Author Topic: Who is the "worst" player who could be the best player on a championship team?  (Read 720 times)

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Offline keevsnick

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So we often hear about how it takes at bare minimum a top ten NBA player to be real championship contender, famously nearly every title winner in the last 30 years has had a guy who had ALREADY won an MVP on their team (except the Pistons, and technically Raptors/Kawhi).

Who is the "worst" player who could be the best player on a championship team?

You can assume as good a team around them as can reasonably be constructed (ie it can't be 11 other all stars). You can assume a fictional team well crafted to their particular skills. You can also assume a NBA playoffs with about an average quality of opponents (ie you dont have to play the 16-19 warriors). And lets also assume a perfectly healthy NBA.

To facilitate here is a quick list of 1-16 NBA players this year (from Bleacher report). I added Durant and Curry to the list and substracted Middleton (cuz come on) which come out to roughly the top 17 NBA players.

Giannis
Lebron
Kawhi
Harden
Luka
Jokic
Lillard
Davis
Butler
Tatum
Embiid
Chris Paul
KAT
Simmons
George
Durant
Curry

Of course Kawhi, James, Curry, Durant have already done it. So keep that in mind.
So who is the worst you think could lead a otherwise good team to a title? Make your case.


Offline Somebody

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I'll go with the guys who I don't think can be the best player on a championship team as of right now:
Butler
Tatum
Chris Paul (2020 CP3)
Simmons

Btw Middleton might be better than all 4 players I listed, don't underestimate the lad :laugh:
Rockets PG: Westbrook, Rivers, Clemons SG: Harden, Gordon, McLemore
SF: House, Carroll, Caboclo PF: Covington, Green, Williams
C: Tucker, Hartenstein, Bender
Warriors PG: Curry, Jackson, Bowman SG: Thompson, Lee, Poole
SF: Wiggins, Okoro, Anderson PF: Green, Paschall, MKG
C: Looney, Chriss, Smiley

Online gouki88

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Of that list I'm going to immediately cut out the guys who have proven themselves to be 'the guy'. So that's LeBron, Kawhi, Curry & Durant.

In the next bracket are guys who it only seems a matter of time before they do, based on their talent level. For me, those guys are Giannis, Luka, AD and Harden. I'm not saying they're all sure things, but rather they comfortably have the talent to be 'the guy'.

Then there's the next tier. Guys with either obvious flaws, but All-NBA talent is definitely there. That includes KAT (defence), Jokic (defence), Lillard (defence / help), and Embiid (conditioning & health). I think that some of these guys definitely could win a ring, they just need certain pieces around them. Jokic needs a better partner than Murray, KAT needs a better situation in general, etc etc.

My next tier after that is young guys on the right path. Out of those listed, that's just Tatum. I don't think Simmons is on the right path, as he hasn't really made strides so far, and I view Tatum as having Kobe-esque potential, whereas Simmons is more of a bigger, worse halfcourt Rondo.

Finally, after that, are guys either too old, or too old to develop the ability to be 'the guy'. This is CP3, Butler & PG13.

So, I would list it, in order of most likely to be 'the guy' on a ring winning team to least likely as it stands now:
Kawhi
Giannis
Luka
LeBron
Davis
Harden
Durant
Curry
Jokic
Lillard

KAT
Tatum
Embiid
Butler
CP3
Simmons

Above the line are those I think capable of being the guy as it stands right now

Offline GreenShooter

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Maybe I'm just not awake but Siakam didn't make the list?

Offline DefenseWinsChamps

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I never understood these lists. I think people mistake causation for correlation with lists like these. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The championship quality superstar or the championship?

It's always about narrative. Leading up to a new championship superstar, the narrative is normally, "Is he truly a champion?" Afterwards, there is always a shift that recognizes the talent that was always there. This happened with Dirk. It also happened with Old Duncan, Parker, and Manu. It also kinda' happened with Kobe and his last two championships (Is he good enough to win without Shaq?).

It's all narrative. Frankly, it's narrative that can easily shift with a bounce of the ball. For example, if Leonard's fade away corner shot bounces out last year, what narrative would be around him? I don't trust the narrative to tell me if a team or player is good enough to win.

Offline keevsnick

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I never understood these lists. I think people mistake causation for correlation with lists like these. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The championship quality superstar or the championship?

It's always about narrative. Leading up to a new championship superstar, the narrative is normally, "Is he truly a champion?" Afterwards, there is always a shift that recognizes the talent that was always there. This happened with Dirk. It also happened with Old Duncan, Parker, and Manu. It also kinda' happened with Kobe and his last two championships (Is he good enough to win without Shaq?).

It's all narrative. Frankly, it's narrative that can easily shift with a bounce of the ball. For example, if Leonard's fade away corner shot bounces out last year, what narrative would be around him? I don't trust the narrative to tell me if a team or player is good enough to win.

Completely disagree. Again almost every championship in the last 30 years had an MVP on their roster BEFORE they won. That means narrative had almost nothing to do with deciding how we viewed that player they were already regarded as one of the premier players in the league before any narrative took effect.

The only guy you could make the narrative argument  for is Kawhi, but he still had DPOY award and all nba teams before his championship.

Offline keevsnick

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Maybe I'm just not awake but Siakam didn't make the list?

Feel free to make a case for him, I have to draw a line somewhere.

Offline DefenseWinsChamps

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I never understood these lists. I think people mistake causation for correlation with lists like these. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The championship quality superstar or the championship?

