The Jason Kidd-Devin Harris trade is a perfect example of this concept. What's more important for a team? Proven superstars or players who fit perfectly into a system?
Harris could have never lived up to his all-star potential with the Mavericks. The Mavs relied too much on inconsistent players Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard. Jason Terry was used frequently as a ballhandler and made Harris's speed less noticeable.
The defense was there. Harris was able to defend practically any point guard in a conference dominated by quick guards. But he was under-appreciated before the Kidd trade.
As you probably know, Harris is currently thriving as the cornerstone of the Nets while Kidd has been beaten by the elite guards he now has to face regularly.
The 2003-2004 Pistons were a team built using what I call the Devin Harris factor. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace all struggled to find systems where they could fit in.
But they made the Pistons competitive and then Rasheed Wallace was added mid-year to make them a championship team. They also had Larry Brown, a coach that's as great as any coach in the history of the game at adjusting their style of play to fit the players.
In 2005, the Pistons sent all of the aforementioned players to the All-Star game after previous teams had given up on them.
Who else could thrive with a different team? Here's a few that would have a chance.
Richardson is a talented player, but the Knicks expected way too much out of him when they traded Kurt Thomas for him.
He's played mostly small forward with the Knicks and his main struggle has been defense. His natural position is shooting guard as he is too small to guard most small forwards.
Throughout his career, he's been a solid scorer, but the Knicks haven't given him enough talent around him to help him find a shot as a spot-up shooter.
Mike D'Antoni has used him well in this role. Keep in mind that Richardson's best year was with D'Antoni on the Suns. Richardson didn't need a change of team, just a change in role.
Lou Williams has done a fine job as the 76er's point guard. But he would be better with more playing time.
Don't expect him to leave the 76er's. He's young, he just started a five year deal, and he's the only person on the team who can make a three pointer.
Williams is a talented offensive point guard. He would thrive in a faster system. He can shoot on the run and he's become a smarter passer every year.
Coming into the pro game, Thomas had the potential to be as good as anyone, especially on defense.
Thomas's problem is that most power forwards are stronger than him and able to post up on him.
On offense, he's been awful with a .330 field goal percentage. And he's struggled to find himself, sometimes putting up too many stupid shots and sometimes driving through the lanes at bad times.
Thomas needs to get bigger and go to a team with more shooters to open up the court for him and big weak side defenders. That is, if he can even be fixed at this point.
On the Pacers, Foster has fit into a lot of winning teams. His problem this year, Jim O'Brien has made offense his main focus. Foster has no offensive game.
Foster is an above average defender and rebounder, but wouldn't be starting on most winning teams.
The Pacers have a decent core of young talent built around TJ Ford and Danny Granger. The Pacers need a quicker center to fit in their fast system.
Foster needs a new team where he doesn't have to transition as quickly to the offensive side.
Nelson thrived at Saint Joseph's in an offense run through the back court. He was a good shooter in college, but never had enough chances to develop his shot to make the NBA three.
He averages only 9.9 shots per game, which is too little for a guard who thrives more off of shooting than passing.
In Orlando, the offense is run through the big men and the offense is relatively slow. Nelson could benefit from playing a more major role with another team.
The Entire Mavericks Team
This one doesn't really need an explanation.
Wilcox is athletic, but he's never developed any post moves. He relies mostly on dunks for scoring.
He is stopped by big bodies on defense and has hardly anyone in the Thunder front court to take coverage off him.
He needs to be on a team with another solid big man on offense to take his offensive game to its fullest potential.
Udrih is a solid player, but he's relied on too much with the Kings.
Lacking a true inside presence, Udrih has had to drive to the inside when he senses weak lane defense.
He's usually good at doing so, but he needs better players around him. He can sometimes take a shot inside only for the fact that there is not enough movement from the rest of the players to get open shots.
One of Udrih's weaknesses is making quick decisions and having a superstar around him would give him someone to pass it inside to when no one has an open shot.