What history tells us about the top of the top
By Mo Hussain, Sports Reporter
The road to winning an NBA championship is anything but easy. Whether it’s identifying the right talented pieces that fit well into the team or having to deal with 29 other teams constantly coming up with new ways to try to get one step ahead, it can be a very difficult task. However, history shows that there are some common key traits and attributes in championship winning teams that separate them from the pack.
MVP Calibre Player
This one may seem obvious, but it is important to point out that only one team (the Detroit Pistons) over the past 20 years has been able to win an NBA championship without an NBA MVP on their roster. Whether it was the Spurs with Tim Duncan, the Warriors with Stephen Curry, the Heat with LeBron James, etc., every team pretty much has to have an MVP caliber superstar.
The necessity for a superstar among stars is in part because basketball players are much more in control of the outcome of a game than in most other team sports due to the relatively small number of players in each game—and the fact that MVP-calibre players are usually playing 75 percent of the game. Having a player who is, or at least can be argued to be, the most valuable player in the league is essentially a pre-requisite to an NBA championship.
Do not get caught up in the notion that one superstar is enough. History seems to show that it’s also important to have someone (not necessarily another MVP-calibre player) who is a perennial NBA All-star that complements the MVP-calibre player: LeBron James had Anthony Davis with the Lakers, Steph Curry had Kevin Durant with the Warriors, Kawhi Leonard had Kyle Lowry with the Raptors. An individual has a lot more control in the sport of basketball than in other sports, but that doesn’t mean one can neglect to bring in other complementary pieces.
Not many people have been inside NBA locker rooms or really know the kind of impact veterans have on their teams, but history seems to show that having experienced players is a common trait. Over the past 20 years, the average age of the oldest player on a given championship team is roughly 35.4 years old.
The reasons for such a veteran presence can vary depending on each team. A popular theory is that having an older player who isn’t playing as much on a roster might be seen as a stabilizer for the relatively younger players. The wisdom and experience can very much play a key role in helping guide the younger stars on their respective teams to make good decisions on the floor.