Retired players who would thrive in today's NBA

Amit Mann is joined by Esfandiar Baraheni to discuss retired basketball players who had their primes between 2000-10 that would be great fits in the modern style of the NBA. Listen to the full episode touching on takeaways from the Raptors at Rico Hines runs on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: OK. The game that Es has helped me decide we are going to do is he made a tweet a couple of days ago and he was essentially saying that Boris Diaw was a person he thought would be really cool in the modern NBA. So I thought, ooh, that's fun.

Let's look at three players in the 2000 to 2010 era who had their primes in that time of the NBA and talk about why they would be so successful in today's NBA, because it's a very different game. So I got three names, Es has three names. Sir, after you.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: OK. Well, we talked about this a little bit offline, but there's a guy that I feel like is a very clear choice as a Raptor for who-- a guy who might be, like, a top-10 player in today's NBA, and that is Chris Bosh.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: And, look, Raptors fans have their gripes with Chris Bosh and how he left and whatnot. But at the same time, I think 100% if you look at the way he played, especially the way he was kind of developing at the tail end of his career as this three-point shooter, as this guy who was, like, this all-around creator, stretch four type, stretch five type, Chris Bosh would genuinely be one of the best players in the NBA today if he played now, especially because his defensive prowess was also getting better throughout his career.

It's so unfortunate that his career was cut short, because I do think in that, like, tail end of his prime, he really could have made some big money just being that stretch four, stretch five type-- the space the floor, block shots on the other end, weak side rim protector, all that stuff-- that is Chris Bosh. And not to mention when he was with the Raptors, he was a pretty good creator for himself.

Like, he had that mid-range pull-up that he went to, the little jab step and pull up. Like, that's some patent Chris Bosh stuff. So yeah, I think Chris Bosh is a pretty easy answer here for that prime-- picking him in there.

AMIT MANN: No, man, I don't blame you with that one. I thought you were going to go-- I wasn't expecting Chris Bosh. But it makes sense. Like, I don't know why it didn't come to mind that you were going to say him.

But you know, like, I love Chris Bosh's game. I think he was before his time in a lot of ways, right? We talked about Jonas Valanciunas being before his time, or after his time, because of the way the NBA pivoted, Chris Bosh, like, he would be a monster in today's NBA.

He could be the do it all player-- he could be a true, like, franchise cornerstone, right? And there were questions when he left the Raptors, like, was he that guy? Could he be that guy, even though he had just put up, like, 24 points per game and 12 rebounds on, like, 50% shooting-- we were questioning, like, can he be that guy? No, his team sucked.

That's what happened. That's why things didn't go very well. But he was finding his rhythm as a three-point shooter. He had bulked up a little bit, but he was still very fast. And that's like your sweet spot. Like, you think about what Giannis is now-- I'm not saying they're comparable, but, like, strength and speed-- that combination.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Physicality wise.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. Yeah. And size, and then you add in his three-point shot, he had a true pick and pop game, which is actually one of the more unstoppable things in today's NBA because of the spacing. You can see that high pick and roll with insert point guard here-- like, what are you going to do, you know?

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Yeah, imagine if Chris Bosh was on today's Raptors team-- pick and roll with Fred. Fred, you pop, right? He's wide open at the top. Bang. Like, it would be bread and butter at that point.

AMIT MANN: I know. Jorge--


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: I knew you were going to say Jorge. I'm sorry, go ahead.

AMIT MANN: Jorge Garbajosa. So I'm saying him because, one, you know his game. It fits perfectly in today's NBA. But also, the way things ended for him, he had such a short time in the NBA because of the injury that he suffered. But you look at his ability to, one, protect the rim in his own way-- he had great feet, he could guard on the perimeter, he could dribble the ball, he could hit shots.

He was your prototypical-- like maybe he could play five, but he was a four in today's NBA, but he could also guard down to twos and threes. And he could be a monster. He would be so well paid. And he had that, like, look about him. He was a 30-year-old rookie. I loved it.

And he was a very smart player too. You could trust him to make the right pass. So that's the name that came to mind for me.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: I love the Jorge pick. I think he would be, like, one of the more-- like, we say three and D, but, like, he wouldn't be a three and D, necessarily, but he would fit in that-- he's like a Swiss army knife on offense and defense. He could do a lot of everything. A guy that kind of comes to mind in a similar vein is Andre Kirilenko, AK-47.

