Nothin’ But Net
There are two ways to make a successful team in the NBA. You can either load up on superstars and play off of their strengths, or build around several solid, borderline-All Star types, and go with strong coaching and team synergy.
Both methods have their positives and negatives. A star-studded team will get the calls down the stretch (as much as NBA fans are loathe to admit it), and will have that player or players to fall back on if they really need a basket. On the downside, a team built around superstars will do poorly if those players have an off night, and can be pretty predictable.
The team-based approach is strongest in its versatility. Since there isn’t a designated end-of-the-game dominator, teams won’t know what to expect, making the team harder to stop. Sadly, teams like this won’t get help from the refs, and will definitely miss that savior-type in close games.
Why do I bring up the two types of successful teams right now? Simple — both types are on full display right now. There’s the superstar-driven Miami Heat, and the everyone’s-pretty-equal Denver Nuggets. As of right now, both are on huge winning streaks (if either one loses Monday night, this page is officially cursed), and are seriously looking like the teams to beat heading into the postseason.
Everyone knows about the Heat. LeBron, and Wade and Bosh to lesser extents, are the only players who really matter on that team. They go as those three go. Sure, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers come in handy, but if they don’t play, it’s no big deal.
Not everyone knows too much about the Nuggets though. Go ahead, name three guys on that team. Even if you manage that (by, say, naming Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried), try to pick the best player. You probably won’t be able to, and that’s the point of the team. They don’t have a superstar, they didn’t have any All-Stars this season, and they just play solid team basketball.
The reason we all know so much about one and nothing about the other is easy to figure out — We, as sports fans, care about the stars. So what if the team that lacks them might just be the most exciting to watch over the next few weeks? They just don’t have the drama and intrigue that comes with superstar talent.
OK, I should probably get to my point now, the column’s almost out of space.
Here’s what I’m saying: pay more attention to the other teams, the ones that aren’t named the Heat, Lakers, Knicks and Thunder. Those teams might just be the most fascinating ones to watch these next few weeks, and come playoff time, let me tell you, no one wants to play these Nuggets.
And if they meet the Heat in the Finals, then hold on to your hats, that series may just be the best we’ve had in years.
I May Be Wrong, But…
Here are the moves I would make in Fantasy Basketball this week:
Add: Players who are in action that night. At this point, there likely aren’t many decent players left to grab (except maybe Kosta Koufos, who may still be under everyone’s radar), so just focus on those players suiting up. More games played equals more points for you, no reason not to take every advantage you can.
Drop: Players who aren’t playing that night. We’re in the stretch run for real now, so no need to be picky. Obviously hang on to your top tier guys, but really start shifting around to maximize playing time, every little bit at this point in the season helps. Oh, and Marc Gasol just went down with an injury, you might want to drop him at this point, he might not play again in the regular season.
Look Out For: Last week, I said in this spot to look out for the MVP candidates. You don’t have to do that anymore, since LeBron James has that title all wrapped up. Now, I’m not a James fan, but even I’m excited to see how he’ll finish the season. If he goes for a quadruple-double, entire leagues could change.
Be Cautious Of: The tanking teams. Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix and New Orleans have already been eliminated from playoff contention, with more to follow soon. If a team can’t make the playoffs, they’ll be looking for the top lottery picks, and therefore might make injuries seem a bit more serious than they really are.