It's always about narrative. Leading up to a new championship superstar, the narrative is normally, "Is he truly a champion?" Afterwards, there is always a shift that recognizes the talent that was always there. This happened with Dirk. It also happened with Old Duncan, Parker, and Manu. It also kinda' happened with Kobe and his last two championships (Is he good enough to win without Shaq?).

It's all narrative. Frankly, it's narrative that can easily shift with a bounce of the ball. For example, if Leonard's fade away corner shot bounces out last year, what narrative would be around him? I don't trust the narrative to tell me if a team or player is good enough to win.

Completely disagree. Again almost every championship in the last 30 years had an MVP on their roster BEFORE they won. That means narrative had almost nothing to do with deciding how we viewed that player they were already regarded as one of the premier players in the league before any narrative took effect.

The only guy you could make the narrative argument  for is Kawhi, but he still had DPOY award and all nba teams before his championship.

Yes, but this was still a big-time narrative about Dirk, or Old-Duncan, or somewhat Kobe. Awards are not great measurements of what makes a championship-quality star. I love Westbrook, but I don't think he can be the primary engine in a championship team. But he won an MVP.

Plenty of awards are given to players that aren't really justified. More and more people recognize that the MVP award is mostly about narrative. In a real way, you could argue Lebron deserves 80% of the MVP awards over the last 12 years.

An award isn't really a good measurement for a championship quality superstar, because it is so narrative-driven and subjective.

Offline keevsnick

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I never understood these lists. I think people mistake causation for correlation with lists like these. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The championship quality superstar or the championship?

It's always about narrative. Leading up to a new championship superstar, the narrative is normally, "Is he truly a champion?" Afterwards, there is always a shift that recognizes the talent that was always there. This happened with Dirk. It also happened with Old Duncan, Parker, and Manu. It also kinda' happened with Kobe and his last two championships (Is he good enough to win without Shaq?).

It's all narrative. Frankly, it's narrative that can easily shift with a bounce of the ball. For example, if Leonard's fade away corner shot bounces out last year, what narrative would be around him? I don't trust the narrative to tell me if a team or player is good enough to win.

Completely disagree. Again almost every championship in the last 30 years had an MVP on their roster BEFORE they won. That means narrative had almost nothing to do with deciding how we viewed that player they were already regarded as one of the premier players in the league before any narrative took effect.

The only guy you could make the narrative argument  for is Kawhi, but he still had DPOY award and all nba teams before his championship.

Yes, but this was still a big-time narrative about Dirk, or Old-Duncan, or somewhat Kobe. Awards are not great measurements of what makes a championship-quality star. I love Westbrook, but I don't think he can be the primary engine in a championship team. But he won an MVP.

Plenty of awards are given to players that aren't really justified. More and more people recognize that the MVP award is mostly about narrative. In a real way, you could argue Lebron deserves 80% of the MVP awards over the last 12 years.

An award isn't really a good measurement for a championship quality superstar, because it is so narrative-driven and subjective.

I mean you say that, but as I've already pointed the MVP has actually been a pretty good baseline indicator. Now maybe not EVERY MVP is good enough to be the best player on a championship, and not EVERY champion needs and MVP. But thats why I made this thread.

Offline DefenseWinsChamps

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I never understood these lists. I think people mistake causation for correlation with lists like these. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The championship quality superstar or the championship?

It's always about narrative. Leading up to a new championship superstar, the narrative is normally, "Is he truly a champion?" Afterwards, there is always a shift that recognizes the talent that was always there. This happened with Dirk. It also happened with Old Duncan, Parker, and Manu. It also kinda' happened with Kobe and his last two championships (Is he good enough to win without Shaq?).

It's all narrative. Frankly, it's narrative that can easily shift with a bounce of the ball. For example, if Leonard's fade away corner shot bounces out last year, what narrative would be around him? I don't trust the narrative to tell me if a team or player is good enough to win.

Completely disagree. Again almost every championship in the last 30 years had an MVP on their roster BEFORE they won. That means narrative had almost nothing to do with deciding how we viewed that player they were already regarded as one of the premier players in the league before any narrative took effect.

The only guy you could make the narrative argument  for is Kawhi, but he still had DPOY award and all nba teams before his championship.

Yes, but this was still a big-time narrative about Dirk, or Old-Duncan, or somewhat Kobe. Awards are not great measurements of what makes a championship-quality star. I love Westbrook, but I don't think he can be the primary engine in a championship team. But he won an MVP.

Plenty of awards are given to players that aren't really justified. More and more people recognize that the MVP award is mostly about narrative. In a real way, you could argue Lebron deserves 80% of the MVP awards over the last 12 years.

An award isn't really a good measurement for a championship quality superstar, because it is so narrative-driven and subjective.

I mean you say that, but as I've already pointed the MVP has actually been a pretty good baseline indicator. Now maybe not EVERY MVP is good enough to be the best player on a championship, and not EVERY champion needs and MVP. But thats why I made this thread.

I'll concede that you are right in your proposition. My problem isn't necessarily with the proposition you make, but the inferences most fans draw from it.

I think that what these inferences fail to recognize is that sometimes a player makes a championship team, while other times a championship team makes a player's legacy. There are times when the fan narrative catches up and people say that a certain player was a top 10 player as a result of a championship. That's what I mean by correlation not causation.

Offline Csfan1984

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