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Breaking down picks for NBA Popularity pool

MJ vs. LeBron? T-Mac or VC? Who would you want in crunch time? We look at the most logical choices for DraftKings Sportsbook’s NBA pool.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James looks to move the ball in the second half a Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center.  Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re like me, right now has got to be pretty difficult for you. The NBA hasn’t played a game in almost a full week and all of us are feeling the affects of withdrawal hard core. I’ve got good news though, DraftKings Sportsbook is offering an NBA popularity pool and it’s pretty simple. Pick which answer you believe will be the most popular among participants in the pool. Try to nail as many as possible for a prize pool of $25,000.

Since I can’t give out DFS and betting advice for basketball, I’ll take anything to escape the insanity that is a world without hoops. Here are my picks for the NBA Popularity pool.

Who would win a 1-on-1 in their prime?

  • Michael Jordan
  • LeBron James

Next question.

Who was the better 3-point shooter in their prime?

  • Ray Allen
  • Reggie Miller
  • Steph Curry

Is it weird that it’s Steph and it’s not even close? Maybe it’s a bit of recency bias but I can’t find an argument for Reggie or Ray — both Hall of Famers. Ray helped a lot of teams win ships but never carried one to a few like Curry did. If Curry in his prime is 2015-16 that’s 402 treys made. Allen’s highest in a season was 269 and Miller’s was 229. I get it, different era and all but Curry shot 45% from 3 that season.

Who was the better player in their prime?

  • Tracy McGrady
  • Vince Carter

This is a tough one. Best in their prime I lean T-Mac. McGrady’s best season was in 2002-03 with the Magic. He led the League in scoring at 32.1 points per game. I think VC’s prime is when he was with the New Jersey Nets in the mid-2000s, but you could argue early years in Toronto. Carter became a better passer and was consistently in the playoffs. In 2005-06, VC averaged 29.6 points in the postseason. T-Mac’s teams were never successful in the playoffs. Maybe that bumps up VC? I feel like McGrady was a top 5 player, arguably the scorer in the NBA at one point. I don’t think Carter was ever placed in those categories.

Who was the best dunker in their prime?

  • Aaron Gordon
  • Dr. J
  • Vince Carter

This one is definitely VC. It took like me two of his top 10 dunks to make that decision. Gordon is sick, Dr. J is a legend. Carter had disgusting dunks, but I feel like his attitude after each slam is what separates him from Gordon and Julius Irving. Here just watch his 2000 dunk contest. “It’s ooooover!!”

Who would you rather give the ball to in crunch time?

  • Kobe Bryant
  • Michael Jordan
  • LeBron James

Again, next question. Seriously though, it’s Michael Jordan. You take MJ. All three have hit big shots in their careers. I’d lean Kobe over LeBron but MJ is ahead of both by a decent margin for me. Most of the time MJ wasn’t playing in crunch time because the Bulls were up big. Are we also talking both sides of the ball? Jordan was the best defender of this trio as well.

Who is the best scorer of all time?

  • Allen Iverson
  • James Harden
  • Kobe Bryant

See, this is tough. Recency bias would say James Harden. He’s scoring at a rate nobody has ever seen. It’s sort of how the game right now is played. Not to take anything away from Harden, but he’d have a tougher time in Kobe and AI’s era. If we’re talking who can get a bucket the easiest? I’m sort of feeling Iverson. I think in a popularity contest its Harden or Kobe, but my brain is just replaying AI’s crossover on Jordan over and over.

Which team was the best?

I wish I could see the reaction on every Boston fans face when they see the 1985-86 Celtics didn’t make the cut. I think they should be on this list over the 00-01 Lakers, though. It’s the Bulls again. MJ. Scottie Pippen. Phil Jackson. D-Rod. Again, I’m a little bias because this was my team, but I think Chicago beats each of the teams listed above in a 7-game series. Depends if there are more recent fans, fans putting bias aside, etc. A lot of factors to consider, but Bulls feels like the pick.

Who is the best player to never win a NBA Championship?

  • Charles Barkley
  • Grant Hill
  • Karl Malone
  • Patrick Ewing
  • Steve Nash

My only reasoning for going with Barkley is that he’s on TV right now. Grant Hill and Steve Nash I think are below The Mailman and Patrick Chewing. Malone was a 14x All-Star, 4x All-Defensive team, 2x MVP and 2x ASG MVP. No one else listed above has the resume Malone had. Ewing had his shot at a title and the Knicks blew it. Nash never made it that far (which is nuts). Malone put up a better fight than Chuck against Jordan. The Mailman is the answer, I think Barkley could be the pick.

Who is the best historical duo?

  • Stock & Malone
  • LeBron & D-Wade
  • Magic & Kareem
  • MJ & Scottie
  • Shaq & Kobe

I’m going to first eliminate LeBron and D-Wade from the running. No offense to them, but I don’t think they played together long enough and at a high level to be considered. I feel like the answer is Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Showtime Lakers won five ships. Magic won MVPs, Kareem won MVPs. I think those two players are both top 10 of all-time. Nothing against Scottie Pippen, but Jordan did most of the heavy lifting for the Bulls. Shaq and Kobe were pretty even throughout their time together, both Hall of Famers, both all-timers. Can’t put them ahead of Magic and Kareem. John Stockton and Karl Malone if they ever beat MJ.

Who is the best current duo?

  • Kawhi & PG-13
  • KD & Kyrie
  • LeBron & AD
  • Russ & Harden

KD and Kyrie haven’t played a game together and I’m excluding them from contention. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George hasn’t reached its peak yet, which I think will happen in the postseason. But for now, I don’t think they are ahead of LeBron and Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

It’s LeBron and AD for me. Both are in the MVP conversation. AD is going to win Defensive Player of the Year probably. The Lakers are running away with what is a very competitive and tough Western Conference. Harden and Russ don’t exactly bring out the best in each others games, it’s more of a “who has the hot hand?” situation. Overall, LeBron and AD is No. 1.

Who would you rather build your team around?

  • Ja Morant
  • Jayson Tatum
  • Luka Doncic
  • Trae Young
  • Zion Williamson

The top two are gone by process of elimination. Both Morant and Tatum aren’t as exciting, don’t have high ceilings really. Tatum is probably playing the best basketball he ever will play right now. Morant isn’t the prototypical PG you build around. Doncic or Young are those prototypes. In the League today, it’s between Doncic and Young. Nothing against Zion, but I could see an undersized PF who has already had some injuries pop up becoming a liability down the road. Young and Doncic appear locked into long, successful careers. Gimme Doncic given his size and ability to play pretty much every position.

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