How To Build an NBA Championship Team
In the midst of the NBA Finals and with the draft coming up, it is useful for all of those drafting high to learn what is necessary to build a championship caliber team. he basics can be determined from looking back at recent champions to see what they have in common.
Looking back at the champions since Jordan retired, there are some strong commonalities among the champions. The teams that have won are the Spurs (4x), Lakers (3x), Pistons, Heat and Celtics.
With the exception of the Pistons, each of these teams had at least one surefire Hall of Fame player on the roster in the post. The Pistons had the Defensive Player of the Year in Ben Wallace to make up for the lack of a Hall of Fame player.
So to start, look for a quality low post player in the draft or through a trade. At a minimum, a championship team needs an All-Star-caliber player in the post. It helps to have at least one post player who can also block shots. Every team that has won a title since Jordan retired had at least one player that could block shots.
Secondly, one must have two scorers on the roster. The players do not have to be Hall of Fame players as long as they can score consistently in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs have had Duncan and Manu. The Lakers had Kobe and Shaq. The Pistons had Billups and Hamilton. The Heat had Wade and Shaq and the Celtics had Pierce, Allen and Garnett.
The key is that a team must have two players who can score in the clutch so that it prevents the opposing team from keying on just one player. Cleveland's failure to add a consistent second scorer is why LeBron is home and the Magic are still playing. One can go back to Patrick Ewing and the Knicks to see how this dynamic works.
Third, a dynamic, creative point guard is NOT necessary. The best point guard of the recent champions was Billups, and he is not a creative point. He is a steady, pass-first point guard who can shoot.
One could argue Tony Parker is better, but Parker is not a creative point guard either. He does a good job of avoiding turnovers and getting into the paint.
The Lakers won with Derek Fisher. The Spurs won with Avery Johnson before Parker. The Heat won with an old Gary Payton and a mostly washed-up Jason Williams. The Celtics won with a young, developing Rajon Rondo.
Superstar point guards hurt a team's championship chances because the game becomes about them instead of the team. Solid and steady is better in a point guard if you want to win a title.
Fourth, you need smart players who are good passers. In the playoffs, most teams play good defense. The way to beat a team with a good defense is with good passers who will limit turnovers. A team that shares the ball is a team that wins.
Teams without good passers can be forced into turnovers with the use of double teams. Players who cannot find the open man off of a double-team are liabilities in the fourth quarter and are not championship caliber players. Phil Jackson's greatness as a coach is that he molds teams that share the ball well. When the Lakers lose, it is often because Kobe goes off script and forgets to pass the ball efficiently.
Fifth, you need at least one lockdown defender who can harass the other team's best scorer. The Spurs had Bowen, the Lakers had Kobe (a true superstar like Kobe always helps), the Pistons had Prince, the Heat and the Celtics had James Posey, and the Celtics also had Garnett. Without at least one lockdown defender, a star scorer can get his points too easily.
With these thoughts, I would not worry about taking Ricky Rubio with the second pick. I would take Hasheem Thabeet. He would provide the shotblocker that a championship team needs.
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