Instead of loading stars, the Warriors and the Celtics find another way to win

Instead of loading stars, the Warriors and the Celtics find another way to win

You see the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and there’s a tendency to catch your eye.

The Big 3 started in Boston in 2008 by Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, a super-team domino effect that blasted into Kevin Durant as he left Oklahoma City and headed to the Bay Area to create the era of the “supervillain” warrior dynasty that defined the era.

But don’t make it crooked. What you’ll see over the next two weeks isn’t super teams, punctuated by what has become the super team era. In fact, they are anti-super teams, built on crafting and development, not a free agency and collaborating with fellow all-stars.

To better understand the two remaining teams standing, you need to remember who walked away from them.

Kevin Durant and Keri Irving left these teams to join forces. Soon, the teams they left are strong and facing each other in the finals.

In the 2019 NBA off-season, Irving left Boston (via free agency) and Durant left Golden State (via signing and commerce). The All-Star duo teamed up in Brooklyn and the Nets were immediately linked with the title favorite once Durant returned healthy. This was further enhanced when their all-star friend James Harden joined the team.

Obviously, we now know that not every superhero team is created equal because the networks were far from great.

On the contrary, the two teams that had left returned to the championship level. why? The championship formula based on patience and prudence still applies even though we are currently in the Microwave On Demand community.

The biggest reason these two teams are in the NBA Finals is because of the focus on the draft. The best players on each team are homegrown.

This is the first time since 1998 that the top three scorers on both teams have appeared in the NBA Finals with their team.

Andrew Wiggins and Al Horford are the only freshmen who will be speaking about opening advice on Thursday that hasn’t been couched by their current employer.

Celtics players forged by the franchise

In addition to getting some lottery picks, both teams have also pinned late draft picks, which is something you should master when you’re a contender. The fact that Jordan Paul, Draymond Green, Kevin Looney, Robert Williams, Grant Williams and Peyton Pritchard have all been taken out of the lottery, and are all rotating players in the NBA Finals, is the reason these teams were created for continued success.

Warriors forged by the franchise

Note: James Wiseman (#2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft) has not played this season. He is recovering from surgery on his right knee after the 2020-21 season.

Focusing on the draft and prioritizing player retention has benefits in multiple ways.

Do you remember that the New Orleans Pelicans wanted to buy a draft and include Jason Tatum in any trade for Anthony Davis? Now Tatum is the first player in the NBA.

Remember earlier this season when Boston was 20-21 years old and people were calling for the Celtics to break up Jaylen Brown and Tatum at the trade deadline? Now, these two players are the leading scoring duo in the NBA Playoffs and the Celtics are the first team in the past 40 years to reach the NBA Finals after being under 0.500 midway through the season.

These rumors aren’t much different from those calling for the Warriors to break up the Splash Brothers and trade Klay Thompson and possibly Green for Kevin Love to help Stephen Curry break through.

The trio of Curry, Thompson and Green are now heading into their sixth NBA Finals, becoming the first trio to do so in the last 59 seasons. But they were on the verge of splitting before they reached the first stage.

Bob Myers, general manager of Warriors, and owner Joe Lacope, didn’t concede with rising expectations.

Two years ago, the Warriors had the worst record in the NBA. Last year, they missed the playoffs after losing both games. While a lot of that was due to a backlog of injuries, it was easy to overreact and blow things up because the dynasty was over.

The Warriors are now the fourth team in NBA history to go from the worst record holder to the NBA Finals in three seasons. They could be the first to do that and win the championship.

The similarities are not only in what the franchisees did but in what they did not do. Show patience. When talk shows in the studio criticized them, they didn’t hold back. They didn’t take things apart. They did not mortgage their future, mortgage capital and ceiling space to sign another star. They have rolled up their sleeves and developed stars in their role on their roster to help their current superstars compete at a high level.

The element people miss about super teams is that championship teams aren’t built overnight. But when it pays off, it’s rooted in defense. There are two sides to the basketball court after all. We mention the offensive numbers of players when they sign up for free agency or are drafted but the defense won trophies long ago. Just because you’re collecting all-stars, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to defend at a high level (see 2022 Nets and Lakers).

Defensive data is colossal: 24 of the last 26 NBA champions were in the top ten in the defensive rankings. The only exceptions were the 2018 Warriors, who finished outside the top ten (11) and the 2001 Lakers (21st).

The streak will continue this year. This is the first NBA Finals to feature two top teams in defensive proficiency since 1996, when the Chicago Bulls beat the Seattle Super Sonics. Just to give yourself a chance to win you have to defend. The four finalists in the conference this year are 1st (Boston), 2nd (Golden State), 4th (Miami) and 7th (Dallas) in team defense.

In an age of oversized offense, having a solid defense is more valuable than ever.

Whether it’s speed and space or load management, the NBA has become very imitated. Teams looking to build a winner would be wise to follow the blueprint for how to build a team like the ones that play in the NBA Finals rather than try their luck at buying one.

The NBA has been distilled to the NBA Jam like star-tier asset management level. But this is not the real condition for winning.

Draft. Develop. Defense. Not much different from what the Milwaukee Bucks did in the 2020-21 championship season. Now the Warriors and the Celtics have taken it to another level and proven what the championship formula could be in the NBA – the question is will anyone else be patient enough to follow suit?

2022-06-02 14:27:00

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