AMIT MANN: Oh, I thought about him too. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: I think-- I mean, in, like, a similar vein to Jorge Garbajosa, you know, he could do a little bit of everything on offense but he was also this utility knife on defense. He could guard multiple positions. And in this, like, positionless basketball era that we play in, he would fit in perfectly. He could play a little bit of small ball five, play the four, play the three, even switch out and guard some twos and ones-- so, like, that's the exact type of player you need. And, like, his defense was just insane to think about. So yeah, AK-47 up there for me.

AMIT MANN: Great one. This is a bit of a-- it doesn't really fit the names that we've talked about so far, but hear me out-- the great Bill Russell, right? He said this quote-- at the end of the day, this game is about getting buckets.


AMIT MANN: So I am saying Gilbert Arenas.


AMIT MANN: Yeah. Right? Like, you think about how elite he was as a scorer-- he was a 35 piece game in, game out for, like, years. He was so gifted. And it didn't matter where he was on the court, it was pull up threes, it was catch and shoot threes, it was stepback threes.

He had a scoring ability, and he did not care about passing. That's fine. He could just go out there-- and you know in today's NBA, he could get you 40 any given night. And probably in most cases, he might get you 40. He is one of those guys where you hear retired players and they're saying, I can get 40 in today's NBA, it'd be so easy-- he would get 40 every single game, because he was that good as-- and he could drive to the basket, and he could finish around the rim, and he had, like, a mid-range game. He would be unstoppable because of the spacing in today's NBA.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: What we see in, like, a Damian Lillard now is what you could have seen if Gilbert Arenas played in this era. I totally agree with that. It's an unconventional pick, but, like, there's no question that he would dominate in this era, just because of how many pick and rolls teams run nowadays, how much space there is, how much more just, like, in general, how much more guys shoot.

Like, I would be curious to see how many three-point attempts was, like, Gilbert Arenas' career high compared to what, like, the average is for, like, a Damian Lillard now. Damian Lillard-- even Fred VanVleet, he'll attempt, like, 10. I think he attempted 10 last year.

Gilbert Arenas' career high, and this is actually pretty good-- for 2006-2007-- is eight. He attempted three-- he attempted eight three-point attempts a game in the 2006-2007 season, which is probably-- it probably was near a league high at the time. So yeah, I mean, expand that out to 2021 and Gilbert would be insane.

AMIT MANN: And he had range too. He had range. And he had range. He could shoot from 30 feet. He would be that guy, and then the downhill speed. He would have been really sweet. OK, your next name.


AMIT MANN: Yeah. Hibachi.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: I got to say-- this guy is probably in a similar vein to the Jorge Garbajosas, to the AK-47s. But I do think-- and he would fit really well on the Raptors too, at least with the ethos of what the Raptors are-- Lamar Odom. I really do think Lamar Odom--

AMIT MANN: I had the same name.



ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Lamar Odom would be, like-- look, he could make plays. He could defend. He was, like, this 6'7, 6'8, 6'9 point guard. So he was really, really incredible at, like, having a vision. He was great in transition. So, like, a lot of the things that the Raptors actually do, in a lot of ways, he would just be, like, a prototype of the Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, the Dalano Banton type.


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: But yeah, I think Lamar Odom would be absolutely insane in today's NBA.

AMIT MANN: Guard tendencies. He really did move like a guard. And that's the separator for me is that he was so fluid in his movements-- you could see with a Pascal, with an OG, and even a Scottie is that they do look like big players, right? They can do a lot of things, to their credit. But they don't move as fluidly as, like, a wide receiver when they're running.

But Lamar Odom, he looks like a wide receiver when he's running. Chris Nachu actually is a person that comes to mind that looks like wide receiver when he's running, because he's got that natural athletic ability. But with the ball, he was so quick, he had those long strides.

He can get in the paint. He had a pull-up that was beautiful. He was a Swiss army knife, man. He was-- the ways you could weaponize him in today's NBA as a post-up player, pull-up player, mid-range, catch and shoot, above the break, in pick and roll, as a screener--

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Yeah, oh my god. Imagine Lamar Odom on the short roll, like, a lot of that-- it would-- it would be a lot of fun to watch Lamar Odom. Those are a couple of guys that I think-- like, I think all the guys we picked right there would just translate so well into today's NBA.