The Awful Announcing NBA Announcers Fantasy Draft for 2024.

What if Charles Barkley could share a studio with Stephen A. Smith? What if Kevin Harlan could call games with JJ Redick? What if we could bring pair together Jeff and Stan Van Gundy? This week we asked four of our writers to take part in our first-ever NBA Announcers Fantasy Draft to see what was possible to create.

In building their own network, we asked each writer to select a nine-person roster to create their ultimate NBA Fantasy Network.

2 Play-by-Play Announcers
2 Game Analysts
1 Studio Host
2 Studio Analysts
1 Reporter
1 Wild Card

Who was taken too high? Who was taken too low? Who would you select for your own network? Following the 36 picks below, you can see the complete lineups and decide whose network you would want covering the NBA. No ping pong balls were harmed in the draft lottery, but we do go in serpentine order for the fairest possible results. Unfortunately, Adam Silver was not available for the announcement of the picks, but there’s only so much we can do.

Participants: Brendon Kleen, Ben Axelrod, Brandon Contes, Sean Keeley

Round 1

Charles Barkley makes joke on Inside the NBA
Photo credit: TNT

1) Charles Barkley, Studio Analyst, TNT

The broadcaster most synonymous with the NBA, Chuck is still must watch TV and a great advocate and entertainer for the league even after teasing retirement in recent years. The studio offering is also pretty slim for the NBA, so I’m glad to get an anchor for my team in this slot with the first pick. – Brendon Kleen

2) Stephen A. Smith, Studio Analyst, ESPN

Smith wouldn’t be my overall No. 2 talent, but outside of Barkley, I don’t think there’s anybody who brings to the table what he does. Love him or hate him, Smith is one of the top voices in the industry. And his ability to host if need be is an added bonus. – Ben Axelrod

3) Mike Breen, Play-by-Play, ESPN

Every NBA fan knows Mike Breen for his great calls of big moments in big games. But thanks to decades of calling games for brutal Knicks teams, no elite play-by-play voice in any sport is better at making something out of nothing. No matter the score or matchup, Breen makes the game feel big. – Brandon Contes

4) Ernie Johnson, Studio Host, TNT

The consummate pro. A literal Hall of Famer. No one knows how to wrangle a studio show full of big personalities better. Furthermore, he just seems like a real mensch. – Sean Keeley

Round 2

Jeff Van Gundy
Former ESPN game analyst Jeff Van Gundy called the NBA Finals for almost two decades.

5) Jeff Van Gundy, Game Analyst, Free Agent

The NBA might not appreciate him but you won’t find many analysts out there that make the broadcast as entertaining and illuminating as when JVG is on the call. He’s insightful, isn’t afraid to call out the refs, and has a mix of coaching and broadcasting experience that is almost impossible to teach. – Keeley

6) Shaquille O’Neal, Studio Analyst, TNT

There aren’t many NBA personalities with more star power than Shaq. He brings a willingness and credibility to speak honestly about any team or player and he makes it entertaining. G14 classification. – Contes

7) JJ Redick, Game Analyst, ESPN

I can’t recall a player transitioning into broadcasting as seamlessly as Redick has. He doesn’t have the type of on-court credentials that would make you think he should be calling the NBA Finals and yet here he is. Plus, I’ll gladly take having Redick and Smith on the same team. – Axelrod

8) Kevin Harlan, Play-by-Play, TNT

Few call games of any sport with as much passion as Harlan. At the same time, he has fun with the broadcast and isn’t afraid to joke through an ad read. If you want a legend’s touch on an NBA game, Harlan provides it. – Kleen

Round 3

Oct 22, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; ESPN broadcasters Doris Burke (left) and Ryan Ruocco during the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

9) Doris Burke, Game Analyst, ESPN

It’s always been a marvel how Burke can guide a viewer through a trend in a game so that it builds into crunch time when lo and behold, it helps decide a game. That level of detail and feel only comes from a player’s experience and years in the booth. Burke may be polarizing in some corners of the basketball internet, but she’s among he best at her job, as indicated by her placement on ESPN’s top team. – Kleen

10) Ian Eagle, Play-by-Play, TNT

I think you could make a strong case for Eagle as the top overall play by play announcer and the fact that he’s being picked third speaks to the depth in the field. Nevertheless, it’s hard not to feel good about getting the reigning sportscaster of the year in the third round and I’m more than happy to pair him with Redick on calls. – Axelrod

11) Reggie Miller, Game Analyst, TNT

There’s a reason Reggie Miller has been with TNT for nearly two decades and recently signed a contract that will see his tenure there exceed a quarter century. He’s energetic with honest analysis and a sense of humor that would pair well next to Breen. I also don’t mind an analyst who has the ability to go on a “back in my day” rant, even if I don’t agree with the premise. – Contes

12) Ryan Ruocco, Play-by-Play, ESPN

Do I think Ruocco deserves to be in the mix alongside Breen, Harlan, and Eagle when we talk about great NBA play-by-play announcers? YOU BET! He’s funny, charming, and quick on his feet. I also like that Ruocco is incredibly well-rounded and capable of jumping between sports and topics, which will come in handy. – Keeley

