hibbert. Lawson could push the pace and Durant and Melo would be interchangeable at SF/PF. Gay is your one “weak link.” Rebounding could be an issue, but this team would make a ton of shots, so …

 

NBA.com’s Los Angeles teams

L.A. CLIPPERS
G – Russell Westbrook
G – Arron Afflalo
F – Kevin Love
F – Tayshaun Prince
C – Tyson Chandler

L.A. LAKERS
G – James Harden
G – Klay Thompson
F – Kawhi Leonard
F – DeMar DeRozan
C – Brook Lopez

Thoughts: The UCLA reunion would work out well for the Clippers with Westbrook, Afflalo and Love. Prince is over the hill, but Chandler can still defend. … The real Lakers would kill for this young (average age: 24.2), small-ball lineup. Leonard could do the dirty work as a stretch 4 (Lopez would need help on the glass). Harden can score from everywhere. Thompson’s your shooter. DeRozan’s above the rim.

 

Chicago Bulls

Thoughts: Sensing a theme? Small ball again. This team is dependent on the health of Wade and Rose. If you’ve got those two 100 percent, that can offset any mistakes Parker would make as a youngster. Marion is older (36) but averaged 10.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 2013-14 and is a versatile defender. Davis is rapidly becoming one of the best overall players in the NBA.

by Erik Horne
Online Sports Editor
Erik Horne joined The Oklahoman as a sports web editor/producer in September 2013, following a five-year stint at The Ardmoreite (Ardmore) – first as a sports writer, then sports editor. At The Ardmoreite, Horne reported on everything from prep...
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