Current MVP or the “Kid” almost guaranteed to win 3? The young talented point guard or the young talented center? Present or future? With the almost “expansion like” feel of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s name contests and jersey submissions, it makes me wonder who is the perfect foundation to build a franchise upon. So as the Redeem Team rolls through the Olympics and are on center stage of the basketball world, let’s look at Coach K’s crew to find that player, in no particular order.
D-Wade: He is always exceeding expectations, at every level. His run with the Heat to the championship is considered, by many, to be the single greatest playoff performance. He is athletic and smart. He knows his game and when he is "on", there is little that most can do to stop him. He continues to expand his range on the court and off the court, Wade is as marketable as Kobe and LeBron. The two “issues” are his age and health. He is 3 years older (26) than LeBron and Paul and having battled so many injuries lately, you must wonder if he would be able to get back to his form of 2006 and maintain it. But if the Olympics are a preview, he is on his way.
Kobe: It is very easy to make the case for Kobe. He is a 3-time NBA Champ, MVP, scoring champ, first team all-everything member, and if last year was not a fluke, a real leader. But Kobe will turn 30 on Aug. 23rd. That is not to say he will not be able to carry a team in the short-term, but would need help in the long-term. And typically expansion teams are thin on help. Yet, Kobe has international appeal that few in the game have, so no matter what number he might switch to, people are going to buy the jersey.
LeBron: 23 years old, averages 27 and 7, and has proven very durable. LBJ may be the front runner. He gained “one-name” status straight-out of high school (probably while he was still in high school) and his face is everywhere; Nike, Coke, PowerAde and of course, Bubblicious. He ranks with Tiger as the most recognizable athlete in the US and is certain to sell-out stadiums. Loyalty may be LeBrons down fall. Can he play for team with out talking about future options? Will he see your team through the storm and lead them to the championship?
Dwight Howard: Best center in the league? No question. Only a healthy Yao can affect play like Howard can. With every ounce of muscle he puts on, combined with the vertical and “freak of nature” factor, Howard comes closer to that true ELITE Center Status last achieved by Shaq. His personality and charisma might even be more user-friendly than the Big – Aristotle. Howard, at time, takes control of games on both ends of the court. I believe he is a PG away from completely owning the league; he is not yet able to create on offense the whole game. Imagine Howard and Chris Paul on the same team. I just got chills.
Carmelo: As a NBA player, Melo underachieves. As an international player, he is great. Melo has put up great numbers in the past for the Nuggets and led some so-so teams to the playoffs. He is undoubtedly talented and knows how to score (24.4 pts. avg. for his career). But, going into his 6th NBA season, he is still one dimensional. His attitude and off-the-court problems would to be a huge issue with the new fan base. On-the-court, he is more Scottie Pippen than Michael Jordan. So Melo needs to prove that he can win without LeBron on his side. Remeber, the Bulls did not do too much without that Jordan guy.
Chris Paul: I am still not sure why he did not win MVP. Take him off the Hornets and the team does not make the playoffs. He makes his team better and is a true PG. He is able to see and make passes people thought were only possible by Kidd and Nash. He will become a better shooter than the former and is already a better athlete than both. What makes Paul even a more appealing franchise player is that he is great person (that’s what I have heard) and showed the class and compassion needed in New Orleans. And he is only 23.
Deron Williams: Taken before Chris Paul by a team that has the highest expectations of a point guard in the NBA. Williams broke out in the Playoffs of 2007 and continues to evolve. He is tough, strong, a good shooter and passer, and able to create for himself AND others. He also has the confidence and ability to lead a veteran team. Even though he is not yet a house hold name like some of the others on the team, I think that changes this year, he is still on this team for a reason.
Chris Bosh: He has the potential and talent, just like every other person in the top-5 picks of the 2003 draft NOT named Darco. He is tall (6’10”) and athletic. His careers averages of 19 pts and 9 rebounds are solid. He does not need to add greatly to the points, but needs fill-up the rest of the stat sheet. Having played only one year at Georgia Tech, he is only 24, and should be able to grow into a more dominant big man. Maybe running against Howard everyday for couple months will help.
Not an easy call or maybe it is. For me it comes down to two people; LeBron or Paul. Either way you are setting yourself up nicely for the beginning of your franchise. Having to pick from this group would be a problem every GM wishes they had.