This Is How My Brain Works...NBA Free Agency
In the midst of this free agency storm, it’s important to remember the equation that wins titles. There are exceptions, but they prove the rule - to win a championship, you need the following formula:
* True #1 - The guy that will take over in the 4th quarter. The guy that is taking the last shot (or will be the perfect decoy). Examples: Jordan, Magic, Bird, Olajuwon, Shaq, Kobe
* Second Banana - A legitimate, stud second option. This guy can carry a team for quarters at a time, and will win your squad at least one game in a series. There needs to be a healthy respect between your #1 and your #2. Examples: Pippen, McHale, Worthy, Drexler, KG, Ginobili, Pau
* Starting Specialist - This guy does at least one thing really well, and is in your starting 5. And this speciality is not limited. Intangibles and hustle both apply, and are preferred. Examples: Paxson, Rodman, late-career Kareem, AC Green, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Derek Fisher and The Great Robert Horry
* Bench Stud - You need at least one guy who’s coming off the bench and bringing something huge. A major contribution. A total puzzle piece that fits. Example: James Posey, PJ Brown, Lamar Odom, Cliff Levingston, Kukoc, James “Buddha” Edwards, Vinnie Johnson, Jerry Sichting, Michael Cooper and The Great Robert Horry
* Role Players - You need to surround these guys with quality guys who know their role.
Now let’s go through, examine and breakdown the free agents this offseason. In order of importance:
LeBron James - LBJ is good enough that, even without following the championship formula, he’ll win a title, and most likely, a couple. He was close the last two years. If the Lakers draw the Cavs in the Finals, I think Cleveland wins, and this Cavs team gave serious minutes to Anthony Parker. The Flakers (I’m a huge Laker fan, but they’re flaky) needed a challenge to rise to, and Boston provided the revenge angle. The Cavs made LA look really bad twice this year. Point is, any crap team with LeBron at the center is probably going to win eventually. He’s that Earth-shaking.
Dwyane Wade - You say he’s a #1, and I suppose I have a difficult time arguing against it. I’ll only say this: if the refs don’t put him on the free throw line 250 times in the ‘05-‘06 Playoffs, including 97 times in the Finals (16+ FTA per game), and 46 FTA in Games 5 & 6, Wade doesn’t have a ring, and what’s your opinion of him. I’m not sure Wade’s better than Karl Malone.
Dirk Nowitzki - Dirk may not have won a title as a #1, but his clutch numbers are very good, and I don’t mind if he’s taking my final shot. Best thing about Dirk is, he’s got #1 chops, and he’s a Euro. Euro ball players grow up learning a team game, so Dirk has no problem playing second fiddle (a la Pau) If he’s a career-long second banana, his resume stinks of championships, and your opinion of him is much different*. If either LeBron or Wade gets Dirk, that team has to be favored to win the title next season.
Chris Bosh - Look back at the second bananas listed above. Chris Bosh is not better than any of them. He’s a third option, with a youtube channel, who thinks of himself as better than the Toronto Raptors. He is athletic and young, which puts him slightly ahead of…
Paul Pierce - I respect his game immensely (except all the “injuries”). He turned himself into a #1 for a spell, but I think age and conditioning are hurting him. Paul could be in better shape, and that’s “The Truth.” Alongside another big-time banana, and he could win a championship next year. But now imagine Paul as a second banana*. Why don’t people talk about him with LeBron or Wade?
Joe Johnson - You think I’m a jerk for putting him here? I loved this Atlanta team. I wanted them to win. Joe Johnson stunk up the Playoffs, and that speaks volumes. He’s no banana. He’s a specialist, and never should have been considered more than that. Don’t get angry at me because someone thought differently.
Amar’e Stoudemire - I’m CERTAIN about this. You cannot win a title with Amar’e as your #2. I’m positive. If you’re a LeBron guy, consider Amar’e your poison. He plays no defense, doesn’t rebound well, has a very limited post game, isn’t overly strong, and is generally undersized at his position. Why do you want him?
Carlos Boozer - Go watch him try to guard Pau from the Playoffs. Pau made him look like a little baby boy. Like a little baby boy who can’t feed himself. A tiny, little baby who uses his little baby boy fingers to play with his little baby toys. Dirk does him the same way. Carlos is short!
David Lee, Luis Scola - These guys are starting specialists through and through. They’re better AC Greens. Sign either, and you get you max effort, a ton of boards, and a good teammate.
Ray Allen - Nobody scared me more in the Finals than Ray. He’s a gamer. World-class shooter, and underrated defender. It’s a shame people ever wanted him to be a #1. If he had 3 or 4 more seasons on a collectively great team, he’s be a &$#%#&@! terror. On the right team, and he could have at least one more title left in him. If I’m LeBron or Wade, I’m giving Ray Ray a jingle jangle.
The Starting Specialists available: JJ Reddick. Mike Miller. Channing Frye. Each can stroke it and has good pedigree.
The Bench Studs available: John Salmons, Rudy Gay, Brad Miller, Al Harrington, and maybe Nate Robinson…
Guess what? If you don’t see your name listed, you’re a stiff.
THE WILD CARDS
Shaq - He’s the most dominant player I’ve ever seen, and until he retires, he’s a difference maker on the right team. There is no question what the best situation is for Daddy. It’s the Lakers. He knows the offense, slides right back into the triangle, gives the Lakers the center depth they need, and he can chase more titles. I even think he’d take the paycut. It just will never happen. Enjoy Dalllas Shaq.
Tracy McGrady - Call me stupid. I think he could be a big piece on a championship team. He could be your fire power off the bench. I remember what Tracy was, and I don’t think he’s done. He’s 31, and if he accepts the role, you’re in a great spot.
THE GREATEST UNKNOWN
Chris Paul - In my opinion, Chris Paul is the third best player in the league (call me stupid again). And here’s the catch: Chris has got enough #1 skills to kill a mighty steed, but because he’s a truly great point guard, he only wants to make his teammates better.
LeBron, Wade and Bosh? Give me LeBron, Dirk and Paul. That’s a &$#%#&@! buzzsaw.