The NBA's Most Expendable Stars

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The NBA's Most Expendable Stars
USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, NBA teams play better without their star players. ESPN personality Bill Simmons popularized a related concept that he calls "The Ewing Theory."

It is predicated on the notion that, on occasion, a team can play better without its best player.

The relative success of the New York Knicks during the career of Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing shows how great he was. The Knicks contended for a championship many times during the decade-and-a-half after the team drafted him first overall in 1985, but they could never quite get over the hump.

Many blamed that on the fact that the team never acquired a second star to play alongside Ewing.

Then, in 1999, while the Knicks and their aging franchise player faced the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals, Ewing blew out his Achilles tendon.

Everyone thought New York was toast.

Simmons explained what came next on ESPN.com: "So what happened? The Knicks won three of the next four and advanced to the NBA Finals for only the second time in 26 years."

The Knicks couldn't beat the San Antonio Spurs to win the title, but by even getting to the Finals, they shocked the sports world.

Fast forward more than a decade, and we are seeing similar circumstances play out, albeit on a smaller stage, so far in 2012-13.

Ultimately, I don't think any team is ever truly better long term without its best players, but the following are four players who sometimes make you wonder how much their coaches actually need them out on the floor.

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