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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010-11 Western Conference Preview

Only seven wins separated the top eight teams in the West in two of the past three years (the Lakers lapped the field in 2009 but the other seven playoff teams that year were only separated by six wins) and in each of those seasons at least 48 wins were required to secure the eighth seed. Both of those trends figure to continue this year, so one tweaked ankle of a key player could have a huge effect on the final standings.

Yesterday I posted my Eastern Conference Preview; this preview has the same format, with the following eight teams ranked based on their likelihood of making it to the Finals and not necessarily in the order that the teams will be seeded during the playoffs (which is affected by which teams win division championships).

1) L.A. Lakers: Reasons for hope: The number one reason is the main reason that the Lakers have won back to back championships and have made it to the Finals three straight times: Kobe Bryant. The words that I wrote in last year's Western Conference Preview still apply today (just change 2009 to 2010 in the first sentence):

LeBron James had the most productive regular season of any NBA player in 2009 and deservedly won the MVP but during the playoffs Kobe Bryant demonstrated that he still has the most complete skill set of any player in the league. Bryant's ability to consistently make the midrange jump shot not only opens up driving lanes for him but affects the way opposing teams defend his teammates, enabling the other Lakers to feast on wide open looks because Bryant simply must be trapped in any screen/roll situation (teams can sag off of James because he is not as deadly or consistent from midrange as Bryant is, even though James laudably has improved his three point and free throw percentages).

Bryant was hobbled by knee, ankle and finger injuries during most of the regular season and all of the playoffs, yet his outstanding 2010 postseason numbers (29.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.5 apg, .458 FG%, .374 3FG%, .842 FT%) are not only remarkably consistent with his 2009 and 2008 postseason statistics (30.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg , 5.5 apg, .457 FG%, .349 FG%, .883 FT%; 30.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.6 apg, .479 FG%, .302 3FG%, .809 FT%) but they also stack up well against the numbers Michael Jordan posted during Chicago's second three-peat.

The injuries led to unusual variance in Bryant's numbers from game to game during some portions of the regular season but his final regular season statistics were in line with his production during the past two years, though his three point field goal percentage and free throw percentage both declined a bit--no doubt a byproduct of the avulsion fracture to the index finger of his right (shooting) hand that forced Bryant to alter his shooting stroke.

While Bryant is the focal point of the Lakers' success, the Lakers also benefit from having a marvelous second option (Pau Gasol), a lockdown wing defender (Ron Artest) and a power forward who is an outstanding rebounder (Lamar Odom). Coach Phil Jackson does a masterful job of running the show, knowing who needs a pat on the back and who needs a kick in the butt.

This season the Lakers also have a new reason for hope: their previously lackluster bench has been augmented by offseason acquisitions Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff.

Reasons to mope: The two-time defending champions do not have much to mope about. The biggest immediate issue is that starting center Andrew Bynum--who gamely delayed surgery and played with an injured knee during the playoffs--will not be ready to go at the start of the season. Bynum has played more than 65 games just once in his five season career and Coach Jackson has publicly acknowledged that if Bynum's body breaks down again this season the Lakers will seriously have to consider permanently reducing Bynum's minutes and role. It seems obvious that a young big guy who annually gets hurt is unlikely to suddenly become durable enough to make it through an entire season while logging starter's minutes. The good news for the Lakers is that they have already won two championships with nominal starter Bynum essentially playing a reserve role (11.8 mpg in the 2008 playoffs, 17.3 mpg in the 2009 playoffs). The reality is that in the games that counted the most the Lakers have not really been quite as big a team as some people suggest; during most of the key playoff minutes in the championship runs the Lakers usually put Gasol at center and Odom at power forward while Bynum watched from the bench. It is strange that some people act like the Lakers regularly deploy Bynum, Gasol and Odom at the same time, because those three players are in fact rarely on the court together.

Bryant also had offseason knee surgery and during the preseason it was obvious that while his mind was willing his body was not yet quite able to play at an elite level. The most important thing is that Bryant is healthy. There is no reason to believe that his shooting woes will continue into the season; he maintained his usual shooting percentages last season despite his myriad injuries, so all he has to do now is knock off a little rust that accumulated while he recovered from the knee surgery.

