What if Teams Could Take 1 Player From the Team They Eliminated? 


Imagine if the NBA adopted a rule that would be activated during the playoffs.

This new rule? Allow winning teams to acquire a player from the team they knocked out of the playoffs and keep them for the remainder of the playoffs.

In each subsequent playoff series, the newly developed rosters would overflow with talent, and each matchup would be even more captivating for viewers. This year’s playoffs consisted of teams with multiple All-Stars and exceptional players who dominated in their own right, but if paired with other players, they would be lethal.

Let’s see what this would look like in the Western Conference.

Western Conference Playoffs Round 1

Oklahoma Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans (Thunder won 4-0) 

Led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Oklahoma City Thunder are a talented, young team that made it to the top of the West this past regular season.

The Thunder have built a solid team with their star roster and excellent offensive and defensive ratings. Although the Thunder had a fantastic run this season, they could utilize another driving force that attacks the rim.

Pairing Chet Holmgren with Zion Williamson would make the team impossible to guard. When Williamson is healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with. This season, across every team’s last five games, Williamson was the sixth-leading scorer in the league while leading the league in high-volume offensive plays (minimum 40 field goals made) and field-goal percentage (66.3).

With the addition of Williamson, the Thunder would have a complete backcourt of SGA, Josh Giddey and sharpshooters consisting of Jalen Williams and Luguentz Dort. Holmgren would play as the power forward to accompany Williamson as the center. The Thunder would make it difficult for opponents to have the ability to defend against their height, shooting and strength.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks (Mavericks won 4-2) 

After acquiring Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington, the Dallas Mavericks became one of the toughest teams in the West.

Before the trade, the Mavs ranked at the bottom of the list in defense, opponents’ field-goal percentage, and opponents’ field-goal percentage at the rim. After, the Mavs improved to seventh in defensive rating, third in opponents’ field-goal percentage, and first in opponents’ field-goal percentage at the rim.

The chemistry between Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving is why the Mavs have been highly successful. Despite this, Dallas struggles to maintain scoring momentum when the pair are on the bench.

The addition of Russell Westbrook would strengthen the team’s second unit. Westbrook opted to come off the bench for the Clippers this past season, which strengthened the team. Westbrook’s contagious energy, playmaking abilities and attacking mindset kept the second team going when the starters took their breaks.

Westbrook’s addition would solidify the Mavs’ second team alongside Maxi Kleber, Jaden Hardy, Josh Green and Dante Exum. The Mavs would become an even more entertaining team to watch as the postseason would continue. 

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns (Timberwolves won 4-0) 

The Minnesota Timberwolves had an incredible run this year with Anthony Edwards leading the way.

Edwards demonstrated what we would see from him this season while playing for the USA FIBA team last summer. Although the Timberwolves worked well together and were a top-ranked defense, they still needed an extra piece. With his scoring ability, versatility and experience, Kevin Durant would enhance the Wolves in multiple ways.

Pairing Edwards with Durant would make one of the most challenging offensive threats in the West. These players are respected for their offense, as they averaged 25.9 (Edwards) and 27.1 (Durant) points per game this season. With his ability to play positions from small forward to center, Durant can play alongside the Wolves’ bigs of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.

He can defend, pass and handle the ball to create open shots for himself and his teammates. Lastly, Durant’s defensive gravity would open up shots for other players on the team. His experience would benefit the team’s young core as they would have a leader who knows what it takes to win a championship.

The Wolves would luck out with the addition of KD. 

Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers  (Nuggets won 4-1) 

Being the reigning champs, the Nuggets were favored to run it back this season according to some.

The team was almost complete with shooters in the wings, people who would attack the paint in Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon, and a superstar center who ran the offense in Nikola Jokic. The only notable missing piece throughout the season was a backup center.

This past season, Jokic averaged 34.6 minutes per contest, which can take a toll. To avoid this, the Nuggets shifted Gordon to center. The 28-year-old had excellent results as a center as the Nuggets outscored their opponents by four points per 100 possessions. Although Gordon did well, obtaining a true center would allow him to fully optimize the Nuggets’ offense.

With the defeat over the Lakers, acquiring Anthony Davis would address this problem.

Davis would benefit the Nuggets in various ways when Jokic is on the bench. Davis’ aggressiveness in the paint on both ends along with his three-point shot would make the Nuggets one of the best teams. Davis in Denver would make it nearly impossible for opposing teams to defend Murray, Gordon, Jokic and Michael Porter Jr.

In turn, it would allow Jokic to take breaks, leading to less fatigue, better playmaking and increased effectiveness in all areas.

Western Conference Semifinals

The new hypothetical NBA rule goes in effect for this series. Newly developed teams would debut. 

The first match-up would be the Oklahoma City Thunder facing the Dallas Mavericks.

