October 25, 2014

Sixers Trade Talk: Anatomy of a Champion

Doc and MosesHow do you effectively build a championship contending team?  What trades could/should the Sixers make?  What guys should stay and who should be dangled on the market as available through trade?  Those are some of the things I’ve been thinking about lately and how that relates to the Sixers.  A few things spurred this: all the recent trade talk, watching last year’s NBA Finals again on NBATV and thinking back to previous NBA champions.

When building a team the goal is putting together a perennial winner.  Not just that but a team capable of winning it all.  So every move, big or small should be 100% supportive of that goal.  I don’t think the Sixers trade proposals have been thought through with that particular frame of mind.

Many are just trades to make a trade because the team is bad right now.  Trades to get rid a player people have a personal dislike for or bias against.  Lateral moves that at best slightly improve the team, but not necessarily in the direction of a champion.  Nothing more than band aid trades that fix the problems of a terrible team.  Only taking the Sixers from horrible to “not bad” or “just OK”.  Well “not bad” and “just OK” isn’t the goal.  Merely competitive but still always short isn’t good enough, is it?  It’s not for me.

Now don’t take that last paragraph personally; it’s just my opinion. It’s just not how I would go about it if I was a GM.  The problem is it’s much easier said than done.  But here is the framework I would work within when trying to build a contending NBA team.

The Anatomy of a Champion

I think there are a minimum of 9 types of players or roles that must be effectively filled in order to be a championship contending/winning team.  If you look at past champions and even runner ups I think you would find most, if not all of the below types of players on the roster.  The names are pretty self explanatory but I will give a bit of a description.

Here is the thing: you don’t have to have 9 different players either.  A single player can play more than one role as I will try and give examples for below.

  • Unquestioned Superstar – This is pretty easily defined.  We are pretty much talking about a hall-of-fame player. The likes of Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Duncan, Jordan, Bird, Magic, Kareem, Shaq, Hakeem, Moses Malone, the Doctor, Barkley, KG etc.  This is unquestionably the best player on the team, often the best player on the floor most nights.  This player is extremely versatile and can do just about anything on the court.  And he’s the guy you trust when the game is on the line and you need ANYTHING. A bucket, a three, free throws, a defensive stop, doesn’t matter.  One way or another he gets it done.  Not to mention he’s the clear leader as well.  This is the single most important piece and, in my opinion, mandatory if you want to be a NBA champion.  I said it before: the Detroit model is an exception, and you have to look back a long way to find another team without an unquestioned superstar that won a title.  But acquiring this player is obviously the hardest to do as well.  Takes a combination of a keen scouting eye, savvy GM work and luck to make it happen.
  • Super Sidekick – Best example for me personally is Scottie Pippen.  This guy has the respect and trust of the superstar player and is as trusted by the head coach as the super star player.  This guy very well may be a hall of fame player and on equal footing as the super star but takes a slightly lesser role for the good of the team.  At the very least he is an all-star and steps up when the big man is having an off game.  He kills opponents when they try to simply key on the unquestioned superstar.  When the main guy gets hurt you are still confident the team will succeed and stay afloat because you have this guy who can step into that leading role for a while.
  • Reliable Third Banana – We’ve heard a lot about the “big three” lately, well this is #3.  The caliber of this player varies by team, but for the most part champions have that 3rd guy.  On Boston it was Ray Allen, on the Spurs it could be Tony Parker or Ginobili on any given day or playoff series.  On the later Bulls teams it was Toni Kukoc, during the first three-peat it was Horace Grant.  You can probably pick your favorite from your generation of basketball viewing as well.
  • Inside Scorer – Stability on offense in the half court with a player that can score inside is a necessity.  Duncan, Shaq, Kareem, the Dream, Barkley the list goes on and on.  Championship teams have that guy.  The Bulls were an execption, but Jordan filled that role as the dominant post player on those teams especially during the 2nd 3-peat.
  • Clutch Sharpshooter – For me this one has a distinct definition because most people just say you need a shooter.  No, you need a “clutch, I got balls of steel” shooter.  I am talking about John Paxson, Steve Kerr, James Posey, Robert Horry type shooters.  Guys that don’t just make a lot of threes in practice or meaningless regular season games.  I am talking about when the game is on the line and the defense sends 2 and 3 dudes at Jordan or Kobe or doubles Shaq or Duncan in the post they have enough trust and confidence to pass that guy the ball.  They know he will hit it.  I think this was sorely lacking on the Lakers last season.  Sure Sasha is a good three point shooter, but when Kobe needed someone to make a shot for him no one came through.  Whereas Posey made big shot after big shot when he got an opportunity.  Ray Allen also played this role as well as Eddie House for Boston last year. You can never have too many strong shooters.
  • Microwave -  Does this need any further explanation other than pointing to ” THE Microwave” Vinny Johnson as an example?  This is your go-to sixth man off the bench.  Manu Ginobili also played this role as well as Toni Kukoc for the Bulls.  The Lakers are hoping Lamar Odom is that guy for them this season and I think Boston is still trying to figure out who that guy is.  Right now I would say it’s House.
  • In-Your-Shirt Defender – Most teams have a perimeter player that is a handful to deal with so in order to combat that you must have a strong perimeter defender to make that offensive player work.  Bruce Bowen, James Posey, Tayshaun Prince, Lindsay Hunter, Mario Elie.  The Bulls actually had a few in Jordan, Pippen and Ron Harper.  Kobe plays this role sometimes as well. Hell Paul Pierce slipped into it last year against Kobe and LeBron and did an admirable job.
  • Rim & Paint Protector – You won’t win if you let guys walk down the lane for easy baskets.  Sometimes you need to defend straight up in the post as well to defend against strong perimeter shooting teams.  That means you gotta have a player or two that can block and alter shots at the rim, man up defensively in the post and rebound the hell out of the ball.  KG played this role perfectly for Boston.  Go down the line Shaq, Duncan, Ben Wallace, Hakeem, Rodman, Robinson etc.  Ideally this guy needs to be tough as well.  Meaning he isn’t afraid and is willing to mix it up inside and commit hard fouls when necessary.  This is another area the Lakers lacked last season.  Gasol is a very skilled Mr. Softee ice cream cone.
  • Hustle Man – Brings a ton of energy, is a pest on defense and fires up the rest of the team  and crowd with his hustle plays.  Posey, Derek Fisher, Rodman, Ben Wallace.

