Friday, February 25, 2011

Ellis & Curry stay put at trade deadline

The tectonic plates of the NBA shifted mightily at the trade deadline with some interesting and puzzling moves, headlined by superstars of the Western conference going East. Will these moves bring more balanced between conferences? During the past decade, the Eastern conference has been collectively inferior to the West.

What is the future of the Nuggets and Jazz after losing two of the best players in the world in Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams? Both teams, especially Utah, have impeded the Warriors path to the playoffs (when the Warriors weren't doing it themselves).

The Warriors made a small move by swapping Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric for essentially a second round draft pick, as they will likely buy out Troy Murphy's contract, much to the disappointment of "pre-we believers" who still have that number one jersey in the closet. More important, Larry Riley refrained from moving Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry, which was a great non-move. A mid-season trade is for a team that is in contention to win a title or an awful team that wants to have a garage sale and rebuild. The Warriors are somewhere in between. They are slightly out of playoff range, but they are not awful.

NBA trends and the Championship Formula

The NBA is a league of "big three's", popularized by the Celtics in 2007 when they forged the super team of Garnett, Allen, and Pierce. The Heat took the next step with Bosh, James, and Wade. Now the Knicks are slowly, but steadily establishing a constellation with Stoudamire and Anthony. Will they be able to lure/afford Chris Paul in 2012? There are many conspiracies happening now and tension with the possibility of a lockout next season. This way of team building is fragile, as it means a team must sacrifice depth to afford contracts of multiple superstars. The Celtics won a title in 2008, but it was the supporting cast that lifted up the "big three". Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, Eddie House, James Posey, Glen Davis...

In recent years, the Lakers have won back-to-back titles with the formula of Kobe Bryant, a stable of lanky bigs (Gasol, Bynum, Odom), physical swingmen who defend and knock down shots (Ariza, Artest, Barnes). And of course D-Fish, the old general who stays the hell out of Kobe's way, plays physical, and hits big shots. To win a championship in the NBA you first need length, big lankly players to clog the lane and rebound. Second, you need depth, a competent group of players who have roles and consistently preform so your superstar(s) don't get overworked. Third, and most important, you need at least one superstar. The bigs and the depth give a team the chance to win any game, and the superstar closes it out. There has to be a player who can hit the big shot or make sure he gets to the foul with the game on the line.

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