In the recipe of championship winning NBA teams, there’s an ingredient that often goes unnoticed on the taste buds of sports analysts: balance.
This does not refer to squaring up on the pull up, nor does it suggest that everyone must have the ballet-like poise of “the King”.
Balanced teams can come in one of two ways: the “Specialists” or the “Lamars” (I’ll get to the latter shortly).
The “Specialist” team is comprised of one-dimensional players that are each superb at one or two things on the court. You may have an individual that has great speed and great passing ability, but can’t shoot a lick. You may have a hall-of-famer spot up shooter who can’t hit a jumper without three screens being set for him. You may have a defensive-minded center who can’t put a post-move to memory, but thrives on his ability to alter shots.
You may in fact be the Boston Celtics.
Simply put, the “Specialists” are pieced together to create a balanced team.
The “Lamars” on the other hand, are a balanced team because the players themselves are balanced (you will come to see that I believe Lamar Odom is one of the most complete players in the NBA). This team does not have a single person that is exceptionally great at one thing (although this does not hurt), but has players that can do many things at a fairly high level. You can have a shooting guard that has a post-game as deadly as his face up game (same goes for its lanky, curly haired, power forward). You can have a backup power forward who can dribble, drive, pass, rebound and shoot 3's.
Simply put, the “Lamars” have balanced pieces that shape a well-rounded team.
Which type of team is better? It’s hard to say.
Each of the last three NBA champions have been one of these two types of balanced teams, with this season looking like no exception. With the “Specialists” you have a machine who, when well oiled, can cause fits for any other team, but may slow down when not at full strength.
The “Lamars” can create matchup problems day-in and day-out, but a surplus level of this skill set may, at times, prove difficult to consistently and efficiently integrate into team basketball.
There are of course many other components that make up a championship roster (having players like Fisher who just “know” how to win), but this is for another day. Just be sure your team is like a well-balanced meal- or a well-balanced meal blended and frozen into ice-cubes.