How Is A Championship Team Built?

The Miami Heat were able to acquire most of their roster through free agency.

The 2013 NBA Champion Miami Heat acquired most of their roster through free agency.

By Jonathan Hartzell, NBA.com

There’s been much discussion recently about the proper way for an NBA franchise to rebuild. Many of these discussions have been about teams who appear to purposefully build an inferior roster in order to obtain a high Draft pick. This concept, also known as “tanking,” inspired an entire series by the ESPN TrueHoop Network staff and an excellent rebuttal from Tom Ziller at SB Nation.

The key question raised by all of these articles: What IS the optimal way for an NBA franchise to construct a championship team?

The best way to answer this question is to look at how past champions were constructed.

Here’s a graph that breaks down the roster construction of the past 20 NBA champions (click to enlarge):

 Championship construction

And here’s how the top three players on each team were acquired:

championship construction 2

(EDITOR’S NOTE ON ABOVE TRANSACTIONS: Maxwell was sold to the Houston Rockets by the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 20, 1990; James technically joined the Heat in a sign-and-trade deal that gave the Cavs two future first-round, two future second-round picks, a trade exception and an option to swap first-round picks with Miami in 2012 — which the Cavs passed on. Bosh technically joined the Heat in a sign-and-trade deal that gave the Raptors two first-round picks in the 2011 Draft and a trade exception.)

A few things of note:

  • The 2004 Pistons were incredible. None of their top three players was drafted by the team; Tayshaun Prince and Mehmet Okur were the only players drafted at all by the Pistons.
  • The Pistons and the 2011 Mavericks were the only championship teams over the past 20 years who acquired the majority of their players through trades.
  • The importance of the Draft is clear. Outside of those pesky Pistons, each championship team drafted either their best or second-best player. I labeled both Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant as drafted by their current teams even though they were drafted by other teams (Milwaukee and Charlotte, respectively) and traded on Draft night or, in Kobe’s case, shortly thereafter.
  • The Heat started a new trend of how to build a champion with the majority of their players being acquired through free agency. This has a lot to do with the roster purge they experienced during the summer of 2010 when they cleared significant roster space to re-sign Dwyane Wade and sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Overall, the general construction of these squads seems to be quite basic. Draft a superstar, trade for players who fit well with said superstar, sign supporting role players and, boom … championship. Sounds easy enough.

But it’s obviously not that easy, considering only eight franchises have been able to crack the code over the last twenty seasons.

It’s clear, though, that the first and most important step in building a championship roster is acquiring a superstar. Unfortunately, superstars are rare. So for most franchises that are not located in a hugely desirable free-agent destination, or can’t swing a blockbuster trade, the only way to acquire one is through the Draft.

63 Comments

  1. CJ says:

    Greg you sound like a bitter and arrogant Spurs fan. At least give the 03-04 Pistons some credit. Most of the players they acquired on the team were rejects and discards of other teams. Larry Brown and the players made themselves relevant.

  2. Jimbo says:

    I don’t know why I responded to this inane article but a sign-and-trade is just that. The former free agent is signed and traded, hence James and Bosh are really trades, not free agents. So… what is the point of this article ??

  3. es says:

    you don’t include Ben Wallace in the top three 2004 pistons?

  4. JMaine says:

    Dose not matter which way you go about bulilding a championship team as long as it done by the rules. With that said, i respect every team that wins a ring. It takes hard work. cry all you want because your team can’t get right. Let it be by trade, draft, or free agency. still have to put to work in. And whats all this BS about teams developing players, Please. Bulls didn’t develop Jordan, Jordan put in the work and time and had the drive to be great, don’t mistake that for a team developing players. Only two teams I see in the NBA that develop players is the Spurs and Pacers. Teams build a Championship team by any means given to them. looks to me that it’s a pretty much a right mixture of all three that help you build a Championship team, and level of players you acquire however you do it within the rules. Respect more for teams that develop players makes me laugh. Spurs win because they’re one of a kind. It must be hard to enjoy the NBA if you look at it like that. i don’t care how you do it just get the job done.

