By Jake Appleman

September boredom exercise: Putting together a team that isn’t unfairly high on talent, but that could win and potentially overachieve. (Note: I did the rough math, and if I calculated correctly, this made-up squad is barely under the cap.) Yes, I’m pretending that I’m a coach and GM–it’s September. Hell, I’d even do it without getting sued!

SF – Tayshaun Prince: A lock-down defender whose presence is felt all over the court, Prince is the epitome of the team structure that defines my squad. Range is the operative word here; his ability to bury the three spreads the defense and his disruptive length helps his team’s D. (Random sidenote: Even though it’s not possible, I’d love to see Tayshaun Prince’s metabolism race Speedy Claxton. My guess is that, if the logistics could somehow be figured out, Speedy wouldn’t stand a chance.)

PF – Udonis Haslem: Rebounding, toughness, defense, hustle and the occasional bucket.

C – Marcus Camby: If Mike Brown has taught aspiring NBA coaches anything, it’s that defense wins ballgames. The length provided by Camby in tandem with Prince would invariably help the team defense and pester opposing offenses looking for easy forays to the rim. Camby’s shot-blocking capability is huge. Because my imaginary squad is susceptible to the dribble-drive from opposing guards, we’d need a presence in the middle and length all around the floor to disrupt flow and force big time ISO scorers (VC/LeBron/Kobe/Paul Pierce) to rethink their plans about routinely driving to the basket. Forcing average-shooting scorers to launch an excess of jumpers is positive for the transition game, not to mention the energy saved on the defensive end.

PG – Jose Calderon: I’d want my point guard to be an extension of my personality and somebody I could trust. Being able communicate on a bi-lingual level would be an asset. Having somebody that could use that gained trust to listen and run an offense while seamlessly helping to execute a gameplan would be essential. An ability to knock down open jumpers and distribute the ball without being overly careless helps too. That’s the kind of guay–intentional Spanish language pun!–I’d like running my show.

SG –Monta Ellis: What the backcourt lacks in size and defensive toughness it makes up for in speed and transitional abilities. Ellis’s boundless energy, athleticism and creativity on the offensive end are welcome additions to a roster full of older, defensive-minded veteran types.

6thAntonio Daniels: Somebody who can defend and split point guard duties; a good chemistry guy that provides veteran leadership and hit the open shot. I like him.

7th Boki Nachbar: He didn’t hit every clutch shot in the playoffs last year, but he’s a solid, hungry contributor. He can stick the 3, take it to the rack and he plays the game the right way. And he speaks better English than some NBA announcers, so communication wouldn’t be a problem.

8thTrevor Ariza: Athleticism, intangibles and he fits into the disruptive length defensive identity of the frontcourt. Ariza is like “Random Task” from Austin Powers in that he’ll do any little thing you need. I bet if I was his NBA coach, I could go up to Trevor Ariza and be like, “Ariza, get me a sausage McMuffin with cheese.” Not only would he immediately sprint off the floor on his way to McDonald’s, he’d steal the ball on his way out the door. That’s the kind of guy I want on my team.

9thJeff Green: Given the potential for injury, this squad needs a savvy rookie that can step in and fill up a stat sheet. Green fits that bill.

10thJeff Foster: At over 16 boards per 48, he’d fill in off the bench nicely.

11thLeon Powe: Provides depth in the frontcourt; knows his role.

12thChris Richard: Comes from a winning tradition where he was overshadowed by his teammates. Sounds like the ideal end to my bench.

Team Strengths: Balance; Interior defense; Experience; Transition offense; Depth

Team Weaknesses: Injury potential; No go-to guy; Late game offense; Old legs; Inexperienced coach.

Keeping my basic–if very rough–guidelines in mind, who would you pick?