Ok there you have it.  This is certainly not perfect.  There are always exceptions as well.  First let me ask  this: if you agree help me out, what did I miss?  Second: if you disagree tell me how you think the task of improving the Sixers (or any team for that matter) should be attacked?

Looking at the Sixers Roster

Now thinking about the Sixers roster and potential trades, who do we have on the roster that could fill one of those roles EFFECTIVELY?  That is how I would attack making changes, evaluating the current players and team fit.  To get it started here is how I would categorize the current roster.  Note: this is AT BEST what roles they could fill on a championship team in my opinion.

  • Andre Iguodala - Third Banana
  • Elton Brand – Super Sidekick/Rim & Paint Protector/Inside Scorer
  • Samuel Dalembert – Rim & Paint Protector
  • Thaddeus Young – Hustle Man/Third Banana
  • Louis Williams – Microwave/Third Banana
  • Willie Green – Microwave/Hustle Man
  • Andre Miller – Third Banana
  • Marreese Speights – Rim & Paint Protector/Third Banana
  • Reggie Evans – Hustle Man
  • Theo Ratliff – Rim & Paint Protector
  • Donyell Marshall – Clutch Sharpshooter
  • Royal Ivey – In-Your-Shirt Defender/Hustle Man
  • Kareem Rush – N/A
  • Jason Smith – N/A

Obviously some of the younger guys could improve but right now that is where I see their potential.  Also, just because I put them in the category doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to upgrade in any one area.  Some are borderline as it is.  Clearly we don’t have enough shooters, strong enough perimeter defenders and most importantly we don’t have the unquestioned superstar, which I repeat is mandatory.

