If A-League clubs were NBA Franchises

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Have you ever wondered which NBA franchise your favourite A-League team would be?

With the NBA Playoffs heating up, and the A-League finals series around the corner, we take a look at every A-League club and decide which NBA franchise they most-closely resemble.

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Adelaide United – Boston Celtics

Each one of their respective leagues’ most historically successful teams (if you include Adelaide’s FFA Cup wins), the Boston Celtics are the NBA franchise which most closely resembles Adelaide United.

Both managing to consistently field at least reasonably competitive sides, while also both having won silverware in recent memory, it does need to be mentioned that much of both teams’ success has come in the formative years of their respective leagues.

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Adelaide’s pedigree as a footballing city – much like Boston’s pedigree as a basketball city – is at times under-rated; this despite the city continuing to punch above its weight when producing quality players.

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Brisbane Roar – Dallas Mavericks

Both consistently successful teams in their respective leagues. Both led to championship glory by the best German-born players their leagues have ever seen. Both facing difficulty staying competitive now their German talismans have retired.

There are a few similarities here.

The Dallas Mavericks’ plan for the future is set in stone – talented young core of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis firmly in place.

Brisbane’s is slightly murkier. Fresh off a near-comprehensive cleanout of this season’s squad, we’ll have to wait for the team to be rebuilt by new head coach Robbie Fowler before making any judgements on the Roar’s short-term competitive trajectory.

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Central Coast Mariners – Cleveland Cavaliers

The Central Coast Mariners and Cleveland Cavaliers share similarly tragic stories.

Both were highly competitive sides in the recent past, producing some of the best talent their leagues have ever seen.

Both managed to win Championships before their best players left for pastures new.

Both are now among the worst teams in their league – poor management decisions and publicly-maligned owners often seen as the root cause of their problems.

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Melbourne City – Los Angeles Clippers

Both living in the shadow of the over-achieving step-siblings they share stadiums with, it’s hard not to see some parity between Melbourne City and the Los Angeles Clippers.

It’s only recently that both have managed to one-up their hometown rivals – the Clippers’ most competitive years ever coming during the Lakers’ post-Kobe struggles, and Melbourne City managing to finish above Melbourne Victory twice in the past five years.

Despite the deep pockets of both clubs’ owners, neither have any silverware to show for it as of yet.

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Melbourne Victory – Los Angeles Lakers

Melbourne Victory and the Los Angeles Lakers are both arguably their leagues’ cornerstone franchises – both also amongst the most historically successful in their leagues.

Each’s most recent seasons share interesting similarities; both have lured in superstar free agents in their most recent off-seasons, only to fall short of their overall competitive goals.

It would be unfair to not mention that Melbourne still have the A-League Championship to play for, as well as the fact they’ve had a more successful season – relatively – than the Lakers have (their superstar signing LeBron James missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2004/05 NBA season).

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Newcastle Jets – Detroit Pistons

Ever since experiencing championship success last decade, both the Newcastle Jets and Detroit Pistons have largely been mired in mediocrity.

This isn’t entirely of their own making – it’s often hard for franchises in small market, blue collar cities to compete with their more metropolitan brethren.

While there’s a hard ceiling on how successful either can be with their current squads, there has been at least some success to speak of in the last two seasons-or-so.

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Perth Glory – Milwaukee Bucks

Much like the last comparison, the Perth Glory and the Milwaukee Bucks are another set of franchises which always seemed to be mired in mediocrity – until now!

It’s been a slow build-up for both sides, but the most recent tweaks both have made to surround their respective talismans (Diego Castro & Giannis Antetokounmpo) with the support they need has paid off big.

For Perth, the addition of Tony Popovic was the final masterstroke needed to bring the Western Australian club its first-ever A-League Premiership.

For Milwaukee, the addition of complementary pieces like Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova and Nikola Mirotic (as well as the further development of established stars), has helped them to the best Eastern Conference record this season, and a realistic shot at an NBA title.

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Sydney FC – Golden State Warriors

Sydney FC and the Golden State Warriors have both fielded their competitions’ most over-powered teams in recent memory.

Sydney from 2016 to 2018 are consensually the best team the A-League has ever seen – winning consecutive A-League Premierships, a Championship, and an FFA Cup while posting recording-setting points tallies for the league.

The Golden State Warriors have been the NBA’s de-facto team to beat since 2015, when they won their first of three NBA championships – the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers the only team to have bested them since that year.

While both facing stiffer competition from other franchises in recent seasons, Sydney and Golden State are still incredibly dangerous sides with absolute gluts of attacking talent.

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Wellington Phoenix – Brooklyn Nets

The Wellington Phoenix and Brooklyn Nets were the surprise package of their respective leagues’ seasons – Wellington booking in only their fifth A-League finals appearance ever; Roy Krishna racing away to win the 2018/19 Golden Boot, with the likes of Sarpreet Singh and David Williams making important contributions.

Conversely, the Brooklyn Nets – a near-universal laughing stock in the NBA – shocked everyone by claiming a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, largely helped by a breakout season from their offensive juggernaut of a point guard, D’Angelo Russell.

Both have been humbled in recent weeks – Brooklyn knocked out of the playoffs by Ben Simmons’ Philadelphia 76ers, and Wellington suffering a poor run of form into the A-League Finals.

Regardless the result, this should not detract from what has been – relatively – an excellent season for both franchises.

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Western Sydney Wanderers – Chicago Bulls

While the Western Sydney Wanderers are obviously a much younger franchise than the Chicago Bulls, the falls from grace both have suffered since success early this decade have many similarities.

The Western Sydney Wanderers tasted success quickly entering the A-League in 2012 – winning a premiership in their debut season, before becoming the only A-League club to win an Asian Champions League in 2014.

The Chicago Bulls had arguably the best team in the NBA at the turn of the decade – their hard-nosed defence and superstar point guard Derrick Rose making them hard to beat; a career-altering knee injury Rose suffered in the 2012 playoffs prematurely ending the chances of what should have been a championship-winning team.

While the Wanderers don’t have a single franchise-changing moment like Rose’s injury to speak of, they’ve fallen off a bit since their ACL triumph.

Conversely, the Bulls have never been the same since Rose’s injury – they’re currently rebuilding their roster after a lengthy bout of competitive mediocrity.

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Ben Paynter
Loves Brisbane. Loves a pint. Loves a 'Kevin Muscat Bad Tackle' YouTube compilation.