Russell Westbrook would appear as a Dallas Maverick for the first time alongside Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving. Westbrook’s energy and defensive skills would be paired against the acquired Thunder player, Zion Williamson, who is both offensively and defensively aggressive.

Unfortunately for the Oklahoma City Thunder, so far during the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks have scored higher in both scoring and defense.

As a result, this series will come down to how successful the Thunder can be on both ends of the court.  

The second match-up is the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets.

The Timberwolves would have the offensive threat of Kevin Durant. His scoring abilities, along with that of Anthony Edwards, would be one that the Nuggets will have to strategically figure out how to defend.

On the other hand, the Nuggets have a massive advantage in the paint with the addition of Anthony Davis. With his presence in the paint, the Timberwolves will have trouble with having their shots blocked, rebounding and second-chance points.

Both teams have a top-rated defensethe series will go to the team that is able to out-perform the other offensively. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks (Mavericks won 4-2) 

The Thunder versus the Mavericks was an epic battle between Shai and Luka.

Compared consistently, all eyes were on these two players to end the comparison and crown a winner. Unfortunately for the Thunder, the Mavericks were more than prepared to take over the series. Not only was Luka Magic on full display, but Dallas’ role players were more than holding down their own.

P.J. Washington with his three-point shooting, Dereck Lively II with his two-way paint domination, and Derrick Jones Jr.’s scoring and defense on SGA throughout the series helped secure the win over Oklahoma City.

With the Mavs’ victory, the acquisition of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would intensify the backcourt of Dončić and Irving. Regularly, Dončić has had to take over the game on his own. Although Irving has relieved some of this workload, he has had his shares of disappearing when needed most.

SGA would be the perfect pairing alongside Doncic. With Doncic’s defensive gravitational pull, Gilgeous-Alexander will have the opportunity for many open looks and vice versa.

As Dallas already has a well-rounded team, adding Gilgeous-Alexander will solve the Mavericks’ last missing piece. 

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Denver Nuggets (Timberwolves won 4-3)  

The young Timberwolves against the reigning champ Nuggets was predicted to be an entertaining matchup.

Both teams gave it their all, forcing the series to go seven games. It was only fitting that Game 7 had fans at the edge of their seats until the last second. As Edwards struggled to find his rhythm, the Nuggets dominated the Timberwolves by fifteen points at the half.

Unfortunately for the Nuggets, the second half was a different story. The Timberwolves came back, led by Edwards, and defeated the reigning champs to advance to the Western Conference Finals. 

The Timberwolves are a solid team with remarkable runs in the last two seasons. Their team chemistry has bolstered their offensive and defensive ratings. However, they need more aggressiveness from players in the paint.

The acquisition of Aaron Gordon would address this issue. Gordon is known to attack the paint. In addition, he has a nice jump shot and three-point abilities. Playing alongside Towns, Gobert and Edwards would give Gordon the flexibility to play in the paint or around the arc.

With Edwards’ defensive pull, Gordon would be a lob threat and have open shots around the perimeter.

Being a top-rated defensive team, the Wolves would feel like home for Gordon.

Western Conference Finals

The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks will go head-to-head in this final Western Conference series with their pair of acquired stars.  

The Mavericks have acquired Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and the Timberwolves have Aaron Gordon available on their roster. As these two players are exceptional in their own right, playing alongside their All-Star teammates would make both these teams tough to beat.

Luka Dončic and Kyrie Irving having Gilgeous-Alexander and Russell Westbrook on the bench would optimize their defense and scoring abilities with the second team. Conversely, the Timberwolves have competitive players in the paint with Gordon and Anthony Davis alongside their defensive, existing roster.

This series promises to be a thrilling showdown as the two now super teams face off. Despite the Mavericks ranking second in both scoring and defense, the Timberwolves, sitting in a close third, are not far behind. The recent acquisitions by the Mavericks have leveled the playing field, making these teams almost equal in terms of talent and skill. This parity sets the stage for an intense and closely contested series. 

In the end, this series will be won by the most well-rounded team, which has the best team chemistry and can dominate both ends of the court.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks (Mavericks won 4-1)  

Both of these teams have had an excellent run during their previous two playoff series, and there was no clear bet on who would win this one.

One thing was for certain: no one expected the Mavericks to defeat the top-seeded Timberwolves four games to one.

During this series, the Timberwolves looked different compared to how they played during their previous two. Edwards stated during his post-game interview,We never clicked all together as a team in this series. Not even one game.

The Western Conference Champs were ultimately gentleman-swept by the Celtics. A player from the T-Wolves that would strengthen the Mavs’ championship pursuit would have been KAT.

Adding Towns to the roster would add scoring, height and strength to Dallasstarting frontcourt. Towns is one of nine members in NBA history to be in the 50-40-90 club (50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free-throw line).

Although Dallas already has centers in Gafford and Lively, Towns could be deployed at the four to buff their offensive threat, making them an unfathomable threat to win an NBA title.

About Guadalupe Maravilla

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