Now thinking about trades what would you do with all that in mind?  I look at trades in three ways:

  1. Cap space
  2. Improve the team immediately
  3. Future improvement/considerations

I would make moves that clear enough cap to aggressively acquire a superstar player to lead this team either via free agency or through trade.  This team has no clear leader and no go-to player - two things that are a must if you want to compete for more than a first round playoff loss.  The unquestioned star, super sidekick and third banana should represent 50% or more of your total payroll.  Right now the Sixers have 4 players making $10M or more and none are a dominant player.  That is a problem that needs to be corrected ASAP.  Brand’s and Iguodala’s salaries right now really aren’t that bad (towards the end of the contracts is a different story) as second and third level supporting players.  But Miller and Dalembert’s salaries (roughly $20 million this season) should really be going to that number one guy in my opinion.

The Sixers’ player moves have been ass backwards.  Once they traded Allen Iverson away the #1 goal should have been to replace him with a different player of the same caliber.  They have not done that to this point.  You do everything in your power to get that franchise caliber player FIRST, then you build around him.  It’s easier that way because you aren’t suck trying to find a superstar that fits in one or two positions you have open on your roster.  You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of that guy in order to make the best personnel decisions in support of that player. I.E. surrounding LeBron with shooters, pairing a strong post player with an equally strong perimeter player etc.

Right now the Sixers are trying to build a contender using the Detroit model and I just don’t believe that is going to work.  Their past drafting mistakes (passing on Dirk and Pierce) are still haunting us.

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Comments

  1. gcl138 says:

    I dont know when it will happen, but I think a team in the playoff hunt that honestly has a chance will want a player like Reggie Evans.  He is the type of player that gives his all every second.  Just look how he played last night.  He may not be a scorer, but a good team all ready has that.  He brings hard nose attitude that a good team lacking that (Lakers) will need going into the playoffs.  I honestly would not like to see him go, but he does make a lot of money for the player he is.  Could A. Miller and him traded out give us more cap room, or should we stop clearing cap and look for a young player in return.   I think it will be over all very hard to make trades with the team we have.  But I guess in ES we trust.

  2. Kevin says:

    The thing to love about the NBA is that anyone can be traded, no matter how bad the contract.  It may be hard to make some moves, but not impossible.  I would be shocked if Andre Miller is not moved.

  3. guest says:

    I disagree with all scenarios trading Lou, Thad, Iggy, or Brand.  Dannie, can we win with those 4 players in significant roles?

    A good example of a trade when the team just got a little bit better…would be the Suns trading for Shaq.

    A good example of a trade when the team got championship ready… would be the Lakers with Pau Gasol.

  4. Dannie says:

    Guest – you can disagree with whatever you want but eventually results will dictate what goes on.  I don’t think anyone on this team should be deemed untouchable.  I think that term should only be reserved for the likes of Kobe, LeBron Wade, Paul, Deron Williams etc.

    Can the Sixers win with those guys?  I thought so before the season, but “win” is relative.  Win what?  A championship?  Not without a superstar player – absolutely NOT.  A playoff series or two?  Maybe, depending on the other supporting players around them and playing at peak performance.

    I would still like to see them on the court a bit more with a new coach and style of play on both ends of the floor.  But my patience is short.  If it doesn’t work then making a major move will be necessary to get out of mediocrity.  I am not emotionally attached to these players as some people are.  What I am emotionally drawn to are wins and I don’t see very many with the guys you just listed.

    I will say this again the Sixers in NO WAY are like those other teams you listed.  As I said in the post the Sixers are working backwards.  Phoenix was already a 50-win team with Nash and Stoudamire before acquiring Shaq as that “last piece” to try and get them over the hump that was San Antonio.  The Sixers don’t have a single player on that level of those two players.

    The Lakers obviously already had Kobe and were building around him.  They are doing it the right way.

    Who are the Sixers building around?  No one in my mind.  And if they are trying to build around 29-year-old (turning 30 in March) Elton Brand and a role player in Andre Iguodala they are doing it the wrong way in my opinion.