  5. JW says:

    Scottie Pippen was actually Drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics and traded to the Bulls on draft day.

  6. AK says:

    Kobe wasn’t drafted by the Lakers. The Charlotte Hornets drafted him originally, before he was traded to the Lakers on draft day.

  7. Amused says:

    So, if history is any indication–and 20 years is a pretty good sample size–you have to have a solid, All-Star-level draftee. From Dream, to Jordan, to Tim, to Kobe, to Wade, to Pierce, to Dirk, back to Wade (and no, the Heat would not have won with LeBron but not Wade, because LeBron would NEVER have taken his talents to South Beach had Wade not already been there)…all of these franchises had an outstanding player they basically started with, then built around. The only exception was the 2004 Pistons, and they won largely because Kobe and Shaq hated each other’s guts and the Mailman stopped delivering. Meanwhile, all of this can only mean one thing: all these Rockets fans talking championship already, since Howard’s signing, should be more concerned with the development of Chandler Parsons. And since Parsons is a good, but not great, player, Houston cannot win another championship until they get a stud in the Draft and build around that stud. Harden and Howard will be fun to watch, but they will not bring a championship to Houston. Durant would be more likely to bring a championship to Oklahoma City, but it’s probably not going to happen so long as the Heat are in the way.

    Oh, and Greg….in the Immortal Words of The Joker, “Why so serious?”

  8. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    You Laker fans (like John Hartzell) may want to stop living in the past.

    What if that motivates the NBA to investiage the Lakers’ cheating ways? They cheated in 2002 playoffs against the Kings. They cheated last year to get into the playoffs. They cheated to win in 2009 and 2010 Finals.

    Better be careful when mentioning the Lakers’ past. They WILL GET STRIPPED of NBA Championship Titles.

    I think Bryant auctioned off or gave away some of his “rings.” So I guess it won’t matter to him. His career is already tainted with incredible cheating and game-rigging. But it SHOULD matter to the once-great Laker franchise.

    Today, the Lakers are the worst in the NBA and likely will be for a VERY LONG time.

  9. I DON"T KNOW says:

    Kobe was drafted by Charlotte and got traded to Lakers on same day. Lebron was signed by Heat, Lebron was already superstar so Heat knows that He’s good but Kobe was rookie and not even star or superstar Lakers don’t know if Kobe was good player. Lebron need Bosh, and Wade to get Championship ring Lebron knows that He will get a ring on Heat. There is big difference between superstar signed on another team and a rookie not even star or superstar got drafted and traded on the same day. Kobe got Shaq but Shaq was traded to Lakers on same year Kobe got drafted and traded to Lakers.

  10. Alamo says:

    If the issue is how many teams have been built through “tanking”, then there should be some designation other than “draft”. The players like Kobe, Dirk and Pippen in which the team traded for the draft pick didn’t require the team to “tank”. Drafting Pierce with the 10th pick didn’t exactly require the Celtics to tank, if it means to get in the top few picks. When it comes right down to it, the last player acquiring with a top pick (the team’s own) that led that team to a championship was Duncan. That draft was 15 years ago, so any team that has “tanked” since has not had much success with it.

  11. Gillsy says:

    These numbers will start to change over e next few years due to the one and done college system. Over the last several years only a handful of payers have made an impact in the top end of he draft. Even then teams like the Heat who want a championship now, simply don’t want to wait 3 to 4 years to develop a 19 year old. When you can buy 3 25 year olds with established careers and win rings now.

  12. Rocket33 says:

    Greg, I don’t believe you should have included the Detroit Pistons in your non-credible list. I believe there is a skill in signing and trading for undervalued players just like there is in scouting draft picks. The Pistons took a bunch of these guys and within two seasons they beat a manufactured Lakers team (Shaq, Kobe, Malone & Payton) in the finals.

    Looking back at it. Rip Hamilton was the most proven player they got and that was a trade for Jerry Stackhouse who was one of the top scorers in the league at the time. Ben Wallace came as part of the sign and trade deal when Grant Hill left for Orlando. Chauncey Billups had bounced around the league and not yet found himself. Tayshaun Prince they got through the draft. The late addition to that team was the trade that brought in Rasheed Wallace.