Bottom line: There are two plausible theories pertaining to the Lakers this season: one suggests that because Bryant is getting older and Bynum is constantly hurt the marathon season will wear the Lakers down and prevent them from winning a third straight title; another suggests that the Lakers--and Bryant in particular--know how to pace themselves so that they finish with an excellent regular season record and yet maintain enough energy to sustain themselves over two dozen or more playoff games. I am inclined to believe that the second theory is more valid. Bryant does not like to dwell on--or even acknowledge--his injuries but after the Finals were over he provided a brief glimpse into his thought process when he said with some exasperation that age did not affect him last year nearly as much as some critics contended; Bryant asserted that his occasional struggles merely reflected just how serious his injuries really were. In this context it is interesting to recall that four years ago Bryant had offseason surgery on the same knee, got off to a slow start and Coach Jackson said something to the effect that the days of Bryant regularly scoring 50 or 60 points were over--but Bryant ended up scoring 50 or more points in 10 games, including four straight (a streak only exceeded by Wilt Chamberlain). Bryant is unlikely to go on that kind of a scoring binge simply because the Lakers rarely need such pyrotechnics now but I suspect that even if Bryant starts slowly he will still end up averaging 26-27 ppg.

Since Bill Russell retired, six teams have tried to three-peat: the 1989 Lakers lost to the Pistons in the Finals after hamstring injuries felled their starting backcourt of Magic Johnson and Byron Scott, the 1991 Pistons were swept by the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, the 1993 Bulls three-peated, the 1996 Rockets were swept by the Sonics in the Western Conference semifinals, the 1998 Bulls three-peated and the 2002 Lakers three-peated. That adds up to a 50% success rate but it is worth noting that Phil Jackson has a 100% success rate (1993 and 1998 Bulls, 2002 Lakers).

2) San Antonio Spurs: Reasons for hope: As long as the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is reasonably healthy the Spurs have to be viewed as a contender. Richard Jefferson struggled at times during his first season with the team but now he has a new contract and will likely be more comfortable in his role. The Spurs have high hopes for rookie big man Tiago Splitter, the Spanish League standout who they drafted back in 2007. DeJuan Blair and George Hill are young players who are already key members of the rotation and who both figure to have expanded roles as Coach Gregg Popovich carefully monitors the Big Three's minutes.

Reasons to mope: The Spurs have been slowly but inexorably declining in recent years, with their win totals dropping from 63 to 58 to 56 to 54 to 50. Some of that is because Coach Popovich has rested key players to keep them fresh for the postseason but that plan has not really worked the past two years: after winning the 2007 championship and reaching the 2008 Western Conference Finals the Spurs were eliminated in the first round in 2009 and the second round last year.

Bottom line: This may be the last season as a legit contender for the Spurs as they are currently constituted but if the veterans stay healthy and the youthful trio of Splitter, Blair and Hill is productive then the Spurs have a puncher's chance to dethrone the Lakers.

3) Oklahoma City Thunder: Reasons for hope: The Thunder have a marvelous nucleus of young players led by Kevin Durant, whose 30.2 ppg average last season enabled him to become the youngest scoring champion in league history. Explosive third year point guard Russell Westbrook looks like a star in the making. Coach Scott Brooks is not a screamer or an attention grabber but all you need to know about his coaching acumen is that his young team ranked seventh in the league in defensive field goal percentage despite not having a dominant shot blocker or ball thief; that means that he has persuaded the entire squad to buy into the idea of playing good, fundamentally sound defense.

Reasons to mope: The Thunder lack a dominant big man and that leads to matchup problems in slower paced, grind it out playoff games. Durant's production and efficiency dropped dramatically in the playoffs versus the Lakers' Ron Artest. This year Durant needs to prove that he can perform at an elite level in postseason play against physical defenders.

Bottom line: The Thunder are a rising team. They are probably too inexperienced and too small to survive the entire Western Conference playoff gauntlet but they are a threat to knock off anyone.

4) Dallas Mavericks: Reasons for hope: Dirk Nowitzki is still performing at an MVP caliber level; last season he averaged more points and shot better from both the three point line and the free throw line than he did during his 2007 MVP campaign. Fellow future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd is still a very productive player, while former All-Stars Caron Butler and Shawn Marion provide depth at small forward (Marion can also play power forward when the Mavericks go small).