  5. RRose says:

    What would this team look like had the Sixers went after Josh Smith and Baron Davis instead of signing Brand and Iggy?  Much more dynamic and offensive.  Playing baron off the ball with A Miller running the point, lou off the bench.   That would have improved dribble penetration and 3 point shooting.  Also a clutch shooter in crunch time.   I know these players aren’t available now but its what the Sixers should look for either in trade or next season. 

  6. Dannie says:

    RRose – Baron Davis looks horrible this season and I question his work ethic and body considering the history of being hurt.  He is a weaker version of Allen Iverson who shoots far too many threes considering the rate he makes them (5 per game at 32.4% = not very good).  Also doesn’t help the Sixers turnover problem even a little bit and makes them weaker defensively.

    Josh Smith, here we go again with this.  How does Josh Smith help the Sixers win games compared to Brand?  Both have been hurt this season.  He doesn’t help the Sixers in the half court offense because he isn’t a post up player.  He is a power forward/small forward that shoots 26% from three and 44% from the field.  And he isn’t as good a rebounder as brand either.  He helps defensively, is younger and is more athletic so he is in support of the fast break (which ISN’T a problem with this team right now).  Those are the only advantages I see with Smith compared to Brand.

    So basically the we would have added two players that help the Sixers continue to shoot the ball poorly from the field every night, doesn’t help the turnover problem or the inside scoring problem.  But at least they would be fun to watch lose.

  7. RRose says:

    You support your point well.  One thing I’ll say its not fun watching them lose right now.  How many exciting games have you seen so far? I turned the game off midway 3rd qtr. against the jazz couldn’t take it.  Besides Dileo its the same coaching staff, same poorly run plays, same inconsistent shooting from their best players.  I just want something anything resembling a talented basketball team to watch.  They fast break to roughly 20 points a game, top 5 in offensive rebounding but bottom in free throw %, turnovers and 3pt %.   Sixers missed close to 11 free throws against the nuggets.  11?  I would rather see a fun to watch team losing then a bad team getting blown out regularly.

  8. deepsixersuede says:

    Dannie, just saw Benjamin Button and after reading your article I wish he and M. Malone were both growing younger. If I was a gambler I would roll the dice for draft picks as much as cap space. We are in too deep salary wise to retool without blowing it up. I put this scenerio out there before but I!ll repeat it. Move Sammy for expiring contracts [less likely with Krstic signing] and a #1 and move A.Miller for McCants , J.Collins [6.2 expiring] and one of Minn.s! 4   #1 picks and go after Rasheed this summer along with letting E.S. have the ammo on draft night [3 #1 picks] to try and get a stud.

  9. Dan says:

    Add in the fact that even we had offered Josh Smith a max contract and went after him instead of Brand, Atlanta would have still resigned him!!!! They never were going to let him get away.

  10. Dannie says:

    RRose – I feel you.  Team sucks right now and I have partial season tickets so I am there for half the home games watching the slop they call professional basketball.

    The worst thing that could have happened to the Sixers was Brand getting hurt.  Because all that does is postpone change.  I could very easily see Stefanski not doing anything because he doesn’t have the chance to evaluate the team at full strength right now.

    I hope he is savvy enough to make a beneficial move even with Brand out all this time.

  11. deepsixersuede says:

    Dannie, a small tweaking may be all E.S. will do until Elton can come back. Houston is expecting to challenge out west and come playoff time a backup big [Theo] and a defensive stopper [Ivey] at p.g. could come in handy against T.Parker and C.Paul. Getting back either a #1 or L.Head may help a bit.

  12. Dannie says:

    Suede – I get the draft pick thought but you have to look at the players that will be available before going with that strategy.  There aren’t any obvious Kobes, Howards, James, Wade or Bosh type players.  And to a lesser degree I don’t even think there are any Derrick rose caliber players either.  So stockpiling draft picks in my mind would serve to get more supporting players.  The Sixers need a superstar.  It’s hard but possible with some savvy GM work and roster/cap manuevering.

  13. Dannie says:

    Suede – FYI: Houston just signed Dikembe Mutombo for the remainder of the season.

  14. guest says:

    Dannie, I was just trying to give examples of what you said in the post about how we can’t trade just to get a little bit better.  Thats what I think the Suns did.  And how the Lakers made a trade where they became a lot better with Pau Gasol.  In no way do I think the Sixers are even close to those teams levels.

