The Winners and the Losers

(DA: From the FanPosts)

"Knowing" is a Nichols Cage movie about a time capsule buried at an elementary school in 1959 that contains pictures kids drew around that time. 50 years later, Cage's son is part of the class that gets to open the capsule and examine the things the kids back then left for them to view now. Instead of a drawing, the boy receives a list of numbers that warned, and warns of future disasters to come.

Now, I don't want to get too deep into some psychological thinking with a thread on here, but I will say that I do believe that there are some kind of patterns to life that, if we ever discovered, would allow us to predict certain things, a secret to life, if you may. I feel there is a secret to the NBA as well, and once discovered, the team that finds it will flourish, for eternity. To find this secret, the only thing we need to do is examine who's winning, and who isn't, and find the pattern.

I'll use the three best teams in the league (Cleveland, Orlando, Lakers), vs. the four worst teams in the league (New Jersey, Minnesota, Sacramento, Golden State) to see if I can find this elusive piece of missing information. From there, we should be able to put together a checklist on what makes the good teams good, and the bad teams bad.

The first thing that jumps out to me about the differences in the winners and losers is the age difference. The veteran teams, aka the winners, have a significant advantage in age with the Lakers averaging 27.7 years, the Cleveland Cavaliers averaging 27.8 years, and the Orlando Magic averaging 28.6 years. Meanwhile, on the losers side, the Golden State Warriors are a very youthful 23.2 years of age, Minnesota is at 24.8 years of age, and the Sacramento Kings sit slightly above at 24.9. The Nets are at 26.2

Orlando and Cleveland are probably in better shape over the long haul since LeBron James and Dwight Howard are still only 25 and 24 respectively while Kobe is 31, however,  they should probably all be put on an even level since the Cavs have two key players (Shaquille O'neal and Antwan Jamison) who are on the tail end of their careers and the Magic are leaning heavily on the 33 year old Vince Carter

Meanwhile, back on the losing side of things, there are a lot of young players who are All-Star caliber or have already been in the game (Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, Al Jefferson, Johnny Flynn, Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis). The only problem with this is the lack of a true veteran presence on any team. They are all going through a youth movement, but the lack of proven talents surrounding the young stars inhibits, at least in in the short term, a team's chance to win in the now. A lot of teams taking the rebuilding routes unnecessarily dump solid, contributing veterans in exchange for the chance to build a new. It's always nice to have a good mix of young and older players. The team can be built around a young star, but that doesn't mean that everyone around them has to be younger than them. The veteran presences on the losers don't extend too far beyond Corey Maggette of Golden State and Andres Nocioni of Sacramento. Tyreke-evans-nba-draft_medium

(Note, that as in presence, I mean not just on the team, but also as a solid, contributing part of the main rotation.) So, number 1 on my checklist, is you have to have some age with your team. The NBA is an experienced man's game. No team full of youngsters will ever be able to win the championship, unless they just have an ultra talented team.  (Here come the Thunder!)

NUMBER 1: Veteran players in your rotation. Average age for a team should be somewhere between 27-29 yrs.

The second thing that immediately jumped out to me was their defense. As the old saying goes, defense wins championships, but apparently, it's not too bad either with helping you win regular season games. The Lakers, Cavs, and Magic all rank in the top 7 in defensive efficiency while the losers are all in the bottom 6 in the league. I don't know what it is with defense, some teams are able to get by playing good defense with less talent, but the winners have some absolute monsters. LeBron James and the presence alone of Shaq make them a very tough team to score on, Orlando's whole defense is anchored by, well, you already know who the defensive player of the year is, and the Lakers have two All NBA defenders in Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant. Corey Brewer is turning into a very solid defender for the Wolves, and Big Cat can hold is own down low, but other than that, Minnesota really doesn't have too many people that can defend well. For the Nets, well, they are so young and dynamic that it's hard to really gauge the defensive qualities of their squad. I know Harris is a decent defender at the point, but, other than that, the rest of the squad is questionable. Even Lopez, on a lot of nights, gets tore up by opposing players. I think he and Terrence Williams will be a lot better next year, but as for the other guys.............. And Golden State's lack of defensive efficiency isn't due to just an actual lack of defensive capable players, it's the lunatic Don Nelson 's idea of basketball. I loved that it worked against the Mavericks in that thrilling 1 vs 8 upset, but honestly, that kind of ball will never win a championship. Even if you had one of the elite.

NUMBER 2: You got to be able to play defense. It's been proven year after year that if you don't play defense, you can't win a championship.

The third thing about the teams wasn't so obvious to me at first, but then it became clear. You can't have bad contracts on your team.


This is the category, that unfortunately, slows down the Bobcats. (Diop, you know I'm talking about you). Examining each team's roster, the winners don't have any non-contributing big money players wasting away on the bench while the losers have them on the bench, and in some cases, in the starting line-up. Although there are some overpaid players on each of the winners, they are at least significant parts of the rotation. The worst names that initially comes to mind are Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton, but even they are looked upon as players that can come in and contribute off the bench at any time, and spark the Lakers. The Wolves and the Nets have put themselves in position to shed some horrendous salaries (Tony Battie 6.2, Bobby Simmons 10.6, Mark Blount 7.9, Darko Milicic 7.5) but they will have to be sure to spend the money more wisely next time. Minnesota is actually making the best out of the Brian Cardinal contract.


So, my checklist to building a contender consists of three simple steps. Draft wisely and build your team around younger studs, but keep the veteran influence there on the team. You won't win without it. Choose players who are going to play defense for you. Don't build a team based solely around offensive weapons. You need lock down caliber players because your jump shooting won't always save you. And last but not least, you need to be very wise at managing the salary cap or being able to maneuver out of mistakes you've made in the past. All of these may seem very common sense like, but some teams continue to abandon the theory and make the mistakes again. (Detroit Pistons 21st in defense, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon's 100 million dollar salaries, combined with a youth movement. They are doomed!!!)


Charlie: Lol, aye man, Joe bout dumb as hell to be givin us all that damn money.

Ben: Gotta get paid bruh, hahaha.

Charlie: Let's go get a ham sandwich.

Ben.: Bet that.


(DA: Thanks to Charlotte Bobcat for the post. I feel obligated to point out, again, the four teams that merely made the Finals without a surefire HOFer leading the way. Mostly lifted from an oooooooold post in which I also floated a Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson for Carmelo swap...

1998-99 New York Knicks -- Technically, Patrick Ewing, in his last effective season, led them to the 8 seed, but he succumbed to an Achilles injury after the second game of the Eastern Conference Finals and is mainly remembered for missing the rest of that series and the NBA Finals. It was also a lockout-shortened season, so the final season results aren't as informative about those teams' relative abilities.

1999-00 Indiana Pacers -- Reggie Miller was past his prime, and while Rik Smits was really, really, good, he was also at the end of the line and would retire after the season due to foot injuries. Jalen Rose was also pretty good that season, but none of them played like Hall of Famers that year.

2003-04, 2004-05 Detroit Pistons -- This recent incarnation of the Pistons dynasty had three players who will get Hall of Fame consideration when all is said and done, and a fourth occasional All Star. Chauncey, Rasheed, and Rip will go down as the trio that took down the Lakers Super Team, and Tayshaun will be known as the perfect sidekick for them, perpetually underrated. They are the only team in modern NBA history that actually succeeded at winning a title with the Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts strategery. Of course, those parts were ridiculously good at basketball to begin with.)

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