Reasons to mope: In the four seasons since Dallas' heartbreaking loss in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Mavericks have advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once. They are a team that reliably wins 50 or more regular season games yet makes little postseason noise.

Bottom line: The addition of Tyson Chandler should boost the team's rebounding and interior defense but there is little reason to believe that the Mavs will win more than one playoff series.

5) Utah Jazz: Reasons for hope: Deron Williams has arguably emerged as the league's best point guard. Carlos Boozer departed in free agency but Al Jefferson should be able to at least duplicate Boozer's scoring and rebounding. The Jazz won 53 games last season, their second best total of the post Stockton-Malone era.

Reasons to mope: Coach Jerry Sloan's teams usually play with toughness and execute well but recently the Jazz have been a poor road team, a fault that makes it difficult to advance very far in the postseason.

Bottom line: Pencil the Jazz in for 50 wins but if they don't solve their road woes they will be eliminated in the first round.

6) Portland Trail Blazers: Reasons for hope: Brandon Roy has made the All-Star team three straight years and has earned consecutive All-NBA Team selections (Second Team in 2009, Third Team in an injury-riddled 2010). If Greg Oden can finally stay healthy he should provide the inside presence that this team has been lacking.

Reasons to mope: The Blazers seem to be jogging in place while some other Western Conference teams have upgraded their personnel.

Bottom line: If Oden does not have a very significant impact then the Blazers are probably headed for a third straight first round exit.

7) Phoenix Suns: Reasons for hope: Steve Nash is still performing his passing and shooting wizardry. Grant Hill has apparently found the Fountain of Youth in the Valley of the Sun. Coach Alvin Gentry discovered a happy medium between the "Seven Seconds or Less" offense and the minimal level of team defense that is necessary to win playoff games.

Reasons to mope: The committee of Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress is not likely to make anyone forget Amare Stoudemire.

Bottom line: The Suns' trip to the Western Conference Finals looks very much like a one year wonder, a la Denver's similar journey in 2009.

8) Houston Rockets: Reasons for hope: Yao Ming is slated to return for limited duty and his unique combination of size and skill is just what the undersized Rockets need. Aaron Brooks, the 2010 Most Improved Player, is the kind of speedy guard who thrives under the NBA rules that limit contact by perimeter defenders.

Reasons to mope: How far can a team go if its best player is on a strict 24 mpg limitation?

Bottom line: The gritty Rockets are capable of beating any team on a given night but in a seven game series they will ultimately prove to be nothing but cannon fodder against any of the top Western teams.

The Denver Nuggets' window of opportunity has seemingly been slammed shut and boarded up. Carmelo Anthony has made it clear that he does not intend to stay in Denver, Chauncey Billups had very good numbers overall but looked like he was aging in dog years down the stretch, J.R. Smith did not let his plummeting shooting percentages discourage him from firing at will and Coach George Karl is returning from a grueling second battle with cancer. In the tough and improving Western Conference it is difficult to see how the Nuggets will win the 48-50 games that will probably be necessary to snag a playoff berth.

The Memphis Grizzlies are a young team on the rise but I think that they will barely miss the playoffs.

Chris Paul's healthy return will provide a boost to the New Orleans Hornets but they just don't have enough talent to compete with the best in the West on a nightly basis--and Paul's not so thinly veiled desire to leave town could be disruptive, particularly if the team gets off to a slow start.

The Sacramento Kings and L.A. Clippers are both taking baby steps in the right direction--but baby steps won't get you a ticket to the playoffs in the man's world that is the Wild West.

The Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves both have too many flaws to even think about qualifying for postseason play. In the immortal words of former Colts Coach Jim Mora, "Playoffs? Playoffs? Are you kidding me?"



Last season, I correctly picked seven of the eight Western Conference playoff teams, matching my 2008-09 accuracy. I also went 7/8 in 2007-08; I went 6/8 in both 2006-07 and 2005-06, putting my five year percentage at .825 (33/40).

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posted by David Friedman @ 11:35 PM



At Thursday, October 21, 2010 1:52:00 AM, Anonymous Efueshe said...

Question: Why do you think the Clippers have such difficulty in winning games? They have a solid backcourt and an All Star center and yet they are perennial losers. Is this the result of poor management and if so can you tell me how poor management can affect a team that's otherwise decent?

