The Best and Worst Chemistry Teams in the NBA

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterDecember 23, 2012

The Best and Worst Chemistry Teams in the NBA

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    It may be what you struggled with in high school or even currently with your significant other, but when talking about the basketball court, chemistry is a must.

    Basketball is a game of tempo, trust and teamwork. If all five guys aren't on the same page, the results will most certainly suffer.

    In the NBA, team chemistry can mean the difference between a championship and the draft lottery. Even with a collection of stars, time together is needed for everyone to get on the same page, learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and know how the team will perform best when certain players are on the court.

    Here are the league's best and worst examples when it comes to overall team chemistry.

Worst No. 3: Washington Wizards

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    With a 3-21 start to the 2012-13 season, the Wizards are in sole possession of the league's worst record as of Dec. 22.

    Not that Washington carried high expectations into the season, but with the additions of Emeka Okafor, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza, there was a chance the Wizards could be in contention for a seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

    An injury to John Wall certainly didn't help the cause, but three wins in 24 games is still pretty bad for a roster with other capable players.

    A.J. Price leads the Wizards with a mere 4.9 assists per game and has no reliable point guard to back him up. Price has also never been a starting-quality guard since coming into the league from UConn.

    At 88.8 points per game, the Wizards are showing nearly the same scoring prowess that the 7-59 Charlotte Bobcats showcased last year when they put up 87 points a contest.

    Washington is stuck in the dreaded "we need to rebuild but have too many high-priced veterans" mode that has plagued so many teams before them.

    A healthy John Wall should do wonders, but he won't solve the team's chemistry woes overnight, especially with the team lacking talent in so many key areas.

Best No. 3: New York Knicks

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    The Knicks have had the talent in the past, but they haven't looked this good in a long, long time.

    A lot of that can be attributed to the veterans they've added recently, highlighted by 19-year NBA veteran Jason Kidd.

    Kidd has started all but one game for the Knicks at shooting guard and has provided a steady influence next to Raymond Felton in a New York backcourt turning the ball over a league-low 10.7 times a game.

    As a team, the Knicks average over 32 years of age, the oldest roster in the history of the league. All of these veterans means a ton of experience and knowledge of each other's games before they even stepped on a court together.

    While there were questions in the past over the chemistry between Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, the latter has yet to play in a game this season but has recently returned to practice following offseason knee surgery. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks use Stoudemire since they've gotten off to a 19-7 start without him.

    While the words "good chemistry" and "New York Knicks" haven't gone together much in previous years, this season has proven to be just the opposite in the Big Apple.

    From Steve Novak to Carmelo Anthony, everyone on this roster has a well-defined role. That coupled with the veteran leadership makes for a team with great chemistry.

Worst No. 2: Sacramento Kings

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    The book of issues with the Sacramento Kings starts with DeMarcus Cousins.

    Cousins has the skill set of a top-three NBA center, yet he always seems to find a way to disappoint and frustrate coaches, teammates and fans.

    Currently suspended for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team," Cousins has consistently shown the behavior and attitude of a sixth grader despite now being 22 years of age.

    The Kings' issues don't stop there, however, as Sacramento has struggled for years to find a reliable backcourt duo.

    On paper, they seem to have a number of capable guards: Aaron Brooks, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Francisco Garcia, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Thornton. However, whether due to injuries or inconsistency, none have been able to solidify the backcourt for Sacramento. 

    Currently ranked dead last in assists per game, the Kings are also ranked 28th out of 30 teams in team defense.

    An 8-18 start to the 2012-13 season has to be expected, given that no player is even averaging more than 3.3 assists per game.

    Sacramento needs a true point guard and a grown-up Cousins if it wants to resolve its chemistry issues.

Best No. 2: Miami Heat

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    While things didn't click right away for the Heat, Miami has since come together quite nicely as a team.

    The core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is now in its third season with two Finals appearances and one Finals win already.

    Off to an 18-6 start to begin the 2012-13 season, the Heat rank fourth in both assists (23) and points per game (103.4).

    While veteran role players like Shane Battier and Ray Allen bring a lot to the chemistry department, everything starts with James and Wade.

    While the team has struggled at times, these two superstars always seem to be on the same page on the court both offensively and defensively.

    Passes like these only help to further prove the point.

    It also helps that James is capable of playing just about every position on the floor. That versatility from the Heat's star player is huge should injuries occur or if coach Erik Spoelstra wants to shake up his rotation.

Worst No. 1: Los Angeles Lakers

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    There's no question the Lakers have been the league's most disappointing team this season.

    To say L.A. has a chemistry issue would be to say Craig Sager has a fashion issue.

    Even with arguably the NBA's best players at two of the five positions, the Lakers limped to a 9-14 start to the 2012-13 season. Currently on their third head coach, the Lakers have begun to show signs of turning things around but still have plenty of issues to work out.

    Offensively, taking care of the ball has been an issue.

    L.A. ranks 29th out of 30 teams in turnovers per game, thanks in part to getting used to new players and poor on-court communication.

    On defense, the Lakers have been referred to as "lazy" in both their schemes and efforts.

    In this video, you can see some of the problems the Lakers have in their early-season loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    A healthy Steve Nash will certainly help, but for now, the Lakers have some of the worst chemistry in the NBA. When Nash missed time, it didn't help that backup Steve Blake was unavailable due to his own injury issues.

    In Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense, point guard play is even more crucial. We saw how inept the Lakers could look when they lacked a true floor general.

Best No. 1: San Antonio Spurs

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    Perhaps no team in professional sports has demonstrated better team chemistry over the last decade than the San Antonio Spurs.

    Because of hard work, talent and longevity, the Spurs core has remained together.

    Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan have a combined 36 years of experience playing for the Spurs alone under head coach Gregg Popovich. The trio, or quartet if you will, has won multiple championships together yet never seem to catch the spotlight when it comes to national media attention.

    Having a player like Tim Duncan to build around has enabled the Spurs to be in the championship hunt for the last 15 years. At 36 years old, he is still playing at an All-Star level this year.

    The Spurs are off to a 20-8 start and lead the NBA in assists at 25.6 per game. The often defensive-minded team is actually off to a hot start offensively and ranks third in the league in scoring at 104.2 points a contest.

    Playing with teammates that long and possessing a consistently veteran-heavy roster will certainly help with team chemistry.

    Having a point guard like Tony Parker doesn't hurt either.