Sunday, May 26, 2013

Which State Births The Best NBA Players?

When starting lineups are introduced before an NBA game, the arena announcer usually include a player's height, jersey number, position, experience, and college.  If a player didn't attend college, then their high school is declared, if they didn't attend high school in the United States, then their country of birth is given.  As I was browsing Twitter the other night, I ran across a question that piqued my interest.  Someone said "I wondered, if you made NBA teams with players all from the same state, who would have the best team?"  Being that I was raised and live in California, I answered quickly, "Easily California."  Is the answer really that simple though?  To be sure, I did further research and for fun, assembled rosters based on the birth state of players.

It's been said that Madison Square Garden is "The Mecca" of basketball and Rucker Park is where players go to see if their game is "street worthy", so I figure I'd start with the Empire State.  New York can certainly field a formidable lineup; on the short list of states that can put together a full group with reserves that most fans would want on their team.   Starting with center, you have Joakim Noah with Roy Hibbert backing him up and Andre Drummond if you need him.  NY can choose from Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Andray Blatche or Charlie Villanueva at the Four or start Carmelo Anthony there like he did this season with the Knicks. (Yes, Melo was born in NY although he is known to be from Baltimore). On the wing, you have solid young players like Danny Green and Lance Stephenson; Metta World Peace would be the vet off the bench or go with the youth movement with Tobias Harris. You can't have a solid team without a floor general; I'm going with Kemba Walker from a group that includes, Sebastian Telfair, Jimmer Fredette, and Johnny Flynn. 

The Prairie State is where Chicago is; let's take a look at who represents Illinois.  If Derrick Rose ever plays again he'll start at point, joined by Dwyane Wade in the back court, Andre Iguodala is the starter at small forward. Tony Allen, Iman Shumpert, Evan Turner, Corey Maggette or sharp shooter Steve Novak can come off the bench. Anthony Davis and Shawn Marion at the four, old head Nazr Mohammed is the center and you'll have to call on Eddy Curry to back him up. Illinois will have to rely on Shaun Livingston to bring the ball up if there's no D-Rose.

Lebron James complained about not having any support when he played for Cleveland. Could he rack up wins with other players from the Buckeye State?  Stephen Curry was also born in Akron, he'll run the point. Kevin Martin is a solid guard. Jared Sullinger has proved he can hold his own at the four when healthy. Byron Mullens and Kosta Koufas will share the duty at center. Norris Cole and Daequan Cook can fill out the roster as reserve guards.  Only eight players worth mentioning but they can have Mike D'Antoni coaching them and they'll be able to get by with their versatility.

You would think as big a state that Texas is, they'll be competitive but that's barely true. There's not a "Lone Star" at point, only Boobie Gibson; is TJ Ford under anybody's contract. Jimmy Butler, Wesley Matthews, or Gerald Green play wing. Lamarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Kendrick Perkins, and DeAndre Jordan are the big.

Louisiana can put together a squad Marcus Thornton, DJ Augustine, Antawn Jamison, Thaddeus Young, Danny Granger, Paul Millsap, Brandon Bass, Big Baby Davis, and Greg Monroe.  The element missing from the Pelican state is an agile wing player.  

You see, there aren't many states that can brag about breeding ball players. I'll list two more before getting to the giant.  The Hoosiers have point guards in Mike Conley, George Hill,  and Jeff Teague. They have Eric Gordon and Gordon Hayward (I didn't plan that). Zach Randolph is a beast down low but no other big really besides Josh McRoberts.  Georgia brought us Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Derrick Favors, JJ Hickson, and Jordan Hill but haven't produced many perimeter players.  The DMV can boast a solid team if you joined the District, Maryland, and Virginia as one but if I did that, other places like Jersey and Pennsylvania can be joined.  Would it be fun? Yes.  However, it's not about that.  The answer to the question that prompted this article is...

Indeed, California is truly the Golden State in terms of striking it rich if you're looking for basketball players.  The tweet above was definitely on point in both instances, so much that the problem with California is trying to determine who to leave off of the team. The point guards born in California are Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, and Brandon Jennings. Shooting guards James Harden, Demar Derozan, and Klay Thompson all come from Southern Cali.  Paul George, Paul Pierce and Kawhi Leonard are big-time small forwards.  Tyson Chandler and the Lopez Twins will play center. The thinnest part of the roster would be at power forward but Derrick Williams and Amir Johnson can man the four, wait I'm just kidding because Kevin Love was born a California beach boy.  Solid players like Tayshaun Prince, Andre Miller, Kyle Korver, and Jeremy Lin would probably never get to take their warm-ups off. I should also mention that Ray Allen was born in Merced, California. 

Please remember, this conversation is based strictly on where these players are born, not where they grew up or played high school.  Looking at it analytically, although New York can fill out a complete roster with solid players, they would be no match for California due to the weakness at guard.  Neither would Illinois, they lack depth up front but I feel they would give NY a solid run because most of their players are dynamic and good defenders.  If this was played on a video game and players didn't get tired, Lebron and Curry would do damage for Ohio, but in real life California would run them off of the court.  Have fun with this and feel free to create these rosters on NBA2K and ball out with your friends.  

Shout out to Jabari Davis and Sheldon Cooper for inspiring me to write this piece.  All information regarding the players births were obtained from  If you feel any state was wrongfully excluded or if I missed any players, please leave me a comment. 

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