Every year a champion emerges from the NBA.
Each year, another team has that right balance of chemistry, team spirit, talent, and coaching to bring the team to the top.
As a middle school basketball coach, I have had the pleasure of coaching this great sport, and the way to make a winner is universal from middle school to high school to college to the NBA.
5. Have an intelligent and strategic coach
Having a great coach is a no brainer. A coach has to be able to adjust to game situations and be willing to adjust his offensive system from game to game.
Being knowledgeable as to what plays and players will counteract other teams players and plays is essential.
However, some coaches can have success with talented players, even if the coach lacks in game skills. Stan Van Gundy is a prime example of this. He has talented players in Orlando, and yet he does not have the sense to utilize his talent.
4. Have a Go-to Guy
Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Carmello Anthony. Dirk Nowitzki. Ray Allen. Dwayne Wade. Chris Paul.
These names strike fear into the hearts of all NBA opponents. In the fourth quarter when you need a big run or a big score, these guys get you going. When your offense is struggling and you need a spark. These guys get you going.
Every team needs a go to guy. If not, you can let big leads dissipate and be unable to make comebacks of your own. Usually, this player is also your team leader on the court. EVERY champion has one of these on their team.
3. You must have depth at every position
Go to guys can come in a wide variety of flavors. Some are forwards, some are guards, and there can be a few centers here and there.
Take those away though, and you have to have a talented core around the player. To me, this is the order of importance in position.
The Current Prototype: Chris Paul
Necessary Skills: Must be an incredible ball handler. Must be the best passer on your team and avoid turnovers. Should be able to dribble penetrate to create open shots for the guards and forwards. Should be very quick, and defend well.
A good point guard should have a wide variety of ball fakes and fade moves to create shots.
Secondary Skills: Should be able to be a shooting threat. Hopefully, a great point guard can play like a shooting guard to create points. You would also hope that the point guard has great leadership skills.
The point guard is the quarterback of your team. He should be the person who calls plays, and the ball always goes through this player. He should be able to produce points in the lane. Championship teams always have championship point guard play.
The Current Prototype: Dwight Howard
Necessary Skills: A Center must be tall AND strong. Just being tall is not enough to be a center. If you are a little weaker, you are a power forward. Must have a plethora of post moves to compliment his rebounding, blocking, and interior defense.
Should be a good dunker/lay-up shooter. Needs to be able to establish position inside the paint by using his body and his strength. Must be a good passer with excellent vision.
Secondary Skills: It is a luxury to have a center who can shoot outside the paint. (See Brad Miller, Yao Ming, and Big Z.)
A center is a critical component to any team. Not because of plays that run through him, but because of the play extensions a center can bring to a team. Rebounds, put backs, easy buckets, the inside/outside strategy for the guards to get open threes, and drawing a double team are all things that a dominant center can bring to your team.
My suggestion: Find this piece first if your are building a team, regardless of level.
The Current Prototype: Kobe Bryant
Necessary Skills: Must be a shooting assassin from all ranges. Must be able to dribble off screens and split double teams. Should be an excellent passer. Usually the top defender of the team.
Secondary Skills: Should be able to run the point. Should be able to dribble penetrate and be aggressive towards the rim.
Having a great shooting guard is a luxury. These guys should take the most shots and should have a high shooting percentage. They should also be able on the most explosive player on the opposing team.
The Current Prototype: LeBron James
Necessary Skills: Usually the most talented player on the team in terms of skill sets. Should be a bigger body, able to shoot from all over, and have a great inside presence. Honestly, LeBron James is the player everyone wishes their small forward is.
Secondary Skills: Could be large enough to play power forward or be quick enough to run as a guard (a la LeBron).
This is the ultimate pacifier. The position is not as important as some of the others, but have a great scorer here causes defenses to concentrate on this player also causing mismatches for your guards.
The Current Prototype: Kevin Garnett
Necessary Skills: Should be a great defender. Does not need to be a tremendous scorer, but should have a good inside game. Usually the second largest member of the starting squad, should be faster then most centers and capable of playing center in a smaller/quicker lineup. Should be able to rebound well.
Secondary skills: Shooting range is nice to have for a forward, but not necessary. Dirk Nowitzki is the best shooting PF. Passing usually is not a strength as plays do not go through PF's as often.
This is your blue collar player. He makes the tough rebounds and plays inside. Players like KG and Nowitzki play sort of in a free style way. Everyone wants a tough player like KG as their power forward.
*A note on depth: Depth means having QUALITY players for each position. Generally, you need players that fit YOUR scheme. This does not mean have a bunch of all stars all over the place. This rarely works. Reason? See my number one.
A fairly important aspect of the NBA. Experienced basketball players generally perform better in clutch situations. Shaq was a great clutch player. Kobe is. Ray Allen is probably the most clutch player I have ever seen.
This comes with experience. Now, some of your depth can be young, but experience among starters is necessary.
To me, the most important aspect of the game. Teams with great chemistry win championships. Great teams with poor chemistry lose championships. This is why the Cavaliers have the best chance to win this year.
The Lakers are everyone's favorite. However, they have looked bad at times, due to their arrogance and lack of chemistry. The Cavaliers can not run with the Lakers talent wise, but their chemistry will push them over the top.