With the recent pandemic having a negative effect on the NBA’s profits, there have been multiple rumors of commissioner Adam Silver wanting to add two expansion teams. Fans have been calling upon the NBA to expand to other markets for the past couple of years.
So, how would this expansion play out? Who would be on these teams? Which cities will gain teams?
To make sure the league is balanced, two cities will gain teams and those cities are Seattle and Las Vegas. Seattle has been deprived of basketball since the Supersonics relocated to OKC and became the Thunder. The NHL has had a lot of success in Las Vegas so it would make sense for the NBA to locate a team there.
Because these markets are out west, one team will have to go East to balance the league. In this scenario, the New Orleans Pelicans would move to the Southeast Division. Seattle would be in the Northwest division, Las Vegas would be in the Pacific division, and the OKC Thunder would move to the Southwest division.
As for the draft, each team would protect 8 players. For the team’s names, Seattle will of course be the Supersonics while Las Vegas’s name would have to do with the city’s desert location or casinos (Dealers, Outlaws, Venom, etc). Expansion teams would only be able to take on one unprotected player per team. Free Agents would also be in the pool.
The draft would be a serpentine style giving teams back to back picks. Each team will pick 15 players. In this scenario, Seattle will look to be competitive as they are eager to pack the stands and bring competitive basketball to their fans while Las Vegas would primarily pick young players for a rebuild.
Pick 1: Seattle- Blake Griffin, PF
The Pistons would not want to keep Blake Griffin due to his massive salary and them being in the midst of a rebuild. Griffin would be by far the best player on the board. Blake when healthy is an all-star caliber player. Seattle can bring in a “Shawn Kemp-esk” player to their team to help them win.
Pick 2: Las Vegas- Kendrick Nunn, PG
Miami seems uninterested in former Rookie of the Year candidate Kendrick Nunn by not giving him playing time. Nunn can go to Vegas and be able to play how he did in the first half of his rookie year. Nunn is only 25 years old and still has a lot of potential.
Pick 3: Las Vegas- Kevin Huerter, SG
Atlanta would have a tough time picking who to protect with their mix of veterans and young talent. When healthy, Huerter may not be a rotation player for Atlanta making him expendable. Vegas gets a talented offensive player who is good off-ball.
Pick 4: Seattle- Ricky Rubio, PG
Minnesota has an overload of guards. Rubio does not fit the team’s time frame. As a floor general, Rubio makes everyone around him better. For success, every team needs a player like Rubio.
Pick 5: Seattle- Gary Harris, SG
In the last two seasons, Harris has been disappointing and has been taken out of Denver’s starting five. Seattle gives him a chance to return to a solid 3&D guard and he would be a good fit next to Griffin.
Pick 6: Las Vegas- Tony Bradley, C
The 76ers have a full center rotation with Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard. Bradley is a beast on the boards and is only 23 years old.
Pick 7: Las Vegas- Romeo Langford, SF
Langford has been unhealthy in his short career but has loads of potential. Langford was a lottery pick and a top recruit coming out of high school giving him heaps of potential.
Pick 8: Seattle- Harrison Barnes, SF
Barnes may be one of the most overpaid players in the league but can contribute a lot to a competitive team. Barnes can shoot the ball very well and he has winning experience.
Pick 9: Seattle- Aron Baynes, C
Next to Blake, Seattle is going to need someone to stretch the floor. Baynes can do that while playing hard defense.
Pick 10: Las Vegas- Nassir Little, F
Little hasn’t found much success in Portland but going to a new young team gives him the chance to play at the level of the high pick that he was.
Pick 11: Las Vegas- Dennis Smith Jr, PG
Dennis Smith went from being a top rookie to riding the Knicks’ bench. In Las Vegas, Smith would have a chance to turn his career around.
Pick 12: Seattle- Rudy Gay, F
Seattle adds another veteran to the team. Gay has been a consistent scorer and should continue to be one.
Pick 13: Seattle- Reggie Jackson, PG
Jackson has been a serviceable guard in the league for years, making him a good veteran. Plus, he has also played with Blake.
Pick 14: Las Vegas- Bruce Brown, SG
Brown was recently traded to Brooklyn for practically nothing but now he is heading to Vegas. Brown is known for his ability to play perimeter defense.
Pick 15: Las Vegas- Josh Hart, SF
The Pelicans have made acquisitions that have made Hart somewhat expendable. Hart is a solid all-around player who has gotten better each year.
Pick 16: Seattle- Thaddeus Young, PF
Young has made himself into a solid role player that does everything. Young doesn’t fit Chicago’s time frame and can go to Seattle and contribute immediately.
Pick 17: Seattle- Isaiah Thomas, PG
Washington native and once MVP candidate would love to get a job back in the NBA and play for his hometown.
Pick 18: Las Vegas- Willie Cauley-Stein, C
Pick 19: Las Vegas- Caleb Martin
Pick 20: Seattle- Kevon Looney, F-C
Pick 21: Seattle- Doug McDermott, SF
Pick 22: Las Vegas- Grayson Allen, SG
Pick 23: Las Vegas- Jerome Robinson, G
Pick 24: Seattle- Cameron Payne, PG
Pick 25: Seattle- Wesley Matthews, SG
Pick 26: Las Vegas- Chuma Okeke, PF
Pick 27: Las Vegas- Moritz Wagner, C
Pick 28: Seattle- Trevor Ariza, SF
Pick 29: Seattle- Georges Niang, PF
Pick 30: Las Vegas- Kenyon Martin Jr, SF
Photo: David Richard/USA TODAY Sports