NBA Jam revisited

9 01 2010

As with many other sports video game enthusiasts from the ages of 23 to 40, I was nearly floored the other day by this report that the NBA Jam franchise will get a fresh rejuvenation. New York Magazine’s sports department apparently has nothing to do all day, which enabled them to crank out a list of possible NBA Jam rosters from the current set of NBA teams.

Rather than write an entire post reacting to NY Mag’s picks (yes, the Lakers, Magic and Celtics have the three best teams), I’d prefer to list the top hypothetical NBA Jam rosters had the game been produced through the ’90s and ’00s. Who are the teams from 1995-2009 that would’ve provided the greatest NBA Jam squads? I’ll go Top 11 and follow NY Mag’s style. In other words, three players per team with the two starters in caps.

Mitch Richmond throwin' down the junk.

11. 2002-03 Golden State Warriors — ANTAWN JAMISON, JASON RICHARDSON, Gilbert Arenas

This would be the smallest group overall but it contains possibly the best mix of scorers who can dribble and shoot. No shot blocking but enough three-point threats and plenty of dunking. Still, you gotta feel handicapped by their lack of size.

10. 2005-06 Minnesota Timberwolves — KEVIN GARNETT, WALLY SZCZERBIAK, Ricky Davis

KG a year after his peak, Wally’s a 6’7 sharpshooter and Davis is taller than he seems (6’6) and throws down crazy dunks. Plus, you can try to score a triple-double with him and have him take a shot at the opponent’s rim to grab his own rebound — just like it happened in real life.

9. 1999-2000 Toronto Raptors — VINCE CARTER, TRACY MCGRADY, Antonio Davis Charles Oakley

Hard to imagine Half-Man, Half-Amazing and T-Mac played together at one time. This was Vince’s peak as a showman, highlighted by that amazing performance at the Slam Dunk competition during All-Star Weekend. Davis is here as the stereotypical big man for rebounding/knocking heads, but it could just as easily be Oakley. Come to think of it, we’ll make it Oak.

8. 2001-02 San Antonio Spurs — TIM DUNCAN, DAVID ROBINSON, Derek Anderson

Can you run two 7-footers with one of them handling the ball? Of course you can. Robinson was still reasonably productive during this season and Derek Anderson was a slasher who could get sneaky hot from outside. Of course the key is Duncan, who was just entering his prime. If nothing else, Duncan-Robinson would permit you to block your way through some teams.

7. 2003-04 New Jersey Nets — JASON KIDD, KENYON MARTIN, Richard Jefferson

Here’s where Jam gets tricky. In NBA Street, it pays off to have the sweet-dribbling point guard to rack up points. That doesn’t fly in Jam, where all that matters is getting the ball in the hoop. Therefore, you want at least one of the three types of player: 1) Big man who can’t be blocked, 2) Athletic slasher with crazy hops, 3) Sharpshooter, ideally with height so that he can’t be blocked. Kidd hadn’t developed his shooting stroke yet and Kenyon or RJ couldn’t really shoot outside either. So you’d basically use Kidd to throw oops to Kenyon and RJ all day, which isn’t a half-bad strategy.

6. 2001-02 Dallas Mavericks — DIRK NOWITZKI, STEVE NASH, Michael Finley

Nash is short so he’d be at a disadvantage defensively. Of course, Dirk is a 7-footer with range so he’s almost as good a player as you can have in Jam. Finley was still athletic enough during this season to be the typical athletic slasher guy. All in all, this might be the best shooting team in the lot.

5.  2001-02 Sacramento Kings — CHRIS WEBBER, PEJA STOJAKOVIC, Doug Christie

The team that set the stage for the up-and-down offenses in the West, such as Phoenix and Dallas. The late-’90s teams might have been more exciting with Webber and Jason Williams running the show, but this is the year where Webb peaked and Peja became a go-to three-point specialist (just not in Game 7 of the Western Finals). Webb and Peja could get up and down the court, although neither is gonna be confused with being a dunker — Webb’s time in that role had passed.

4. 2008-09 Orlando Magic — DWIGHT HOWARD, RASHARD LEWIS, Hedo Turkoglu

Remember that the 2001-02 Kings had Hedo and Gerald Wallace sitting on the bench. Hedo was nothing like the scorer then that he is now. Still, Howard-Lewis is pretty lethal. Howard is possibly the best rebounder/shot blocker in the game and Rashard is a 6’11 knockout shooter. But Dwight can’t dribble for anything or shoot outside. Rashard can’t shot block.

3. 1995-96 Orlando Magic — SHAQUILLE O’NEAL, PENNY HARDAWAY, Dennis Scott

I put Shaq/Penny ahead of Dwight/Rashard for two reasons: Shaq at 24 was far more dominant than Dwight is now. And Penny is a much better ball-handler and playmaker than Rashard, though not the shooter. But doesn’t the sentimentality of playing with Shaq/Penny outweigh Dwight/Rashard? I think so. Plus, if Penny isn’t doing it for ya, Scott makes for a great change-of-pace little guy who can shoot the rock.

2. 2004-05 Phoenix Suns — SHAWN MARION, AMARE STOUDEMIRE, Joe Johnson

Whoa, this team can’t even fit Nash. Matrix and Amare are the reason why Jam should have a version released every year. This team can do anything. Of course, if you aren’t trying to throw down a Slam-a-jamma every time with these guys, you should put down the controller and punch yourself in the face.

1. 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers — SHAQ DADDY, KOBE BRYANT, Glen Rice

Anyone who knows me understands I love the Lakers. This might be a biased ranking, it might not. (It probably is.) My blog, my rules. To tell you the truth, I might pair Rice with Shaq considering he’s 6’8 and an accomplished shooter. He was amazing with the way he’d get on a roll from downtown. And Shaq was at his best in this season. Plus you still have Young Kobe, who was never the high flyer that MJ and Vince were but still had enough to get up and get down. This trifecta encompasses the three ways to score better than any other team. Shaq is a beast and can’t be stopped toward the hoop, Kobe could drive and throw down and Rice could light it up from deep. Kobe can handle the ball, Shaq can block/rebound anything, Rice/Kobe are tall enough to hold their own defensively and on the ‘boards and there’s an inherent excitement from playing Shaq/Kobe (with Rice). There’s nothing not to like about this team and no other trifecta from 1994-2009 who could stop them in Jam. Go Lakers.

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3 responses

9 01 2010
Scanman

Duncan, Parker, Ginobili a no brainer. Thought you were better than that Kyle.

9 01 2010
kylestackblog

They were #12, I promise.

10 01 2010
Page Seven

I’d put Shaq and Penny as my number one.

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