    I think that Pistons team deserves some credit. Lets just forget about Darko Milicic. Though I still say taking Carmelo wouldn’t have been better for them. He was and still is a me first scorer. That didn’t fit with that team they had, plus they liked Prince. If they could do it again I think they’d have taken Bosh though.

  13. J says:

    there are some things in this article that are wrong but I wont get into that

    I think you need a mixture of all 3

  14. Gillsy says:

    It is interesting how teams build championship sides. Mostly it comes down to plan great players and a bit of luck. For example who thought players like Parker would be picked up with such a cheap pick. Guys like Kobe and Wilkins who refused to sign with teams and demanded to be traded. Think if Utah had Dominique, Stockton and Malone they would have had a far better chance at rings. While teams like Miami and Boston cleaned out cap and made some savvy deals to build championship teams almost over night.

  15. Greg says:

    @Desmodeus:

    Defensive players aren’t stars, you never seea defensive player lead a team of role players to a decent record because defensive players like Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace are dependant on stars for their success. That’s the definition of a role player, not a star. Meanwhile, offensively skilled playerds like Hakeem, Allen Iverson, and LeBron have all led teams of role players to great records, Finals appearances, and in Hakeem’s case a championship.

    “Defense wins championships” is an inaccurate cliche. Indiana was a superior defensive team to Miami this year, but Miami won. Memphis was a superior defensive team to San Antonio, but San Antonio won. The Spurs were a superior defensive team to the Heat, but the Heat won the championship. In each series, the better offensive team won, not the best defensive team.

    Even the notorious defensive teams in NBA history had decent to good offensive ratings as well. Defense wins championships is an inaccurate cliche.

    • Bigwes95 says:

      Bill Russell lead the Celtics to 11 championships. Those scorers can only win because they have a great defensive player. You see what happened to the Celtics before and after Russell? First round exit to champions his rookie year. When he left they missed the playoffs. The offensive players rely on the defensive players, but it’s also vice versa. Rodman made Jordan the greatest. Jordan comes back and loses to the Magic in the first round, Rodman comes in and they win 3 straight championships. It’s not a coincidence that teams with the best defensive player(s) in the league win the most championships. Miami and San Antonio have the best defense in the league, they put it on cruise control until the playoffs, don’t let that mess up your thinking.

      • Greg says:

        Just because a team starts winning championships when a particular player is added to the roster does not necessarily mean that said player is a star; sometimes they were simply the missing piece to the puzzle. The ’56 Celtics already had maybe the greatest coach of all time in Red Auerbach along with Boby Cousy and Bill Sharman. The Celtics also added Tommy Heinsohn that year who only chipped in 16 and 10. After the ’69 championship, the Celtics lost, not just Russell, but also their third leading scorer in Sam Jones, not to mention a coaching change obviously since Russell had been player-coach. And let’s not forget that the Celtics almost missed the Playoffs in ’69 when Russell was there, so it’s not like they did drastically worse the following year when he left.

        Although Russell played a bigger role for the Celtics than Rodman did for the Bulls, they are similar cases in which they were simply the missing piece to the puzzle, not stars. While some credit goes to Rodman for the Bulls historic success in ’95-’96, we also have to remember just how much better MJ played in ’95-’96 compared to the previous season in which he came back midseason with no training camp to get into game shape. In ’94-’95, Jordan averaged 26.9 ppg on 41% shooting. In ’95-’96, he averaged 30.4 ppg on 50% from the field. And how about the early ’90s, pre-Rodman, Bulls? I mean, Grant was solid defensively, but nothing spectacular, and yet Jordan was able to win three championships with that team.

        There have been numerous teams throughout NBA history that have won championship without a great defensive player inside. Heck, just look at the last five championship teams, with the exception of the Mavericks who obviously posessed Tyson Chandler, none of these teams have had an insane defensive player protecting the rim.

