In part 1 of building a championship we took a look at the importance of each position on an NBA team and gave it a hypothetical value. The breakdown came out like this, (in order of importance) #1 Shooting Guard, #2 Power Forward, #3 Point Guard, #4 Small Forward, #5 Center. Some simple conclusions were made, the point guard and small forward are almost interchangeable in terms of value and championship teams. There has not been an NBA champion with a great center since Shaquille O'neal. The value of a great shooting guard and power forward are unmatched. These two are an absolute must if you want to win a championship. Now lets take a look at a break down of each position and some of the players at each position that could be considered franchise changers or corner stones.
- Point Guard-Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Rajon Rondo, Russel Westbrook, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, John Wall
The names on this list are the best of the best, the kind of point guard that you would want to start your franchise with. There are only a handful of them that are considered "pure" point guards. This position in the NBA has changed and developed into being a slashing, scoring position. Almost a substitute for a good to great shooting guard. There are two names on this list that have won NBA titles and both of those players played more of the "pure point" role, those being Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo. While your team may need a point guard to grind out games and help your team tab wins, you will need a "pure point" to win you a title. Now lets look at how these players got to their respective teams. Eight of these players were drafted by their respective teams, two were acquired in trades. The two that have the titles were drafted by the teams they won those titles with. I think we can safely say that if you are looking for a building block, a team stabilizing force at the point guard position your best chance of getting one is going to be in the draft. These players get drafted a by their teams and teams are reluctant to move them.
- Shooting Guard-James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade
We look at the short list of names on the list and can see why the shooting guard is the most important position. Two of the three players on this list have won multiple NBA titles. When Kobe won his titles, he was arguably the best player in the league. He was a closer and a great defender. Dwayne Wade was a tenacious defender, one of the best finishers in transition and had a knack for knocking down big shots. James Harden is the only name on this list that has not won a title. While Harden is a great offensive player, he is a terrible defender. I mean pedestrian at best. If he wants to join this group of elite talent he will need to improve his defense. Now how did they get to their respective teams? Kobe was a draft day trade to the Lakers, Wade was drafted by Miami and Harden was a trade. While there seems to be many options for acquiring a superstar shooting guard, they are few and far between. To me, it seems wise if you are building a franchise to compete for multiple titles you may want to do it in the draft. The odds of these types of players do not come around very often. So, however you go about getting a shooting guard you must be bold.
- Small Forward-Luol Deng Paul George, Lebron James, Camelo Anthony, Kevin Durant
This group has more names on this list and to be honest may be stretching a bit with the likes of Deng but the small forwards value is just not as necessary as the shooting guards. There is only one name on the is list with a title, Lebron James. He is the best player on the planet. A transcendent talent. We have never seen anyone like him and likely never will again. There are two other names on this list that could be put in the argument for best player behind James. Kevin Durant and Paul George. Both of these players have unbelievable talent and length. George is a great defender and Durant is an underrated defender. Three of these players were drafted by their respective teams. One was a free agent and the other a trade. Small Forward while valuable can be found numerous ways and team can actually do with a serviceable "3&D" type small forward.
- Power Forward-LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Tim Duncan
Again the value of the power forward speaks for itself. Three out of the five players on the list are NBA champions. The way LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trailblazers are playing early this season could put themselves in a position to make it four of five. You have to have a big that can play with his back to the basket, can clean up on the boards and is a capable defender. The one question I have is Kevin Love. He does kill it on two of the three requirements but his defense is lacking. For Love and Wolves to take the next step he needs to be a better defender. Every name on this list, with the exception of Chris Bosh was drafted by their respective teams. If your team has the chance to secure a star power forward in the draft, it is a must. You are not going to see teams let these players get away. You have to have em!
- Center-Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis
This list is an eclectic one. Many different types of players. Back to the basket guys, defenders, fundamentally skilled players, athletes. The one thing that all of these names have in common is defense. By the end of the season, I'm guessing all of these players with the exception of Anthony Davis will have won a Defensive Player of the Year Award. That is clearly the prerequisite for this position, they have to be able to defend and be a rim protector. There is only one name on this list with an NBA title, Tyson Chandler. Funny how much the game has changed in the last 10-15 years. Teams had to have a big physical presence in the middle and it was the most valuable position to have. Not any more..... Three of these players were drafted by their current team. The other two were free agents. It shows again that you can get by with a serviceable defender and you can get them in a variety of ways.
This has been very interesting to go through these names and positions and see how these NBA champions are built. While this doesn't go in to great detail and is not a sure fire formula for a championship, I think it gives some pretty good insight into what it takes to build that team and get there. At this point I think I will turn my attention to this summers draft and see who and what players may be able to fill these valuable positions to building an NBA champion!