At Thursday, October 21, 2010 2:22:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The Clippers have experienced a myriad of problems over the past three decades. Their owner has generally been reluctant to spend money to retain the services of good players, they have an unfortunate history of players suffering serious injuries and in general they do not seem to have a system in place to develop and retain a solid nucleus of players.

At Thursday, October 21, 2010 5:27:00 PM, Blogger vednam said...

It will be interesting to see if Tiago Splitter can play a valuable role this season and how that may help Tim Duncan. Duncan has had very little help in terms of other bigs during the last few seasons. Matt Bonner would hardly leave the bench on most decent teams.

I think the Spurs had great opportunities to win more championships than they did, but their front office was not aggressive enough in pursuing extra talent. They stood pat after their 2007 title when just a few tweaks could have put them over the top in 2008. They finally tried to shake things up in 2009-10, but they missed the boat. When a franchise player like Duncan declines significantly, adding a few extra players here and there cannot make up the difference.

At Friday, October 22, 2010 4:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


One thing about the Jazz that surprises me, given that they're still coached by Jerry Sloan, is their weakness on defense.

I understand that undersized teams are bound to have difficulty on the defensive end, but I just can't believe that a team coached by the man with the "no layups," rule has seemed to put such lax effort in.

Obviously, Bryant man handled them in the 2nd round, but that was bound to happen (like any true superstar, Bryant is unstoppable in a one on one situation). Didn't help that they traded away their resident perimeter guard dog in Ronnie Brewer (who had the athleticism and skill to make Kobe work for his looks). The two headed monster of Wes Matthews and CJ Miles didn't exactly make for a great obstacle.

I like Jefferson a lot better than Boozer. I've heard his 6'10 height listing is a couple inches too generous, but he also doesn't have a problem getting his shot off in the post (a problem which plagued the undersized Boozer against larger players). He's younger, and although he's had injury issues, I don't see how having Deron Williams for your point guard can hurt your numbers. Unfortunately, he shares Boozer's defensive shortcomings, but hopefully Jerry Sloan can whip him into shape.

My question is what is their starting lineup? If I were Paul Millsap, I wouldn't be all too happy about possibly being stuck as a backup for at least another year. He's a blue collar guy, and lacks Boozer's mid ranger scoring touch or Jefferson's polished post game, but he was putting up 18 points, 12 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1 steal per game when given starters minutes. He gets in foul trouble, but he's the best front court defender they have save for Kirilenko.

Anyway, not really a Jazz fan, but I'd like to hear your take.

At Friday, October 22, 2010 5:33:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree with you that the Spurs missed out on some opportunities to upgrade their roster in the past two or three years; I was particularly surprised that they did not retain the rights to Scola.

At Friday, October 22, 2010 5:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I think that a major problem for the Jazz in recent seasons is that they lack defensive-minded bigs (I consider Kirilenko a wing despite his height).

Boozer and Jefferson are both injury prone, offensive-minded players, so I think that the de facto swap is basically a wash for the Jazz.

Millsap may not be pleased with coming off of the bench but that is probably the role that best suits him as an undersized, energy player; it is not certain that he would duplicate his current per minute numbers if he played more minutes and spent a greater portion of the time facing the other team's starters. That said, Mehmet Okur's injury may force the Jazz to make Millsap a starter, at least temporarily.

As I indicated in my preview, I expect the Jazz to have another very good regular season but I do not see them as a serious threat to win the Western Conference title.

At Friday, October 22, 2010 9:09:00 PM, Anonymous JackF said...

What do you make of Lebron saying that Kobe has been taking shots at him on the low. It's not the first time Kobe said he'd beat lebron in a 1-on-1....

on Clippers
I think Sterling should sell this team.

on Jazz
they are the sleeper team in the west. A lot of people aren't talking about the Jefferson move. And that kid Gordon Howard can really shoot the ball. I don't think the Jazz Front office get enough credit for putting a winning unit out on the floor almost every year.

on Collective Bargaining Agreement
Why aren't the player being ProActive? If i was the players I'd propose the NFL's salary structure. It'd help both the players and the owners.

