C: Nate Thurmond (31) | Mehmet Okur (10) | Antonio McDyess (7) | Caldwell Jones
PF: Chris Webber (36) | Antonio McDyess (12)
SF: Bobby Jones (29) | Rodney McCray (10) | Wesley Person (9)
SG: Kobe Bryant (37) | Fat Lever (11) | Wesley Person
PG: Penny Hardaway (33)| BJ Armstrong (8) | Fat Lever (7)
First off, congrats to Matter for obtaining the 3-seed and building a very quality team in a stacked conference. This is a nightmare matchup for you guys though.
Roshtown will be running the triangle offense primarily. Chris Webber is a phenomenal post option for the triangle because he is one of the best passing big-men of all time, can hit the mid-range jumper at a high rate, and is proficient in the paint. Heís exactly what Kobe thrives off of in the post. We also thrive off of winning one-on-one matchups, especially in the backcourt. How many starting backcourts can guard both Penny Hardaway and Kobe Bryant? Penny Hardaway, playing at PG, led his team to the NBA Finals along with Shaquille OíNeal in just his second year and was a serious MVP candidate. He can shoot, drive, dish, and even post up with his 6-7 frame versus smaller guards. We all know that Kobe can win one-on-one matchups in a plethora of ways, whether it be post-ups, mid-range game, or driving to the basket. This is also what makes guys like Nate Thurmond and Bobby Jones so valuable. Bobby Jones made his living off of cutting to the hoop, grabbing loose balls, and crashing the glass. Nate Thurmond is a phenomenal rebounder and though his touch around the hoop is not the greatest, he can hit the mid-range jumper if need be. The offense of this team is going to run through our guards and Chris Webber, but all of these players are good and willing passers (Kobe- 5.1 APG, Penny- 6.7 APG, Bobby Jones-3.5 APG, Webber- 4.1 APG, and Thurmond-3.7 APG). When you have willing passers who can find the mismatch, and a backcourt that will wreak havoc for backcourts, itís a recipe for success.
This San Jose just doesnít have the perimeter defense to match up with Roshtown. Dennis Johnson is a great defender, but we know that no matter the defender, Kobe will get his. Dennis has the ability to frustrate Kobe and make him take some tough shots which may lead to some poor shooting games, but Kobe is one of the best tough shot makers in the game and also has the option to defer to his backcourt mate, Penny Hardaway. Penny is going to have a big mismatch on his hands if heís going against Michael Finley. Finley might have the height to guard him, but he doesnít have the quickness to guard someone like Penny who can get to the hoop at will. When Penny was in his prime in Orlando, he sported a 59% TS%. He is adept at getting to the line, setting up his teammates for easy buckets, and being aggressive getting to the paint. Heíll be causing a great deal of issues for San Jose this series because either he or Kobe is going to have Finley on him which is an ideal matchup for Roshtown. Down low, if they throw Wilt on Webber, then good luck to Pau trying to stop Nate on the offensive glass. In this case, Webberís scoring may be limited, but his presence in the post as a passer and mid-range option still remains. We imagine with guys like Kobe, Webber, and Hardaway, Wilt will have his hands full playing help defense and this will result in foul trouble. Lastly, Bobby Jones will get his hustle points no matter the defender. He can finish around the rim, grab offensive rebounds, and knows when to make the right cuts. His points arenít coming off of isolation plays, heís a player that feeds off the rest of the team and the ultimate role player for us.
Weíre going to be sticking Kobe Bryant on Dennis Johnson and let Penny Hardaway guard Michael Finley. Kobe in his prime was one of, if not the best wing defender in the NBA and would give a smaller guy like Dennis Johnson fits. The half-court offense for San Jose will be reliant on post scoring from Wilt and penetration from Grant Hill and Dennis Johnson. Sticking Kobe on Dennis Johnson will definitely limit Dennis Johnsonís production. On the flipside, we have no issue putting Penny on Michael Finley, because Penny isnít a typical point guard. The man is 6-7, 195 and is definitely capable of guarding both guard positions. With Kobe giving all kinds of fits to Dennis, Iím sure San Jose will rely more heavily on Grant Hill to create some offense. Unfortunately for them, we have one of the best defenders to play the forward position guarding him in Bobby Jones. Jones made NINE All-Defensive First teams and is a guy who has the ability to really frustrate Grant Hill. Jones sports a 6-9 210 pound frame so you know he isnít getting posted up by Hill. Hill is great at getting to the hoop and creating for others, but with a brute like Thurmond down low and Bobby Jones sticking him like white on rice, itís going to be a long series for Hill.