    • juggernaut584 says:

      So Mutombo leading the Nuggets to the playoffs in the 90’s wasn’t a defensive player leading a team of role players to a decent record? Detroit wasn’t better defensively than L.A. in the ’04 Finals. The 76ers weren’t a better defensive team than every team they played in the ’01 playoffs? The Bulls weren’t a superior defensive team when they had their runs? Yes, Indiana was better defensively than Miami, but the Pacers weren’t even top 10 offensively, and still made it a 7 game series. Memphis was better defensively than SA, but the Grizzlies also struggle to score; and SA had a better defensive gameplan by taking Zach Randolph out of the game, and forcing the Memphis role players to try to beat them from the perimeter. So even if they were evenly matched offensively, the Spurs still had a better defensive gameplan. Finally, Greg, just to let you know, Miami was ranked higher defensively than the Spurs last year, but the Spurs made it a 7 game series because of their defensive gameplan, forcing Lebron to beat them from the perimeter rather than in the paint where he thrives. So you see Greg, even though defense is overlooked by the casual fan, it is still 50% of the the game young killa.

      • Greg says:

        Mutombo didn’t even make the all-star team that year… and the Nuggets were basically .500, if that’s seriously the best example anyone can provide of a defensive player “leading a team of role players to a decent record” than it just proves my point. I’ve already given examples of offensive stars (whether great defensively as well, or not) leading teams of nobodies to much better records and deeper Playoff runs.

        Your comments in regards to the Miami-Indiana, San Antonio-Memphis, and Miami-San Antonio series in this past year’s Playoffs simply do not refute the fact that the superior offensive, and inferior defensive team, won each series, when stakes were at their highest. In your attempt to contradict my statement that the Spurs were better defensively than the Heat, you seem to be basing the Heat and Spurs defense on PPG Allowed in which Miami was indeed better than San Antonio. However, this stat is tainted by pace. The Heat were 23rd in pace last year, so there were fewer posessions for their opponent to score on; whereas, the Spurs were 6th in pace, creating more posessions for their opponents to score on. Defensive rating is a much more accurate barometer by which to gauge a particular team’s defensive prowess because it ranks teams based on PPG allowed per one hundred possessions. So when we look at defensive rating, San Antonio ranked 3rd, while Miami ranked 9th.

    • chigchig says:

      no 1 sided players lead teams.. you talk of jordan and hakeem like those dudes werent defensive players?
      They were 2 way players.. Jordan is one of the best 2guard defenders ever.. Hakeem is one of the best defensive centers ever

      Dwight (known as someone with literally no offense) is a defensive player.. led his team to the finals

      MIA was a top 10 defense with offense to back it up.. Indy had the D but no offense

      San an memphis series was the same

  16. People says:

    A whole bunch of people can’t read a full article about drafts…

    Read the full article…

    ….. I labeled both Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant as drafted by their current teams even though they were drafted by other teams (Milwaukee and Charlotte, respectively) and traded on Draft night or, in Kobe’s case, shortly thereafter

    either way, missing the main points.

  17. TEE says:

    Kobe was not drafted by LAL…

  18. uouuouo says:

    my phone auto corrects what i’m trying to say

  19. Bill says:

    Ben Wallace was, in the very least, one of the top three players in the 2004 Pistons team. It doesn’t hurt the article because he was also acquired by trade

    • Greg says:

      Eh, I disagree. When it comes down to it, putting the ball in the hoop is the most important part of the game, and Ben Wallace couldn’t do that, so offensively-skilled players like Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace are easily better players. Just look at when Ben Wallace left Detroit, the Pistons still earned one of the top two seeds in the East the next two seasons which resulted in two more trips to the Conference Finals, so the team hardly skipped a beat when he left. It was when Chauncey Billups left that the team collapsed.

      • uouuouo says:

        you’re wrong ben wallace indimidated the other team with his defensive skills wallace mad most teams un able to score in the paint and have to shoot out side shot and been got all the boards and like 3 offensive boards a game

      • uouuouo says:

        im using my phone so it auto correct most the things i said

      • Game Time says:

        Greg, Ben averaged 10pts and 14rebs for the playoffs, Sheed 13pts and 7rebs. I don’t see how 3pts makes Sheed the better player when Ben grabbed double the rebounds and was DPOY.

