Michael Jordan only started winning titles when he started trusting his teammates and making them better. Magic Johnson was the greatest point guard ever and he won 5 titles in the 1980s. Larry Bird manages to win 3 titles in his career as one the best passing forwards of all time.
Basketball is a team game and it’s almost always so that the team that wins the title in any year will work well off of each other. The sum of the team is greater than the sum of the individual parts and basketball is no exception.
Nobody likes to be on the court with someone who just shots all the time. Those players always think they are better than everyone else and anyone that plays with them just gets bored. In order to win, especially at the highest level, you have to incorporate a team first style of looking to get the best shot possible with every offensive possession you have.
Here are my top five guys will get their teammates involved the most next year.
5. Lonzo Ball - Los Angeles Lakers
This year’s Summer League MVP, Lonzo Ball is showing that all the hype surrounding him and his dad, Lavar may well be justified. He did not shoot well from the field, in fact he was terrible in that regard.
38.2% from the field with 23.8% from beyond the arc indicates that he will struggle to score this season and that his offensive game needs a lot of work. He needs to add some weight to that lanky 6 foot 6 frame of his as he only weighs 190 lbs. He’ll get pushed around a lot and he will find it very hard to finish at the rim against behemoths like Dwight Howard or Hassan Whiteside.
I know he shot better than 40% from three at UCLA but that was with a shorter three point line and he wasn’t being guarded by the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley or Draymond Green.
His motion is so unorthodox that his release is very low and because he doesn’t elevate much it makes it very easy for semi-decent defenders to contest or even block his shot attempt. However, it wasn’t his scoring which caught the eyes of many NBA fans; it was his passing.
During the Summer League, he averaged an incredible 9.3 assists per game and was really terrific at getting his teammates involved. His court vision was exquisite and because he was rebounding so well, (7.7 a game), he was able to quickly ignite the Lakers on the fast break bringing back memories of the ‘Showtime’ Lakers with Magic Johnson.
4. Draymond Green - Golden State Warriors
Without question, Draymond Green makes my starting five in today’s NBA. His skillset is just perfect for what the Warriors need and without him they wouldn’t have one either of their two titles in the past three years.
Not only does he make his teammates better on offense with his 7 assists a game from the power forward position but he is also the best team defender in the game today. He makes everyone better on the defensive end by leading by example and being the Warrior’s voice at the back.
There’s no coincidence that he was second in the NBA in defensive rating last year. As soon as he comes on the court his presence alone increases his team’s defensive awareness and everybody feels the need to up their game and hustle lest they get an earful from Draymond.
3. James Harden - Houston Rockets
Mike D’Antoni yet again last season proved that he is an offensive genius. Moving Harden to the point guard and bringing in Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon meant that the Rockets had a league leading 14.4 made threes a game and were second in scoring at an average of 115.3 points an outing.
Harden was already a great passer as the season before he averaged 7.5 assists per game but this season he lead the league with an astounding 11.2. The amount of floor space he had created by all the shooters meant that he easily get to the rim and either finish or find an open man for a wide open three pointer.
According to NBA Stats, Harden created 27.1 points per game with his assists which was the most in the NBA. His skillset allowed the snipers in Houston to play to their full potential. James Harden was a big reason why Eric Gordon won the NBA’s best 6th man award last year.
2. Chris Paul - Houston Rockets
Although now CP3 is now down in Houston with James Harden, when he was will the LA Clippers and New Orleans Hornets he was widely considered the best pure point guard in the NBA.
Paul has the highest offensive rating of all time at 122.7 which is a testament to how he has lead his teams right from the start of his Hall of Fame career. He doesn’t just pass the ball extremely well but he is a terrific leader on the offensive end.
He controls the tempo with such poise that teammates always know which sets their running and where they should be at any one time. Having a guy like Paul as your main ball handler would anyone a huge boost in confidence whilst you were on the floor and that will be reflected in their playing style.
Players would shoot with more confidence, drive harder to the rim and cut with more precision and tenacity. I am very interested to see what the addition of CP3 does to the Rockets with their current system but if I’m sure of one thing it’s that they’ll be plenty more assists being dished out down in Houston.
1. LeBron James - Cleveland Cavaliers
There is no better teammate to have in basketball right now than the King himself. He is the guy most NBA players would choose to play with as they know that wherever possible he’ll get them involved.
The best player in the NBA always takes massive criticism for being too unselfish, especially when it comes to clutch moments. A great example of this was when the Cavs were playing the Celtics this regular season. Both teams were fighting for the number one seed and on March 1st and with Cleveland down 2 with 6 seconds to go, LBJ passed the ball to the wide open Deron Williams in the corner for three. D-Will missed the shot and the Celtics won the game.
Many people said that LeBron should have taken the last shot like Kobe would have done or Michael Jordan. But it was the right basketball play. Deron was new on the team and was looking to cement his place. Being trusted by LeBron to take that shot showed Deron that LeBron trusted him. Trust is a key asset for a team to have because then players have more confidence in each other which then boosts their own.
I challenge anyone to argue against that if every franchise started from scratch and the top 30 players were then selected, one to each team, that the rest of the NBA would want to go play for LeBron James.
He makes it that easy for them.