As fun as the NBA trade machine websites can be, NBA Twitter needs to relax. Fans have a tendency of treating the NBA like it’s NBA2k if the simulator worked properly; the more talent you have, the more wins you’ll acquire.
In a perfect world that would be true but if it was that easy then we wouldn’t have so many GM’s who can’t figure out how to win more games.
Unfortunately for trade machine sycophants, YouTube MyLeaguers and the vast majority of the NBA’s executive group, more talent doesn’t always mean more wins. If it did, the 2019-20 Sixers would’ve been better. If it did, the 2018-19 Boston Celtics would’ve been better.
You get the point. This sport is played on the hardwood and not the excel sheet.
Sure, Al Horford is a really good player on face value but when you force him to do exactly none of the things he excelled at offensively in a year he takes a step back defensively because of his age, that’s a problem. Similarly, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier and Horford may be a better option than Kemba Walker and Daniel Theis one for one. However, when put around the constants on that Celtic roster and with coach Brad Stevens, it wasn’t particularly close.
As I’ve said previously, conservatively, about 95% of the NBA are players who need to be in the right role to be at or near their ceiling as players. Obviously the top five to 10 guys like LeBron, Kawhi and Harden are going to be great anywhere but they don’t speak for the rest of basketball.
Guys like Horford have a really defined set of skills they need to be allowed to use in order to be most effective. So, if Horford is best as a screener, passer, popper, having him stand in the corner and hoist up threes probably isn’t the best way to utilize him.
The same can be said for that Celtic roster that on paper had all these guys that could create their own shot. In practice though, they had all these guys that needed the basketball like Irving, Morris, Tatum, Rozier, Brown, Hayward and Smart and it failed miserably.
This sport at the highest level is about five different guys coalescing into one beautiful, ever-changing and moving organism.
What happens when you disregard how those pieces fit together though is you get different people pulling in different directions. It’s not Irving’s fault he needs the ball and it isn’t Morris, Tatum or Brown’s either. Whose fault it is, is the person who put it all together without thinking that as people, they have defined games and personalities and need to fit around each other.
Sometimes in the analytics era, we’ve lost the idea these players are people. These people have different emotions, thoughts and ideas and if you don’t take into account how those will mesh with those around them, you’ll get a clash.
Yes, some players do need to do a better job of accepting their role but that isn’t the point. There’s a difference between selfishly not accepting who you are as a player and rightly struggling with what you’re asked to do at times.
If I told you I built a starting five of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis you’d call me a fool for having only centres and you’d be right! Those players may be all top 25 guys but asking Gobert to play on a team with Embiid and Simmons makes literally no sense since none of them could even come close to touching their roles.
Obviously, that’s an extreme example. Similarly, talent is still the number one thing in this league because you need a certain level of talent to win.
That said, when you overvalue talent like the recent Sixers and Celtics did, you back yourself into a corner.
Learn from their mistakes NBA GM’s. Learn that fit is the hidden key to a title, no matter how intoxicating that extra bit of talent may be.