The perfect roster

The optimal 2013-14 squad under a GM's salary constraints

Updated: April 15, 2014, 12:05 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

LeBron JamesNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesLeBron James anchors the 2013-14 season's perfect NBA roster.

Here's a different kind of All-NBA team: One that could actually exist, and probably does if you believe in the theory of the multiverse. To build this team, we're going to consider the actual roles a typical roster needs filled, and we're going to operate under the same salary constraints as an NBA general manager, though in this case we'll let him spend up to the tax apron of $75.7 million. In fact, the roster we've compiled would cost about $75.2 million in 2013-14 salary.

This 14-man All-NBA team not only recognizes some of the best and varied role players who populate the NBA, but also appreciates those who provide fair value in terms of salary. Fit is essential, so the type of players higher on the roster hierarchy will impact the kind of players we slot lower down.

James

Foundation Player: LeBron James

Kevin Durant is the deserved MVP this season, but if we were drafting the NBA from scratch right now, who would the team with the top pick select? The answer to that hypothetical question no longer defaults to James. Nevertheless, you can't surpass a player who has been the best in the game for so long based on one season. Think of it like this: In 1997, Karl Malone outpointed Michael Jordan in the MVP balloting. Did that mean he had surpassed Jordan as the game's best player? That's why James gets the nod.

Love

Running Mate: Kevin Love

Love deserves to be recognized for the expansion of his game this season. He's as lethal as ever from deep, but also has been very good on the block, in passing the ball and as an elite rebounder. As a running mate for James, it's a perfect skill set. Love's 19.8 WARP ranks behind only Durant and James. And, not for nothing, Love's price tag of $14.7 million for this season is appropriate for a second star on a championship roster.