    I don’t think we can win a championship with those 4 players but why did we make it a must to sign those players in the off season if we arent going to keep them.  Thats why I want to keep those four players.

  15. BoomDizzle says:

    Let’s try this whole “having cap space” situation again.  Here’s one trade:

    Philadelphia gets: Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract
    Cleveland gets: Elton Brand

    The sad part is the longer I consider it the better it looks

  16. guest says:

    Its like you said.  Every move has to be in favor of winning a championship.  If we trade one of those players and it gives us a better shot, than im all for it.

    I will admit that I am emotionally attatched AI so I am kind of biased towards trading him.  But Im in favor of winning.  I just dont get why we signed all of those players just to shake up our complete roster.

  17. deepsixersuede says:

    Boomdizzle, I hear ya; gets depressing doesn!t it. I think if you get 3 2nd bananas it is possible though. I am hoping Thad and L.Will. can become 20 ppg. players and we get a starting p.g. in the draft to go along with them. If you think about it there are only 3 to 4 top players now so everyone else is playing for 2nd place.

  18. deepsixersuede says:

    Dannie, using your theory I believe as a G.M. you target a year ,similar to the Knicks and clear contracts that aren!t your core but go past that, while getting younger inexpensive pieces or draft picks along the way. Sounds tough and it is because you want to remain competitive also, like the Knicks are trying to do. We are a team with an excess in 3rd bananas , as you call them, so that is where I would deal from as far as giving up value. As always, I need your opinion on if the other team would do this. Sammy, Iggy, and Willie for B.Miller, M.Moore,Salmons and D. Greene. Sac. ends up with a Udrih,K.Martin,Iggy,Hawes and Sammy starting five and frees up time for Thompson. We end up with a A.Miller[ till he is moved] Salmons,Young ,Brand and Miller starting five and 16 mill. off the cap in 2 years, that would be a plan that along with using A.Miller in the same way[contracts no longer than 2 years] would get us in position.

  19. deepsixersuede says:

    Part 2; A.Miller to Minn. for B.Cardinal, C.Brewer and a #1 pick [they have 4 this year]. We now have a young core of L.Will.,Thad,Brewer,Salmons,Spieghts,J.Smith, D.Greene; veterens in Brand [2nd banana] Evans [energy guy]  and 2  #1 picks this year and 22 mill. cap space in 2 years.

  20. deepsixersuede,

    as I understand it 2 third bananas do not = one super sidekick and 3 third bananas do not = one superstar

    However I think (again) folks on this board are too down on our own talent.  AI2 is clearly IMHO a super sidekick a perfect #2 guy. He is not a leader, but has the skill and temperment to be a #2 guy.

    Personally I thought Elton Brand was a superstar and our #1 guy, with luck once his nagging injuries go away, he is exactly that.  Of course that means the coach will have to structure a game and team around Brand.

    That leaves the “clutch sharpshooter”  as the only role we need to fill, and I think ES can find that person

    This team is actually pretty close to a title

  21. deepsixersuede says:

    Mike, I don!t see this team in the next 2 years competing with Boston or the Lakers. If A.Miller isn!t resigned that is a major step back. A senoir p.g. in college [Collison?] would have less difficulty adjusting to the N.B.A. than a younger p.g. but still a big adjustment. I still want a L.Will. and A.Miller starting backcourt NOW to see if they click because I think L.Will. could become a J.Terry type score with 30 minutes a night. A A.Miller/L.Will./Iggy/Elton/Sam lineup could win a round and possible 2 but that is if they click which is a lot to ask. The above was using Dannie!s theory and running with it.

  22. Dannie says:

    Mike – No, Elton Brand is not an elite superstar.  Elton Brand is a solid player that has never really been dominant – consistently good, but not dominant.  Superstar players are dominant.  They are great or at the very least on the verge of greatness.  And greatness wins championships, just go through recent history of the last 30 years and see how many teams won a chip without a unquestioned hall-of-fame player.  I have two teams in mind.