      • Desmodeus says:

        How is putting the ball in the basket more important than stopping the other team putting the ball in the basket? That attitude is what produces lazy, offense only teams that win lots of games in the regular season then crash and burn in the playoffs. Defense wins championships.

      • Greg says:

        Good offense always beats good defense.

      • anonynous says:

        let’s just agree that the entire pistons’ team was amazing

      • Vlad says:

        Greg you are delusional….great O tops great D at one particular play…or even (but very rare) at one particular game….but when talking about winning a ring…gread D tops great O anytime of the day… just look at the last teams that won….all of them had top 10 D…. most of them had top 5….most of the top 5 offensive teams get knocked out in the 1st round or even don’t make the playoffs….

        Desmodeus is totally right …. Defense wins championships…offense wins you a game or a hoop

      • chigchig says:

        There is also other things to do on offense besides put the ball in the hole.. set picks to open up players, offensive boards, tip ins, you dont have to be an athletic scoring dynamo to be a star..

        Ben wallace was most definitely one of the best defenisve players (if not the best) of the 2000s definitely a star

    • Van says:

      @greg, did u forget how many shots Steve Kerr made for Jordán during those last 3 championships. u keep insulting Rodman. U easily f

  20. Greg says:

    Franchises that construct their teams through the draft are a lot more respectable than franchises that build their teams primarily through trades and free agency. I’m not saying that building through the draft is the more efficient method because that’s debatable; I’m saying that it garners more respect (or at least should) to build through the draft as opposed to building through trades and free agency because you’re not taking the easy way out.

    When building a team primarily through the draft, a franchise must actually develop its young players, whereas when building a team through trades and free agency, a particular franchise can simply let other franchises develop players, and then when this particular franchise sees which youngsters have evolved into legitimate NBA superstars, they can trade for them or tank and pick them in the free agent market. In a lot of cases, utilizing trading and free agency as the primary means to constructing a team is taking the easy way out when franchises lack the ability to draft or develop players properly. Do the hard work and scout players, develop players; it’s quite frankly disgusting to me how the trend nowadays is for a franchise to tank and then pick up multiple superstars in the free agent market because they’re simply too lazy to put in the hard work and scout and develop players.

    I have no problem with teams using trades and free agency to get a few roles players here and there. But superstars should be drafted, not picked up in free agency or via trade, that’s just taking the easy way out; this kind of attitude deserves no respect, it displays an incredible degree of laziness. Franchises like the current Heat, the ’08 Celtics, the ’09-’10 Lakers, the ’00-’02 Lakers, the ’04 Pistons built their cores at least partly through trades and free agency, I have no respect for these teams at all. The ’90s Bulls, the ’94-’95 Rockets, the ’99-present Spurs, these teams deserve all the respect in the world; they put in the hard work, scouting and developing players, building their respective teams through the draft.

    • banananananana says:

      I’ve always respected the Spurs and how they always get amazing role players or freakishly good players (parker), but you can’t really put so much respect into scouting abilities and such when you have a top 3 pick in the draft (dream, MJ,Duncan)

    • EPaul says:

      Absolute BS – great players aren’t developed, they’re born. Tanking a few seasons, whether intentionally or not, and getting loaded by the Draft is NOT more respectable than any other method of acquiring picks.

      • Greg says:

        There are plenty of examples of great players who weren’t born great players. I mean, to a certain extent it’s true of pretty much every player; anyone who’s in the NBA has dedicated an incredible amount of time to improve on their game. But just look at guys like Larry Bird, John Stockton, and Steve Nash. These guys had little to no athletic ability and yet they put in the hard work and became stars in the NBA. Heck, Nash played soccer as his first sport, he, like countless others, had to put in hours upon hours of practice to become the NBA star we know. In high school, Michael Jordan was so far from his future GOAT self that he got cut from the varsity team. Even when he first entered college, Jordan was nowhere near the skillset of a legitimate NBA superstar. He had to develop his game to become the GOAT. he certainly was not born that way. And have you seen footage of Dirk when he first entered the league? He has clearly worked on his game to become a superstar. To say that great players are born is to undermine all of the hard work they put in to become great.

        Regardless of whether a franchise builds through the draft, trades, or free agency, I agree that tanking is cheap and not respectable. But when you get a good pick in the draft because your team genuinely had a horrible season the year before…. there’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s certainly more respectable than letting other teams put in the hard work of scouting and developing players, while you sit in your office until particular players become free agents, subsequently snatching them when you get your opportunity; that’s just lazy and not respectable in the slightest.

    • ?????? says:

      also, the 90’s bulls would never have achieved their second three-peat had it not been for some trades for significant players. Same goes for the 95 rockets.

      and as was said before, there shouldn’t be a ton of respect given to teams who draft in the topp 3 versus teams who acwuire those same players later. It was pure luck that MJ was still available for the bulls at #3. The drafting of Scottie Pippen should warrant more respect, given that they saw the potential in him and took the chance, rather than absolutely knowing he was a born superstar. This is not to say that being a superstar doesn’t require hard work, but if they are already a superstar by the time the draft rolls around (MJ, Shaq, TD, Lebron), drafting them is no more of an achievement then later acquiring them in free agency or trade.

      • Greg says:

        I understand the ’95 Rockets team, they traded for Clyde, so I get your point there; I’ve always respected the ’94 team more anyway. The second three-peat Bulls just picked up role players.

      • Greg says:

        It wasn’t luck that Jordan was left for the Bulls to select, it was the fact that the Blazers made a bad pick. So that’s good drafting, not luck. And people seem to always forget that when he was in college people were not projecting Jordan to be a superstar in the NBA, so he wasn’t an automatic top 3 pick; if people had known how good he was going to be he would have gone number 1, lol.

        People also seem to underrate the skill of developing superstars. Dominique Wilkins was more of a star in college than Jordan, averaging 22 ppg as opposed to Jordan’s 18 ppg, but ‘Niquie was mostly raw talent, and the Hawks didn’t develop him much, thus he never became a superstar to the degree that Jordan, Hakeem, Bird, Magic and the like did.

        Drafting and developing a superstar takes a heck of a lot more work than sitting on your behind until a superstar player becomes a free agent, and then signing him when he does so, thus having another team put in all the hard work in developing him, while you sat there.

      • Marco29 says:

        Do not underestimate the scouting work needed to make the right picks in the draft. Having a Top picks generally helps to get good players but not always; How many N°1 or top 5 picks did not leave up to the expectations? You need some flair to get Parker in 28th place and Manu in 57th.

    • Van says:

      Hey Greg, Stever Kerr and Rodman were not drafted by the Bulls. Otis Thorpe and Clyde drexler, and Vernon Maxwell weren’t drafted by the Rockets. All if these players played significant roles in helping their team win. And technically Scottie Pippen wasn’t even drafted by the bulls. You sound so ignorant and stupid. No team wins only by draft. Even the great Celtics traded for Mchale and Parrish. Magic never won a ring with out Kareem and he wasn’t drafted by the lakers. Learn your history. The great DJ couldn’t win a ring with out a center and the he got one and it wasn’t by drafting.

      • Greg says:

        @Van: Since when was Steve Kerr part of Chicago’s core? Rodman, like many pure defensive, rebounding players, was always overrated; he could not score, therefore he was not a star, and not part of the Bulls’ core. Give me an example of a pure defender/rebounder leading a team of role players to a solid record. It’s never happened because pure defenders/rebounders are dependent on stars for their success…. that’s defining a role player, not a star. Offensive stars like Allen Iverson, LeBron, Jordan, etc. all led a team of nobodies to at least the Conference Finals at one point in their respective careers because they had the ability to carry their team, that’s what stars do. A defensive/rebounding player had never carried a team of role players to a decent record because they’re incapable of carrying a team on their own, they aren’t star players. So Rodman wasn’t a star, and not part of the Bulls’ core.