In terms of big men, Webber will be guarding Pau and Thurmond will be guarding Chamberlain. Webber and Pau arenít exactly defensive stoppers, but they both bring a lot of the same things to the table. Webber in his prime just does the things that Pau does a little bit better. Heís a better passer in the post, has a better mid-range game, and is a better rebounder than Pau. Theyíre both pretty good defenders, but imagine that both of them will be able to execute their roles well this series, with Webber having the slight advantage of just being a better player. The money matchup this series is Wilt Chamberlain vs. Nate Thurmond. Matchups like these are why Roshtown drafted Nate. In his prime, Nate was one of the greatest defensive centers in the game. He went against Kareem, Wilt, and Russell in their prime. Hereís how he fared in a few of those playoff series:
In Wilts championship year he faced both Bill Russell and Nate.
VS Russell, Wilt averaged 21.6 PPG (56% FG %) - 32.0 REB - 10.0 AST
VS Nate in the Finals, Wilt averaged 17.6PPG (56%FG %) - 28.5 REB - 6.8 AST
Wilt Chamberlain vs. Nate: 12.0 PPG (50% FG %) - 23.5 REB - 3.0 AST
Kareem A.Jabbar - 22.8 ppg, 18.4 rpg, 5.4 apg, 40.5 %FG, 47.8 min
Nate Thurmond - 25.4 ppg, 17.8 rpg, 5.2 apg, 43.4 %FG, 46.0 min
KAJ - 22.8 PPG (42.8 FG%) - 16.2 REB - 2.8 AST
Nate- 13.5 PPG (39.7 FG%) - 9.8 REB - 3.2 AST
Nate is one of the best defenders at the center position and he would definitely give issues to Wilt. Though heís not a great offensive threat, he would force Wilt into some off nights in this series and disrupt San Joseís offense.
Off the bench, we can plug in a plethora of guys who all can perform their roles very well. BJ Armstrong is a great off-ball PG to go along with Kobe, Penny and Lever. He can shoot the lights out (44% 3P %). Fat Lever can play both guard positions and is a guy who could go for a triple double any night in his prime. He averaged 19.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 7.4 APG in his peak three years and was an All-Defensive Team member. The guy is a jack of all trades and is an ideal sixth man for our team. At SF, we can plug in either McCray or Wesley Person. Person provides a great three point threat (41% 3P %) while McCray is a very strong defender (2x All-Defensive Team). Our primary big man off the bench will be the athletic Antonio McDyess. McDyess provides a big with a good midrange game, great athleticism, strong defense and good rebounding. He didnít have great longevity, but in his prime he was a very good power forward. We will also be seeing spurs of Mehmet Okur, who can space the floor at the center position (40 3P %) and bring San Joseís center out to the perimeter where he feels uncomfortable. We will also see a bit of Caldwell Jones if Nate is in foul trouble. Jones is a very strong defender (2x All-Defensive Team) and could board with the best of them.
This is a very close matchup, but Roshtown has assembled their team for matchups like these. The main reasons why Roshtown would win:
1. Penny Hardaway and Kobe Bryant cannot be contained by this San Jose backcourt
2. Wilt is being guarded by a guy who has limited him before and given him fits
3. Three of San Joseís best players are being guarded by three of the best defenders of all-time (Kobe, Jones, Thurmond)
Roshtown is a nightmare matchup for San Jose. In tough, gritty series like this, I trust Kobe Bryant to lead his team to victory more than I trust Wilt Chamberlain, who always let a less talented Bill Russell get in his way. Both teams are talented, but Roshtownís ability to limit Grant Hill, Dennis Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain is the difference here. Roshtown wins this series.