How to win an NBA title

Scott OttersenCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2008

There are many different styles of teams that can win an NBA title, but I am here to hash out the one, "perfect" type of team that would beat them all, if it was ever created.

I will go position by position, and even try and cover the bench players, and coaching staff.


Point guard
The ideal PG would be a player who knows how to handle the ball.  The worst quality a PG could have would be shaky ball-handling skills.  They have to have confidence in their handles.  They have to know that they can break down the man guarding them at any point in the game.  They don't have to be the best ball handler, or have handles like some of the guys on the AND1 tour do, but a PG who keeps his defender honest is going to have the ability to help his team much better than one whose defender knows he can guard face-up without worrying about getting crossed over or beat on the dribble.

Another quality the PG needs is the “pass first” mentality.  The point guard is the main facilitator of the offense, and if they don't have the ability to facilitate the ball into the hands of their lead scorers, the team will not be able to prosper.  However, just because they think this way does not mean they always have to follow it.  It is perfectly fine for a PG to take his man to the basket and put up a lay-up.  He just can't do it more often than he passes the ball off to his wing and post players. 

Along with those offensive traits, a prime PG would have defensive ability, as well.  We do not want a point guard who can be taken off the dribble just as easily as he can take his defender off the dribble.  He has to be able to guard the ball.  The NBA has a lot of defensive players who can guard the man, but not the ball.  What I mean by that is that they can stay with the man they are guarding, but as soon as that man has the ball in his hands, he loses him.  I think a lot of it has to do with the rules, and that the players are too scared of committing a foul, but the great defensive players know how to guard the ball within the rules. 

Other preferred intangibles: good size and shooting ability.

Today's player that best meets this criteria: Chris Paul (with Chauncey Billups close behind)

Shooting guard
At shooting guard, the most important criteria is scoring ability.  It would be ideal to have your SG be your team’s best scorer.  They should be able to score any way they pleased.  He should be a great slashing guard.  He should be able to create his own shot, so that he did not always have to rely on the point guard getting the ball to him when he was open.  He shoul have a great shot, to go with his great shot selection. 

Along with being able to score however he wanted, he should also know his limits.  He shouldn’t put up shots just because he had the ball in his hands.  The shots would come within the offense.

Size is important for the SG position.  Most two guards are in the 6'4"-6'6" range, so you would like to follow that archetype, so that your two guard doesn’t have a disadvantage on offense and defense.  I know that height is not the only thing that matters when it comes to playing ability, but it is never a bad thing to have.  Teams that do not have a lot of size at the guard position have struggled.  It matters more on the defensive end, seeing how the offensive player always has the advantage.  And, just like your ideal PG, you would like your SG to be able to handle himself on the defensive end.  If teams are following this prototype, then your SG would have to be able to defend someone who played the way he did.

Intangibles: ball handling, ability to perform in the clutch

Today's player that best meets the criteria: Kobe Bryant

Small forward
I'd like my small forward to be my teams best defensive player.  I would like for him to be in the 6'7"-6'10" height range, and to have a nice build, so that he would be able to defend any of the five positions.  It is the greatest tool a coach can have to be able to send your best defensive player on the court, and have him be able to guard the other team’s best player, no matter what position that player played.  I believe, strongly, that a team with a player of this type, would have a hearty advantage over every opponent they faced.

Intangibles: good spot-up shooter, rebounding

Today's player that best meets the criteria: Tayshaun Prince (only because Ron Artest is too crazy—also, I would like to add that, yes, ideally, you would want LeBron James as your SF)

Power forward
At the power forward position, you need size, strength, and someone who has great low-post presence on both offense and defense.  On the offensive side, it would be best if your PF was someone that attracted double teams as soon as he touched the ball, to better open up the opportunity for him to pass the ball back out to the guards, or to put up a shot, make it, and take the foul. 

I'll relate it to a phrase they use in hockey, you should always put the puck on net, which is the NBA version of always throwing the ball inside.  The closer the shooter is to the hoop, the better chance he has of making his shot.  So, having a PF who you can trust to score, or distribute the ball back out to the perimeter, every time he touches it down low is possibly the greatest advantage any team can have.

On defense, he should be the same presence as he is on the offensive end except he is keeping the ball from going in the basket.  A great PF would have great shot-blocking ability and would also be a great help defender.  Never underestimate the value of a great help defender.  Your perimeter players cannot guard their man on every possession, but when that player does get by your teammate, it is the job of the post players to be there to bail them out.  And, there is no better help than having a post player who can block shots with reckless abandon.  The very sight of a player you know can block your shot at any time can stop a slasher from coming in the lane.  Not only does he block shots, but he alters them, and also stops shots from even going up.

Intangibles: rebounding, knowing how to stay out of foul trouble

Today's player that best meets the criteria: Dwight Howard

At center, you would like to have someone who is just going to play off of the PF.  He doesn't have to be a dominant presence on either end of the game.  On offense, he just has to know where to be, and the guys around him will get him cheap baskets.  Ondefense, he needs to stay with his man, box out, avoid fouls, and help defend when players are driving to the basket.

Intangibles: rebounding, shot-blocking

Today's player that best meets the criteria: Tyson Chandler/Marcus Camby (although I'll take Chandler, because of age)

The bench
On the bench, you wouldn't need much, considering the starting lineup you have.  But, you would need a decent backup PG, who can run the offense when the starter needs a break, or gets in foul trouble.  You would also need a good, spot-up, three-point specialist to come in when the team needs a boost from beyond the arc, another slashing guard coming off the bench to keep the opponents second team honest on defense, and, another two low-post presences, who don't have to be as dominant as the starters, but someone who can come in to spare their legs when they need a rest.

Some of today's players that might be best for the bench on this team: Jose Calderon, Jason Kapono, Kyle Korver, Monta Ellis, David Lee

You would need a coach who knows how to trust his players.  With a team this good, the coach is almost unnecessary, but he would need to be there to keep them motivated, and to make sure that they were staying on course.  Distractions are an issue in today's game, and it is the coach's responsibility to keep his teams mind on the game.  Knowing how to rotate players in and out is another key criteria.  He has to know when a player needs to be in the game, and when a player needs to not be in the game.  It would be easy to be the coach of a team like this.

Today's coach that best meets the criteria: Phil Jackson


Keep in mind that this is not a Dream Team compilation.  Sure, the Dream Team would run the NBA, but a team of that massive amount of talent is impossible to assemble.  I set out to just draw up a diagram of each position’s needs, and then followed it up with a player who best resembled that criteria.  I am not saying that is the ONLY player that would meet that criteria, but I dare anyone to say a lineup of Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Tayshaun Prince, Dwight Howard, and Tyson Chandler wouldn't run the gauntlet.