At Saturday, October 23, 2010 2:27:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


1) I don't make anything of it. It does not matter who said what and/or who would win a one on one game between Kobe and LeBron (unless the NBA brings back the old one on one contest). Kobe has five NBA championship rings and LeBron has none. That is the only competition that should be on LeBron's mind.

2) It would be better for Clippers' fans if Sterling sold the team but no one can make Sterling do this.

3) I am not convinced that the Jazz are a "sleeper team." For one thing, most people are predicting that they will be pretty good, so nobody is "sleeping" on them; also, even though they will likely win at least 50 games I don't think that they are big enough or tough enough to knock off the Lakers. The conventional wisdom about the Jazz sounds about right to me. As I mentioned before, Jefferson for Boozer is basically a wash.

4) We don't know what is happening behind closed doors. Maybe the players are being "proactive."

At Saturday, October 23, 2010 11:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


if lakers stay healthy tough to beat because kobe and gasol and they size. kobe knee starting to look better it didnt look too well early. your theory was right for most part kobe been better than lebron in postseason even though bron been better in reg season.

i dont know about spurs how they will do after lakers west is crapshoot portland or okc emerge dont know if i see them winning west this year. phoenix to me cant duplicate what they did last year. jazz is intresting with al jefferson with willams, but terrible on road but got a great shot if jeff stay healthy. mavs couldnt beat spurs last year there gonna win west dont know. denver in disarray with anthony situation. houston we dont know how much yao has left.

i think if lakers healthy they win it maybe by default because really not another real threat to them. but thats now phoenix almost won it last year and noone picked them to make postseason we dont know who will emerge by end of season.

At Monday, October 25, 2010 5:18:00 AM, Anonymous JackF said...

What do you make of Kobe saying that brandon Roy(not durant, not wade, not lebron, not melo) is the toughest opponent to guard. He said Roy's game has no weaknesses. A stat guy would say Lebron or Durant, yet Kobe picked Roy.

At Monday, October 25, 2010 6:08:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Without seeing the full question and the full answer it does not make much sense to comment, though it should be pointed out that Durant, LeBron and Melo are small forwards, which means that Kobe is not matched up one on one with them as frequently as he is matched up with Roy.

At Friday, October 29, 2010 10:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


he did owe the cavs enough to call them and tell them he was going to miami i do agree with that. he should of done that the descion was bad for image he should of done press conference.

no doubt in my mind miami will be great team once they gel thats undisputed. they might win 66 games a couple times and that will mean nuthing if they dont win ring. so the fact that he won 66 games in cleveland and 61 mean nuthing cause they didnt win ring. and to say that was his best or may be last chance ever to compete for title simply makes no sense miami has better team than cleveland ever did around lebron. if miami stay healthy they will def compete for title have a great chance and i believe will win one there.

big o dont know much about know he was great player. dont think better than mj was though prob magic and kobe he was better than though, second best guard ever top 5 all time. he avg 30 10 10 one season i believe. career 26 9 7 great player mj not way better than him but better than him more of a winner and could carry team farther than big o. but bird kareem magic prob all think they are as good or better than mj.

yeah they need post scoreing. theyll need bench play to be great lol. all i know theyll be a great team got great win vs orlando tonight but so far bosh looks lost in offense.

At Sunday, October 31, 2010 12:41:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


It is likely that Miami will be a very good team--I picked them to win 60 games and battle for the Eastern Conference title, though I expect Boston to prevail--but it is not "undisputed" that Miami will be a "great" team. If "great" is defined by at a minimum winning one championship then the Heat still have a lot of hurdles to overcome--and considering that the Lakers have won five titles since 2000 while the Spurs have captured four titles since 1999 "greatness" should really be defined by multiple titles for a Heat squad that is led by two players who virtually everyone considers to be among the top five in the league.

The reason that I keep bringing up the fact that the Cavs won 66 and 61 games the past two seasons is that LeBron had two golden opportunities to win a title and he failed to cash in on either one; the second one in particular was largely his fault, because he blatantly quit versus Boston. Opportunities to win championships are precious and you never know how many of them a player will get. Remember when the Magic signed Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady? That partnership was supposed to be dynamic but Hill never recovered sufficiently from his ankle injury to reestablish himself as one of the five best players in the NBA. As I mentioned before, Wilt, West and Baylor never won a title together as a trio and Dr. J, McGinnis and Doug Collins likewise fell short in 1977 and 1978. Injuries, chemistry, the unexpected rise of another great team (Knicks in the early 1970s, Portland in 1977) can change history.

