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One of the most prevalent arguments that opponents of the current Bulls team have is that they, “need a second star.”
The history of the NBA is primarily filled with championship teams that have two, or even three, superstars on the team.
Title tandems and trios include LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for the Miami Heat, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for the Boston Celtics, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the San Antonio Spurs, Shaquille O’Neal (or Pau Gasol) and Kobe Bryant for the Los Angeles Lakers and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for the Chicago Bulls.
Those groups include the basic elements of 17 of the last 22 championship team, which makes for pretty compelling evidence.
The problem is that there’s a bit of a reduction fallacy involved here, as well as some circular reasoning.
Reduction fallacy is when someone takes a complex topic and makes it about a singular thing. It’s also known as a singular-cause fallacy. For example, when people are arguing for or against gun control, and point to a city that does or doesn’t have it, and use crime statistics to “prove” their point, they are committing this fallacy.
Obviously, there is more than one thing that impacts crime. And obviously, there is more than one thing that impacts championships. Defense, offensive systems, coaching, rebounding, role players, bench depth, injuries and a host of other things also play a part.
In each of those cases, you can find equally compelling evidence. For example, since the NBA/ABA merger in 1978, all but five teams who won a title had a top-10 defensive rating. All but eight had a top-10 offensive rating.
Does defense win championships? Does offense? Is it a stars league? The clear answer is yes. Pointing to one reason teams win is shortsighted.
Circular reasoning is when you begin with your conclusion. The circular part of the reasoning here is that some of the “superstars” here could be argued to be stars because they won.
Would Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili be counted as such if they hadn’t won titles? If you move those Spurs teams from the superstar column to the non-superstar column, it evens out some.
Moreover, are there superstar tandems that didn’t win? Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have never won. (But Griffin’s not a superstar! What’s he ever won!?!?!) You see how the fallacy is created.
Some would argue that it’s not about a second star so much as it is a second scorer, but history is filled with teams who only had one player who scored over 20 points per game. Even with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Pippen only broke the 20 barrier twice in seasons Chicago won a title. Most recently, Dirk Nowtizki’s Dallas Mavericks did so.
Bryant’s Lakers had only one 20-point scorer. The 2008 Boston Celtics had none. The 2007 San Antonio Spurs barely had even one, as Duncan averaged exactly 20.0 points per game. In 2005, they only had one as well. The 2004 Detroit Pistons didn’t have any.
History shows that the need for a “second scorer” is a bit overblown—at least to the point that they need a second guy who can get you 20 points a contest.
Sure, all of those teams have a second player who is hitting around 16-20 points per game, if not three, but the Bulls do have that in Carlos Boozer ad Luol Deng. Jimmy Butler could hit that level, too, as he scored about 15 as a starter.
The bottom line here is that there are many factors that go into winning a title and none of them are universal. While many of the consistencies are found in the Bulls, some are missing. No title team has all of them. While adding a second "star" couldn't hurt, it wouldn't assure a title, nor would not adding one disqualify them.
The Bulls should not, and hopefully won't, entertain offers that don't make them better just to add a star.