Question: When is the whole less than the sum of it's parts?
Answer: When that whole is the Dallas Mavericks, prior to Steve Nash's departure in 2004.
Seriously, can you think of a situation where two very good players BOTH became great AFTER THEY STOPPED PLAYING TOGETHER? It's a mystery, although for the Suns it was also a coup.
But is it really that suprising? Picture the scene:
You've just turned 30. You've been playing well for your team for several years, doing very solid, but not great work. You're happy with the status quo, but something seems off.
Your contract is up and your team doesn't seem to be that commited to keeping you. Sure, they go through the motions, but you know you deserve better, after all you're a solid player.
All of a sudden another team appears on the radar who are VERY interested. They offer you more money, more years, more control, more everything. They seem to really want you, but your not really sure why. I mean you're really good, but lets be honest, you know you're not great. Your current team however, seems kind of apathetic, you are getting old after all.
Still, their attitude is annoying as you'd like to stay with them, but you accept the new team's deal because they clearly want you more.
But now what? Your a 30 year old guy on the downside of his career and your in over your head! Yes you've always been good, but your new team sucks, they really need you to be great.
They showed so much faith in you, you really can't let them down now. So you hit the gym like a demon. You work, work, work until you are ready for the next season in the best shape of your life. And you play HARD.
You play so hard that people don't actually quite know what the hell happened, and ask, 'How did he get so good all of a sudden?'
Your stats improve across the board, all of a sudden you are the best playmaker in the league, and the guys around you are making quantum leaps in production. You are winning almost every game you play. Next thing you know, you're the MVP of the whole league!
Your team won 62 games, 33 more than last year all because of you! You reach the postseason and make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
On the way you stomp your old team into the ground and knock them out of the playoffs. Nice!