Originally Posted by HardwoodLegend
Duncan instead of Hill.
Another thing I forgot to include in the first post... I wonder if this hypothetical Orlando Magic duo would have had any impact on the Shaq & Kobe relationship. If T-Mac and Duncan somehow proved themselves to be a perennial threat out of the East, I wonder if Kobe would have been more inclined to have a better relationship with Shaq and want him to stick around to contend.
Ok, well then I'd guess they'd get to the finals regularly. Starting with 2001, which was T-Mac's breakout year, you're adding prime Duncan to a team that already won 43 games. I'm guessing they at least challenge Philly for the number 1 seed, and possibly win 60 games. Duncan's presence may have gotten T-Mac to play up to his potential more defensively, especially since T-Mac wouldn't have to carry as much of the offensive load. Then they'd have ROY Mike Miller, and Darrell Armstrong who was a solid point guard at the time. They had some pretty good shooters surrounding Duncan and T-Mac.
I don't think they'd just roll over to the Lakers, but I still have to go with LA. That team was firing on all cylinders, especially with Shaq in peak form, Kobe playing his best all around ball other than possibly '08, Fisher on a hot streak all playoffs ect.
2002 is more interesting because it'd be their second year together and both T-Mac and Duncan got even better. But Darrell Armstrong was aging and Mike Miller was injured for the playoffs. They did have Horace Grant, but I'll still go with LA by a hair. Especially with what the '02 team showed getting by the Kings. Shaq was still the dominant player in the league, Kobe was exceptionally clutch throughout the playoffs and despite Fisher having a terrible run, and Samaki Walker not giving them what Grant had a year earlier, Horry stepped up big with his best run of the 3peat and Fox gave them solid all around play just as he had in 2001. I do see McGrady/Duncan winning 60 games give or take and they could possibly have home court so they'd definitely have a shot.
'03 is where history really may have been altered, imo. I see LA getting to the finals without the Spurs in their way, but they coasted for half this season and seemed kind of worn out after the 3peat. Orlando wouldn't have a great cast around Duncan and T-Mac with this as their lineup.
PG- Jacque Vaughn/34 year old Darrell Armstrong
SF- Rookie Gordan Giricek
PF- Rookie Drew Gooden/PatGarrity
C- Duncan/Andrew DeClercq/310 pound Shawn Kemp(last season)
But Duncan and T-Mac also peaked and were at this point, as good, if not better than the Laker stars. Orlando would be in danger of being the Buffalo Bills of the NBA as well, and they'd almost certainly have HCA so I'd give them this one, especially since the actual champions this year were a Duncan-led team.
They'd have to be considered strong candidates to repeat in '04 as well with the problems LA had, but Detroit can't be slept on. And I'd bet money that T-Mac has a much better season than he actually did in '04 because he'd almost certainly be more motivated and wouldn't want out of Orlando the way he did in '04.
Both T-Mac and Duncan were still in their prime in '05 as well, and a Duncan-led team won that title.
Obviously, it doesn't mean Orlando would have had the same exact cast because with the Magic contending, they'd be a more desirable destination for role players, which is always the case with teams like this. But since we're talking about Duncan replacing Hill, I made it easier and just kept the rest of the casts he same.
This also means Dwight Howard is drafted by a different team. But I see Duncan/T-Mac contending virtually every year, particularly in the East, and as many as 3-4 championships wouldn't surprise me at all, though it's impossible to predict things like that considering how elusive one championship can be.
One possibility that has to be considered though is if T-Mac minds potentially being in Duncan's shadow. He'd have probably been the leading scorer, at least by their 2nd or 3rd year together, but remember that T-Mac didn't seem too fond of playing in Vince Carter's shadow.