    Where do you see that in Brand?  He’s only been to two all-star games in his career which means to the coaches he hasn’t been one of the three best power forwards in his conference for most of his career.  I like Brand he is a worker with talent that made the most of his slightly shorter stature at the position but he isn’t a number one guy on a championship team at all.

    About Iguodala, give me a break.  Let me put it to you like this go through the top say 16 NBA teams and compare Iguodala to who you think is the #2 on those rosters.  Then come back and talk to me.

  23. deepsixersuede says:

    1] K.Bryant,P.Gasol, A.Bynum    2] K.Garnett,P.Pierce,R.Allen  3]T.Duncan, M.Ginobli,T.Parker   4]Y.Ming, R.Artest,T.McGrady   5]D.Howard,R.Lewis, H.Turkoglu   6] L.James,Z.Ilgauskas, M.Williams   7] C.Paul,D.West, T.Chandler  8] D.Williams,C.Boozer,M.Okur   9] J.Johnson, A.Horford,M.Bibby   10] B.Roy,L.Aldridge, G.Oden   11] A.Stoudemire, Shaq,S.Nash   12] R.Wallace,T.Prince, R.Hamilton   13]C.Anthony,C.Billups, Nene   14] C.Bosh, J.Oniell,J.Calderon  15]A.Bogut,M.Redd, R.Jefferson   16] D.Wade,S.Marion,M.Beasley   17]C.Butler,A.Jamison,G.Arenas   18] D.Nowitzki,J.Howard, J.Kidd   19] E.Brand,A.Miller, Iggy ?  You may disagree with the order, you may disagree with the players selected for each team, but you can!t disagree we are far away.

  24. AaronMcKie4MVP says:

    im not writing off the Brand signing just yet. i knew the risks when we signed him and was all for it. Brand was doing some good things for us and just starting to get back to 100% when he went down. sure, i would like more scoring but at least he wasnt totally letting me down. thats the difference between his signing and Iggy. Iggy is just a total bust. the guy kills us with TOs and horrendous shot selection, and hurts us in crunch time – not attributes that you want to throw $14mm at. We are stuck with his stinky contract and we will never build a winner with him as a main piece. unless we draft superstars that can make an immediate impact while under their 3 yr bargain contracts, this team is going nowhere. at the end of the day we only have ~$70mm in payroll to divide among our roster. $14mm is too big a proportion for mediocrity

  25. Kevin says:

    My problem is the people that want to preach patience in regards to Igoudala.  Quick turnarounds dont happen often in the NBA, there is a slow process to getting better each year, so time is very valuable.  So how long do you wait to decide that resigning Igoudala was a mistake.  You wait the rest of the season, two seasons, three.  Either way you are going to come to the same conclusion, Igoudala dont fit with Brand, and it was a mistake to resign him.
    ES blew it this offseason.  Either you resign Igoudala and go with Josh Smith, and go all out on this pressure defense/high octane offense idea.  Or you sign Brand and put shooters around him.  Signing both just doesnt make sense.  It’s kinda like AR wanting to throw the football all the time, but not bring in a #1 receiver.  Either you go all out on your system or you go with another, but you dont half build a team with different systems.

  26. Zack says:

    AaronMcKie4MVP – you ARE good at bashing Iguodala.  Who do you like on this team?

    Dannie – You’re right, the goal is to win a championship, but it’s also the goal of the other GMs in this league and except for Memphis they’re not just gonna hand over their really good players to other teams for less than equal value.  So basically all you’ve got left are lateral trades talent-wise.  And I say go ahead and do those trades if your team is not performing as well as you thought they would because you’re looking for better fits than you have now.  In the opinion of several commentors, we have a lot of those bad fits right now.

    What’s your retrospective on the McKie/Ratliff for Jerry Stackhouse trade?  I’d say that was a lateral move talent-wise, and it broke that NBA rule of thumb where you always try to get the best player in a deal.  But it really worked out for the Sixers because McKie and Ratliff were just better fits around Allen Iverson.  I think some of the lateral trades that have been mentioned have that potential.  Another example is what they’ve done in Cleveland – look at what the singular addition of Mo Williams has done for that club.  Sure, Mo Williams looks good now on Cleveland, but when he was in Milwaukee he as impressive.  You just never know what kind of situation will bring out the best in a player, so Stefanski should make an educated guesses about which underperforming players on other teams would do well here in Philadelphia and try to get them for the underperforming players we have now.

