One of the summer exercises spreading around the Interwebs these days is drafting lists of players or musicians to create auction drafts, exactly what one site did with for the Texas Longhorns basketball team during the Rick Barnes era:
To dispense with initial concerns, the site did acknowledge that there was some movement of certain players to better fill out the list and set the ground rule that the draft is for the best season that player had at Texas, not anything before or after, even in the NBA.
For easy comparison purposes, the post also provided handy charts that features the best season averages for each player.
Here's my list.
Point guard -- TJ Ford
It's hard not to go with the best player in Texas basketball history, with apologies to Kevin Durant about that distinction. Ford will be the focal point of the offense who can break down opposing defenses and score efficiently while still setting up the best scorer to play for Rick Barnes. His lightning-quick penetration ability will set the table for the offense and his ability to make opposing point guards pay for a loose handle or impact passing games with his quickness will produce several fast breaks per game.
Shooting guard -- Avery Bradley
Without having seen Kris Clack play and not knowing how he would contribute to the team, it's hard to make the decision to pick the bigger finisher here -- it just doesn't seem like an honest pick. Additionally, Bradley is an extraordinary value here because of his defense, athleticism, and ability to knock down some shots, even though he wasn't the most consistent deep threat during his time in burnt orange. Extensive time working on his jump shot had made it something of an asset from the corner and the mid-range by the time that he arrived at Texas.
Small forward -- Brandon Mouton
Perhaps the most undervalued player on the list, Mouton was a more-than capable scorer for the Horns and hit some big shots in the 2003-04 season as the late-game option. Efficient and rangy as a shooter, he can provide another perimeter scoring threat for this team that's necessary since Bradley and Ford aren't great from distance.
A great value and a great fit -- what's better than that?
Power forward -- Kevin Durant
The combination of Ford and Durant significantly reduces the rest of the available budget, but that doesn't matter much because the most important thing after that is to fill in with complementary players. Durant's incredible range from behind the three-point line and versatile game reduces pressure on the shooting guard and center positions to produce at a high level.
In late-game situations, he can iso to take the last shot or work in an indefensible pick-and-roll combination with TJ.
Plus, it's KD. I mean, no further explanation necessary, right?
Center -- Tristan Thompson
The decision here was essentially to take Thompson and use up all the money or take Cameron Ridley and have a dollar left over. There are some arguments for taking Ridley because his low-post game and free-throw shooting ability are both better than Thompson, but the athletic Canadian eventually won out because of his proficiency in transition and overall mobility that makes him a better candidate to defend pick-and-roll and the wider variety of college centers that the team would presumably face.
The biggest concern with this team is having only two shooters on the perimeter instead of three, potentially a major problem if it comes up against the best five from Jim Boeheim's time at Syracuse, as Ford's team did during the Final Four run in 2003.
Countering that is the penetration ability of Ford and the credible 37.5% three-point shooting from Braldey during his lone season in Austin and the defensive acumen of Bradley and Thompson. Throw in Durant and suddenly the Horns are an incredibly prolific fast-break team that should be able to play better-than-average man-to-man defense.
Fast-paced, long, athletic, and with Mouton as a late-game drive-and-kick option to complement the TJ-KD duo, this team could overwhelm less athletic opponents and make opposing defenses pay for virtually every decision.
Who wouldn't love a team with TJ and KD?
So, Texas basketball fans, which five will you take?