        Drexler was indeed not drafted by the Rockets, and he was obviously a star on that ’95 team, point taken. Vernon Maxwell and Otis Thorpe were obviously no more than role players; the core of the ’94 team was built purely through the draft seeing that the only star on that team was Hakeem. Role players are the guys you surround your star with, they’re not the core of the team.

        To say that Scottie Pippen wasn’t drafted by the Bulls is mere technicality. Remember, my argument is that trading and utilizing free agency to acquire star players is lazy because it largely avoids scouting and developing players. But trading for a player on draft day avoids neither of these, particularly development of a player, and so your point here is simply irrelevant in regards to my argument.

        Kevin McHale was drafted by the Celtics, he wasn’t traded. It was the pick that was traded and then the Celtics drafted McHale with the pick. And I’m the one who needs to brush up on my history? Parish only played four seasons for the Warriors and was a late bloomer with a lot more developing left to go, so that was more respectable than picking some fully-fledged stars like LeBron and Bosh were when they went to the Heat, or Chris Paul when he went to the Clippers, or Carmelo when he went to the Knicks, or Dwight Howard when he went to the Lakers and then Rockets.

        Kareem was obviously a superstar when he went to the Lakers, I concur with you there. I won’t even count the Celtics in the ’80s and yet we’ve still got several championship teams throughout the course of NBA history that have built through their cores strictly through the draft: the ’60s Celtics, the ’89-’90 Pistons, the ’90s Bulls, the ’94 Rockets and, the ’99, ’03, ’05, and the ’07 Spurs. Heck, three of the franchises that have pulled it off were dynasties.

      • chigchig says:

        @Greg

        Did you just say Rodman was not part of the core for the bulls and not a star?

        The dude that is arguably the best rebounder ever (7 time rebounding champ) and a HOF member.. 2 time defensive player of the year (name me another multi time DPOY thats not a center) and 5 time champion? If that aint a ‘star’ then I have no idea what is..

        Argument from you is purely ‘unless ur a scorer your not a star’, there are 2 sides of the game though and hes one of the best ever on one side of the game..
        i’ll give u kerr, dude was a solid role player who was just right place right time (fisher/horry).

        In Rodmans 5 championships he was the 3rd best player on both teams and best player defensively.. id consider that core material

  21. Phil Jones says:

    I love MJ

  22. Ezequiel says:

    La mejor forma de construir un equipo campeon es:

    Seleccionar una estrella en el Draft, dejar que esta estrella se desarrolle durante 3 o 4 años, y seguir sumando algunas selecciones buenas. En la agencia libre de ese año sumar otro gran jugador (ya tendrías 2 estrellas) y rodearlo de veteranos ya no tan productivos pero que en momentos importantes aparecen, siempre x el minimo de salario.

  23. Chris says:

    “I labeled both Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant as drafted by their current teams even though they were drafted by other teams (Milwaukee and Charlotte, respectively) and traded on Draft night or, in Kobe’s case, shortly thereafter”

  24. T-BONE says:

    That is true. But he was still acquired through the draft

  25. Brian Scalabrine says:

    Championship teams are built with a bunch of really good players, a celebrity coach, and me all the down the bench cheering my curly headed face off.

    • Cameron says:

      Kobe wasn’t drafted by the Lakers. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and TRADED to the Lakers for Vlade Divac.

      • Daniel says:

        I guess they believed that since he never played for them that it would be considered that he was drafted. But I agree, and that is not the only thing that this article mentions incorrectly

      • Wurth says:

        Same can be said of Scottie Pippen. Drafted by Seattle and traded to Chicago for Olden Polynice. Interesting that the author did not mention that…

      • B-Ball4Life says:

        If you would have read the article carefully you would have seen that this is clearly stated by Jonathan…

        “I labeled both Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant as drafted by their current teams even though they were drafted by other teams (Milwaukee and Charlotte, respectively) and traded on Draft night or, in Kobe’s case, shortly thereafter”.

        Stop hatin’ those writers all the time

    • Adam Morrison says:

      I have 2 rings Scalabrine, I’m more important for a championship team. Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, and Patrick Ewing all envy me.