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Breaking Down The First Actually Good $15 NBA Pick ‘Em Board

Over the past year or so it has become increasingly popular for NBA related Twitter accounts to post some sort of “pick ’em” grid that offers you the choice of players valued from $1-$5 and a prompt of “you have $15, who you got?”

These typically come from media or brand accounts craving that sweet, sweet engagement boost, and are often put together without too terribly much thought. However, on Tuesday, Twitter’s @LucasHoopsPoems produced arguably the best one of these pick ’em prompts I have ever seen, as there was clearly significant thought and effort put into it — as evidenced by the fact that he had friends look over it and work out some kinks before throwing it up online.

The addition of $6 players makes things much more difficult and also allows for more appropriate tiers. Because they didn’t make it fit in a neat 5 x 5 box, there are more players and, as such, the decisions you have to make are more difficult and the tiers are better divided. For instance, the $1 range features some specialists and players whose impact was clearly felt more on one end than the other, rather than being stacked with Hall of Famers.

There are also a ton of ways to go about putting together a team on this list, and all of them require some very tough decisions. Let’s go through a few of my favorite teams I’ve come up with.

The All-Never Won A Ring Team: Chris Paul, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins, Charles Barkley, Joel Embiid

I feel like Reggie Miller in the $2 slot is one of the best values on the board, a testament to the guard depth in league history, and putting him next to Chris Paul would be a lot of fun. The issue with this team is, without a doubt, wing defense with Reggie and Nique, but offensively this team would rule and having Chris Paul pestering opposing point guards and Embiid lording over the middle of the paint I think we might be able to get away with it. The toughest decisions for me were Chris Paul v. Gary Payton and Barkley v. Anthony Davis, but I also love the idea of having all five of these incredible shit talkers all on one team and Davis would be the odd man out there.

First Team All-Defense: Gary Payton, Tony Allen, Kawhi Leonard, Dennis Rodman, Dikembe Mutombo

An absolute fever dream for those that wish we’d go back to those halcyon days of the playoffs when games finished in the 70s. The Glove and Tony Allen absolutely ruining opposing backcourts both physically and mentally, while Kawhi and Rodman fly around on the wings and Dikembe is ready to block anyone that makes their way to the rim.

First Team All-Offense: Allen Iverson, James Harden, Dominique Wilkins, Dirk Nowitzki, DeMarcus Cousins, (6th Man Kyle Korver)

The antithesis of the previous team, I want scorers with questionable at best defensive backgrounds (hence the selection of Harden over Kobe even though we had a dollar left over for Korver). We’re trying to average 150 points per game and I don’t care if we give up that many too. One basketball may not be enough for this team, but everyone in the starting lineup can average 25 without breaking much of a sweat.

The Best Team: Chris Paul, Reggie Miller, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard

I think this is the best team I can come up with. I can’t get over thinking CP3-Reggie is the best value backcourt combo you can make and they’re a really good fit. The forward spot is filled almost totally with fours, but I think Durant-Love works with prime Dwight anchoring things. It’s basically the concept of those late 2000s Magic — surround Dwight with shooters — but taken to a different level by adding the best pick-and-roll point guard partner possible for him, one of the best shooters in history in Reggie, one of the best scorers ever (and a tremendous wing defender) in KD, and a great shooter in Love who can rebound and knows how to play that role.