Interesting Article on the Importance of Superstars in the NBA

Superstar Theory

i read this article a couple weeks back and then headed out of town. I assumed it would be linked here within hours and I was busy. I'm catching up on the news of the past few weeks and from what I can tell, it hasn't been discussed here at all.

I'd always imagined that a lot of readers here also frequented Real GM but apparently not. Anyway the above article is a good read and a really interesting analysis of whether championship teams key ingredient is superstars or if this has simply been the prevailing theory that everyone subscribes to.

The author uses an interesting methodology to rank players through history and then looks at winners through the years and how they match up with the best players in the game. I think it's well researched and I would urge you to read the entire thing. It's fairly long and a lot of time is spent on the minutia of the player rankings but it helps make the historic ranking piece more logical & believable.

In case people don't want the conclusions revealed I've saved my thoughts on the article until after the jump...




I don't think this article told me anything I didn't know. I've long suspected that big-time superstars were the engine of NBA success and that the role players that are plugged in around them can typically be swapped out without much trouble. We certainly saw this with the Boston teams of the 80's which had numerous changes across the 3 championships; the key pieces though were always there. The 90's Bulls probably exemplified this better than anyone.

What did stand out in reading this though is not just that championship teams have stars but how much this trend also holds for runners-up and conference finalists as well. Sure that part stands to reason but I'd never real thought about the final 4 in the NBA. Heck, I'd be hard pressed to name the final 4 from 3 seasons ago.

The other thought that struck me while reading this is that as fans we tend to ignore the importance of superstars and relative unimportance of 2nd tier players largely because we become attached to the teams we have. When you look at data such as these, it's hard to argue that the Blazers shouldn't package a player like Batum with other assets to go after a Chris Paul. I, myself, have personally argued against this on this very site sighting Paul's likelihood to depart in 2 years but really what gives me pause is the fact that I like watching Nic Batum.

This then made me think a bit harder about what is it that makes going to games most enjoyable for me and where I rank winning a title in terms of importance. Ultimately I think the title just isn't that critical. I'm enjoying watching this Blazers team and its young players get better and provide us with some exciting moments. I highly doubt this particular group will ever win a title, but that doesn't really change my excitement for next year.

I'm interested to see how good Batum can become. I'm curious to see Greg Oden at least stay healthy. Will Bayless play meaningful minutes next to Roy next season? How will Wes Matthews fit in? What will the big man rotation be post All-Star break. I'm excited for all of these things. Frankly I'm happier thinking about their possible outcome than I would be if I learned that the Blazers had packaged Batum / Bayless / Miller / Przybilla for Chris Paul.

The logical part of me would know that this would give the Blazers a much more realistic shot at a title and I certainly couldn't fault management for the move. That said I just don't like Chris Paul but I like the Blazers current core. I think in the end I'd rather watch the guys that have grown up here than chase the small chance of a title.

I also suspect I'm not alone in this. I'd guess there are Thunder fans who will be sad to see Jeff Green go and wish the team had extended him. They too might say they'd rather keep Westbrook & Ibaka even if they were offered Paul for them. This wouldn't make logical sense but I know where they are coming from. They are loving watching their team get better as it gets older and they'd simply miss their guys if they left. In a few years you could see something similar in Sacramento or Washington or any other city that's loading up on young talent and potential.

I'd be interested in reactions not only to the article but on whether or not you'd like to see the Blazers make all necessary moves to acquire an additional Superstar or if you prefer to see your guys stick around, title or not.

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