Round 4

Feb 23, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; TNT broadcaster Stan Van Gundy during the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

13) Stan Van Gundy, Game Analyst, TNT

I’m using my second game analyst pick right now because I want to do the thing that NBA fans have been clamoring for, putting the Van Gundy brothers together on the same network. Double the curmudgeon factor but double the credible insight and experience as well. – Keeley

14) Hubie Brown, Game Analyst, ESPN

In a world where Father Time is undefeated, Hubie Brown is defeating Father Time. At 90 years old, not only is Brown sharp and informative, but he’s still working to get better. Best of all, there is no better storyteller, and there is no one with better stories to tell than Hubie Brown. – Contes

15) Richard Jefferson, Game Analyst, ESPN

Much like Redick, Richard Jefferson has enjoyed a rapid rise after transitioning from the court to the booth. So much so that you could have told me that he was the one replacing Doc Rivers on the ESPN A-team and I wouldn’t have batted an eye. This might be a reach considering the talent still on the board and that I already have Redick. But I can’t help that I’m a Cleveland Cavaliers homer. – Axelrod

16) Candace Parker, Studio Analyst, TNT

This is a futures bet as much as a current play. Parker is an absolute natural as part of TNT’s hoops coverage, flexing between Tuesday studio analysis to occasional games and even the NBA dunk contest. Parker is a unique basketball player and never afraid to take risks on or off the court, so it’s no surprise she’s already among the better basketball commentators around. – Kleen

Round 5

Brian Windhorst
Credit: ESPN | Brian Windhorst spoke to GQ Magazine about his legendary day on First Take. It turns out, he’s a big fan of the chairs.

17) Tim Legler, Game Analyst, ESPN

I’m taking a jack of all trades with this pick. Legler can do radio or TV color commentary, operate in short windows on studio shows, or break down games during pre- and postgame shows. On top of that, in the spirit of a modern analyst, the veteran Legler is spreading his wings in the podcast space this year more extensively than most of the media folks drafted here. – Kleen

18) Brian Windhorst, Wild Card, ESPN

I could have given Windhorst a number of roles, including my second analyst spot or the reporter position, but I’d rather free him up to contribute in multiple ways. In fact “Wild Card” might be the best way to describe Windhorst, who isn’t purely a news breaker, nor is he purely a talking head, but he has a way of excelling in whatever position ESPN puts him in. – Axelrod

19) NBA on NBC theme, Wild Card, Fox Sports college basketball

For 90s era NBA fans who fell in love with the sport by watching the likes of Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Kemp, Shaquille O’Neal and others on Sunday afternoons on NBC, this music is everything. John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” is synonymous with great basketball. Great music, great basketball, great broadcast. – Contes

20) Mark Jones, Play-by-Play, ESPN

It’s time to put Mark Jones “on a flight like he’s an IG model.” Just in case a game devolves so poorly that it “looks like LA Fitness at 3 o’clock,” Jones can describe the moment like few others. If nothing else, he’s gonna keep things interesting. When he’s on, he’s “deep in his bag like the fries at the bottom.” – Keeley

Round 6

Taylor Rooks
Jul 26, 2022; New York, NY, USA; Taylor Rooks attends the NYC Point Gods Premiere at The Midnight Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

21) Adrian Wojnarowski, Wild Card, ESPN

If I’m going to have a Wild Card that can serve as both reporter and analyst on my studio crew, it might as well be the ultimate NBA reporter. No one is more locked in than Woj, and his experience on NBA Countdown means he understands how to balance his role as a reporter with the demands of the show. – Keeley

22) Noah Eagle, Play-by-Play, NBC

At 26 years old, Noah Eagle is already as polished as nearly every play-by-play voice in sports. What some claim is a career benefiting from nepotism, I argue is a career benefiting from genetics and inherent passion. Further, the 64-year age gap between Eagle and Hubie Brown will make for a really fun broadcast. – Contes

23) Taylor Rooks, Studio Host, TNT

Taylor Rooks’ star power speaks for itself and while she isn’t a mainstay of Turner’s NBA coverage, she does have a presence on simulcasts and special assignments. You get the sense that she’d be more front and center for the network if she wasn’t being pulled in so many directions with the rest of her career but fortunately, that’s not something I have to worry about in this fantasy draft. – Axelrod

24) Gus Johnson, Play-by-Play, TNT

Johnson is a treat for NBA fans each postseason and he gives me great value this late in the draft. I like the exuberance that rolls over from Harlan on my A-team to Johnson on my B-team, and Johnson remains one of the few broadcasters who adds legit flare to a game. Together with Legler, Johnson gives me a duo that will liven up every game they call and celebrate the game like all broadcasters should. – Kleen

Round 7

Andraya Carter
Andraya Carter on ESPN’s College GameDay before the start of the NCAA college basketball game between the Tennessee Lady Vols and Connecticut Huskies on Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
Gvx Lady Vols Uconn Basketball