    If Stefanski can make a trade that makes this team just a little bit better, not championship-level better, but gets them more wins, you do it.  Why?  Because I’m a big believer in just simply going in the right direction, which the Sixers are not.  I’d be happy with a trade that would improve their record just a little, wouldn’t you?  And then after that, you make another small trade that would improve your record just a little, and then another after that, and in time you’re one of the NBA’s powerhouse teams.

    BTW, the Sixers reward their fans with a win tonight (gotta show Depressed Fan and Kate Fagan how it’s really done).  I’d love to get into details, but I gotta run.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVERYONE!!!

  27. Fred says:

    I think the impracticality in the ground rules you laid out is that there are a very finite number of Unquestioned Superstars (US).  Teams that have them are not going to be interested in letting them go until they realize (retrospectively in most cases) that the US is nearing the end of their prime (KG, AI, Barkley), or past it (too many to name – Billy King loved these deals though).  If an in their prime US somehow does become available (i.e. upcoming Lebron sweepstakes) you will have to mortgage your future (and present) to be in the running for likely a small window… and it is still a huge gamble. That leaves you with the ground up way to build a team.  It’s boring and doesn’t make for good blogging, but you have to focus on what is in your control – Scouting/drafting/lateral moves via trades and free agency (the Gasol trade was a joke and not something I would bank on replicating)/coaching (in-game and player development).  When you don’t find that superstar you were trying to build around in the draft (i.e. Vast majority of US’s you mentioned stayed on the team that drafted them MJ, Bird, Magic, Lebron, Kobe, Wade, Chris Paul), you have to work with what you have (i.e. Detroit hoped Darko would be a superstar, but they managed to win without him and without a US).  As painful as it is considering expectations for the Sixers at the beginning of this season, you do need to be more realistic about this.  Calculated gambles on up an comers blossoming (Igoudala got Joe Johnson money but hasn’t delivered the game), free agents holding on to their prime (Brand) and sound drafting are our best bets at getting this team over the hump to contender status.       

  28. deepsixersuede says:

    For right now a move to add a player that helps our biggest asset [Elton] would be nice. If you look at Okafor!s numbers since Diaw was brought in there is a big difference [16 ppg.]. He seems to WORK next to Okafor ,like Zack!s trade example helped that Sixer team. I personally don!t expect a major move, in fact I think with pickings slim at the p.g., they may resign A.Miller, but adding one shooter that gets major minutes would be that “step in the right direction”.

  29. Dannie says:

    Fred – I didn’t say it was easy did I?  And I’ve said many times on this blog you have to be lucky as well as smart to win a championship.  Not to mention often becoming really bad before getting really good.

    You call it being impractically I call it being realistic.  Fact or what I consider as proven history: You MUST have a unquestioned superstar to win a championship.  Like I told Mike D. just look at the last 30 years.  Impracticable as it sounds that is what history bares out.  The two teams in my mind that accomplished it without a MJ, Magic, Bird type player are  Detroit and the Supersonics back in 1979 with three really good players and a great coach in Lenny Wilkins.

    I am personally not a believer in the Detroit model (3-4 strong players and good role guys) because I always think the US tips the scale almost every time the other way, but if the practical or realistic strategy as you say is for the Sixers to go that rout fine.  But that means they have to upgrade their overall talent (not simply lateral moves, upgrade) and player mix before we can even considering being on the level of that Detroit team.

    For one, Sheed although not an unquestioned star persay, has been well thought of as an elite level of talent.  The Sixers don’t even have that caliber player on the squad.  I agree, the rest is about strong scouting and evaluating of players that fit together like a glove.  Then you need the right coach to make it all work and implement a winning style on both sides of the ball.

    In the end for me there just isn’t enough talent on this team to compete with the best teams in the league and we were sold Elton Brand and Iguodala as the leaders of a contending level team.