We will see if Miami can stay healthy and get good enough play from the center and point guard positions to beat teams like the Lakers, Celtics and Magic in a seven game series. The Lakers and Celtics in particular pose significant matchup problems for the Heat. The Magic are a very good defensive team (check out Miami's field goal percentage from Friday's game) but they depend on Howard drawing double teams AND their shooters connecting from long distance; barring aberrant performances in other statistical categories by either team, the Magic probably need to make at least 10 three pointers to beat the Heat in a given game. Can the Magic do that four times in a seven game series? Frankly, I am not sure but I will stick with what I wrote in my Eastern Conference preview: I give the Magic a slightly better chance than the Heat to make it to the NBA Finals.

It is impossible to really "prove" who was the greatest among MJ, Magic, Oscar and Kobe; one can make a solid case for each player. If I were Oscar I certainly would not feel like I have to take a back seat to anyone. It is a little unfair for you so say that Oscar could not "carry a team" as far as MJ did; MJ had better teams than Oscar (at least until a past his prime Oscar joined forces with Kareem) and MJ did not have to face a Bill Russell-led Boston team that had a half dozen Hall of Famers.

At Sunday, October 31, 2010 10:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


you never explained what you meant by great. if it is multiple championships great that is true we will have to see that is no gurantee. even though if they can stay healthy got great chance.

they all never played agianst each other so we dont know exactly i think mj was from skill set statiscal and accomplishment standpoint when he played then magic then oscar then kobe in that order 4 of the top 8 players in history. but i think mj was the best not by big margin but by a smaller margin. in they hearts all 4 think they the best. but really when you break it down it is mj and most will agree with me on that subject.

mj was second to none in prime but all was and is great players no doubt

At Monday, November 01, 2010 5:12:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


In my previous comment I explained that in a post-MJ era during which the Lakers have won five titles and the Spurs have won four titles "greatness" should be defined by winning multiple championships. If LeBron, Wade and Bosh stay healthy and play together for several years the Heat should not be considered "great" if they only win one title.

We all understand that the Heat are a legitimate title contender this season, along with the Lakers, Celtics and Magic--but if you look back at NBA history you will see that there have been many legitimate contenders that never won championships, including some teams led by big name trios.

I am not impressed by hype; I am only impressed by results. All of the preseason hype about Miami and all of the talk about what they could do or might do is meaningless--let's see what the Heat actually do during the course of the season and then in the playoffs.

At Monday, November 01, 2010 2:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


see now you said multiple titles i agree they would have to win 2 or 3 to be looked upon with lakers celtics 80's. or with bulls in 90's celts 60's lakers spurs 2000's. not a gurantee but very possible if they are healthy to win a couple. this is one of the most potent trios on paper ever but as you said thats hype it means nuthing untill it is realised i like there chances. this could be greatest trio ever maybe boston big 3 was as good and lakers but no other was as good as this one could be 3 players that could easily get 30 on a given night.

At Monday, November 01, 2010 3:32:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Boston's current Big Three has won one championship and made another Finals appearance in three seasons. We will see if the Heat can even match those totals, which are not as good as what Kobe has accomplished in the past three seasons with just one other All-Star by his side.

I just don't believe in elevating the Heat's current trio based purely on hype. LeBron, Wade and Bosh have accomplished a lot individually but collectively they only own one championship ring and it is far from certain that they will add to that total in Miami.

There have been several great trios in NBA history:

1) Mikan, Pollard, Mikkelson with the 1950s Lakers.

2) Russell plus choose two other Hall of Famers (Cousy, Sharman, Sam Jones, Havlicek, etc.) with the 1950s-60s Celtics.

3) Chamberlain, Cunningham and Greer with the mid-1960s Sixers.

4) Magic-Kareem-Worthy with the 1980s Lakers.

5) Bird-McHale-Parish with the 1980s Celtics.

6) MJ-Pippen-Rodman with the 1990s Bulls.

Every one of those trios except for number three won at least three championships. The Heat have a lot of work to do in order to be worthy of being mentioned with these half dozen trios.


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