25) Andraya Carter, Reporter, ESPN

I personally view Carter as one of the biggest rising stars at ESPN and among its best basketball analysts. In just five years, Carter has gone from game analyst for women’s college hoops on the SEC network to NBA Draft studio coverage, NBA sideline reporting, WNBA Draft reporting, and college football sideline gigs as well. The versatility says enough. That she also can break down Xs and Os fluently and add to my more nerdy network alongside Parker, Legler and Burke only makes her more valuable and worthy of this pick. – Kleen

26) Shams Charania, Reporter, FanDuel

If Woj is the top reporter in the industry, then Shams isn’t far behind and I’d argue he’s more polished on camera than his former mentor. I’m willing to overlook that his reporting cost me money on last year’s NBA Draft, so long as it means my make believe show gets a boost every time our site writes about his flirty relationship with Kay Adams. – Axelrod

27) Chiney Ogwumike, Studio Analyst, ESPN

What Shaq brings to the studio in star power, he often lacks in electricity. Chiney Ogwumike counters that with her energy and enthusiasm. Not only is Ogwumike a great basketball analyst, but she also has the ability to carry a show or play off her co-hosts. She’s the perfect compliment to Shaq in the studio. – Contes

28) Lisa Salters, Reporter, ESPN

A consummate pro, Salters is one of the best courtside reporters working today. I’ve already got Woj as my reporter in the studio, so having Salters on the sidelines where she can get great soundbites and bring veteran credibility to the broadcast is a boon. – Keeley

Round 8

Kendrick Perkins fires back at JJ Redick on First Take

29) Kendrick Perkins, Studio Analyst, ESPN

I want some fun in my studio show and that’s where Perk is gonna come in. I’m not counting on him to get the facts straight (in fact I’m a little concerned about that) but I am counting on him to bring some energy, some wild metaphors, and that delightful WTF factor that every NBA studio show needs. – Keeley

30) Monica McNutt, Reporter, ESPN

It’s probably unfair to call Monica McNutt an emerging star at ESPN. At this point, she has already emerged as one of ESPN’s top basketball personalities. Not only is McNutt an entertaining sideline reporter, but she also brings versatility to the broadcast as a talented game and studio analyst. – Contes

31) Bob Myers, Studio Analyst, ESPN

I feel like it’s kind of flown under the radar that the architect of the greatest post-Bulls dynasty is on ESPN’s studio show now. While he might not be Lightyears Ahead on air yet, I’ll take my chances with his wealth of knowledge regarding Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. At least until he inevitably leaves to rebuild the Lakers. – Axelrod

32) Adam Lefkoe, Studio Host, TNT

Lefkoe is polarizing and maybe there’s something to be said for a studio host laying back more than he does. But Lefkoe is well liked by his TNT teammates and seems to bring good stuff out of everyone, whether that’s the Tuesday or Thursday crew on TNT or on Shaq’s new podcast. Furthermore, Lefkoe doubles as a solid and entertaining sideline reporter to bring more versatility to my crew. – Kleen

Round 9

Draymond Green on his podcast.
Draymond Green on his podcast.

33) Steve Javie’s sandwich, Wild Card, ESPN

Long live the thoroughly mediocre looking, half eaten sub sitting askew near (atop?) the keyboard in Seacaucus a decade ago when Javie was beamed in as a rules analyst on ESPN. Javie is smart but sleepy and every NBA fan is programmed to perk up whenever Javie shows up. But his sandwich is the true star of his broadcasting hustle so far, and it will be a vital part of what my broadcast team brings to the table. – Kleen

34) Dave Pasch, Play-By-Play, ESPN

Pasch probably has the least amount of star power of the play by play guys taken, and that’s just fine by me. I prefer to let my analysts be the star of the show (full disclosure: Gus Johnson wasn’t even on my draft board) and I think Pasch does an excellent job of doing the same. – Axelrod

35) Michelle Beadle, Studio Host, FanDuel

After Bob Costas politely declined my attempt at using Roundball Rock to lure him back to the NBA for a hosting gig, I was more than happy to offer Michelle Beadle the job. Beadle was great on-air at ESPN during her time on Countdown. Her quick wit and sense of humor will thrive even more alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Chiney Ogwumike. – Contes

36) Draymond Green, Analyst, TNT

Mr. Irrelevant of our draft is hardly that as Green has made himself into one of the loudest, if not interesting, voices in the world of NBA analysis. He’s positioning himself for a very long media career once his playing career is done (as long as he keeps it together) and the opportunity to pair him with Ernie and Perk is too much to pass up. We might not be Ernie, Chuck, and Shaq but it’s gonna get pretty interesting. – Keeley

Draft Summary

Here’s the complete results with each network side-by-side so you can assign your own draft grades. Do you prefer the Charles Barkley studio with Kevin Harlan and Gus Johnson on the call for Brendon Kleen? How about the rising stars like JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson with Ben Axelrod? Brandon Contes has what could be the past, present, and future with Mike Breen, Noah Eagle, and Hubie Brown on board. While Sean Keeley lives out all of our dreams by pairing the Van Gundy brothers together.

Thanks for reading and here’s a toast to all of you with your own half-eaten sandwich in honor of Steve Javie.