I went into the Cavs - Nets game on Tuesday night pondering this question: could the best in the NBA's Developmental League beat the Nets?
Now I didn't rush to judgement here. I objectively watched the Cavaliers 104-97 win over the Nets, and I do contend that matching up with Brook Lopez - who totaled 23 points and 14 rebounds (mostly against Z) - and Courtney Lee - who led the Nets with 24 - would be difficult. And I do know the Nets played hard, hung in with the best team in the NBA, and gave their best effort. But I also know the Cavs could have cared less about all that. They laughed when Shaq passed it to Boobie out of bounds, and didn't seem bothered in the least by Z's brutal night from the field, or by the fact that the Nets were trying hard. They just did the Nets like you used to do your little brother - stiff arm down to his forehead and let him swing away as hard as he can while you're standing there laughing the whole time because he's too little to reach you to hit you.But joking aside, this is an honest question:
What if the Nets were actually forced to play the D-Leaguers on February 13th in Dallas in lieu of the previously scheduled D-League All Star Game - could they lose?
On paper, in the offseason, no probably not. But right now, while they currently sport the worst record through 51 games in NBA history? Sitting at 4-47? Morale is rather low I'd say. What if the game was nationally televised with everyone tuning in to see if the Nets could lose? And what if it were played away from New Jersey where the Nets are currently 1-27 this season? Possible the D-Leaguers get the W? I'd say they'd have a chance, but lets go to the hypothetical D-League line-up for further evaluation...
The following players are taken from the D-League All Star Game rosters. I combined the West and East rosters to come up with my starting five as well as key reserves. In parenthesis is the D-League team, and NBA squad, the players have spent time with this season.
D-League Starting Five:
G - Sundiata Gaines (ID / Utah) - 6'1"
G - Alonzo Gee (Austin) - 6'6"
F - Rob Kurz (Fort Wayne) - 6'9"
F - Joey Dorsey (Rio Grande / Houston) - 6'9"
C - Alexis Ajinca (Maine / Charlotte) - 7'0"
F - Anthony Tolliver (ID/Golden State) - 6'9"
F - Dwyane Jones (Austin) - 6'11"
G - Mustafa Shakur (Tulsa) - 6'3"
C - Earl Barron (Iowa) - 6'11"
For D-Leauge scoring leaders click here.
So that's three 7-footers in Ajinca, Jones, and Barron with NBA experience to run at Lopez, a 6'6" guard in Gee who is scoring 20 ppg in the D-League to match-up with Courtney Lee, a play-maker in Gaines who's hit big shots before as we know, as well as a top-8 with a decent amount of NBA experience (all except Shakur). Dorsey can defend and rebound with anybody, Kurz can stretch the floor...who knows. I just know I'd watch if the NBA made them play.
Oh and for the record, the Nets are lucky in this case that Coby Karl's not eligible to be a D-League All Star (he signed on 1-31 with Golden State after scoring just over 27 ppg through 5 D-League games), because if he were, they'd be in a lot of trouble.