The Dallas Mavericks are on the wrong path. Instead of following their intrastate brethren, the San Antonio Spurs on how to build a successful franchise, they are following the star-studded defending champs, the Miami Heat. And those two teams who are currently battling in the NBA Finals couldn’t be any more different from one another. Let’s take a look…
The San Antonio Spurs
We should go back all the way to the 1997 draft. The Spurs had the first overall pick in the NBA draft as a very fortunate consequence of an injury plagued 96-97 season in which all-star, David Robinson, missed most of. The team drafted Tim Duncan and so it began.
Finding a transcendent all-star is obviously the hard part. But what’s even tougher is knowing how to build a team around that all-star. It begins like this for most teams around the league. The big takeaway is that teams need a good share of good luck/bad luck to get started on the path to greatness. Then they need to build the right way in order to take the next step.
Don’t believe me? Look around the league. There are many good-to-great players capable of winning a championship. The only catch is – most are only truly capable if a team is built around them. When was the last time a single player won a title? The Dallas Mavericks? Sure, they only had one true Superstar (Dirk of course) but a great team was built around him.
Note: Just because a player is voted an all-star does not mean he fits the definition of a “Superstar” A True Superstar is a top 5 player at his position (or higher in many cases). He’s someone who earns his ranking by present-day great play and not fan popularity or past reputation for greatness. Finally he’s someone who will carry the team on his back for long stretches of time – Meaning he can singlehandedly win a game. Now that that is clear, let’s continue…
In fact, I believe the Spurs only have one true superstar on their team this year: Tony Parker. Duncan (a future Hall of Famer) is playing great but compared to other players around the league, he’s hardly an all-star anymore. Manu (also a sure Hall of Famer) finally turned it on, but he’s not anywhere close to the top of his game anymore.
Danny Green? Series MVP so far but he only averaged 11.8 points per game (4.1 rebounds 1.7 assists) this season. People would laugh if you referred to him as an all-star before the playoffs (after, of course, they asked, “who?” not even knowing what team he played for).
Half of the teams (or more) in the NBA have an all-star player capable of winning an NBA title. Then why haven’t they done it? Are the Spurs just lucky?
The Spurs have a model, a philosophy, a consistency. They have the same management team and same coach. They have retained their key players, while churning the remainder of their roster to infuse new talent. Payroll remains manageable because, despite what many think, they are young. Free Agency is looked at for role players and not key starters. Players are acquired through the draft and from the bottom of other teams’ benches. International acquisitions are made but rarely have a huge immediate media splash.
Manu Ginobili was drafted with the 57th pick – not in the lottery. Tony Parker was drafted with the 28th pick – also not in the lottery. They excel in scouting and developing players.
How has this strategy worked out for the Spurs? They have four titles (99, 03, 05, 07) and a top win percentage in the league over the past decade and a half. That’s about as good as anyone could ask for wouldn’t you say?
Despite this success both from a financial and basketball perspective the Dallas Mavericks are not paying attention. The Mavericks are committed to following the Miami Heat Model instead of the Spur Model
What is the Miami Heat Model?
Look for Part 2 of Dallas Mavericks Should Be like the Spurs – NOT the Heat, later today.
Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson