I love watching old-school NBA games. I always have. It shouldn’t be surprise to anyone that my favorite team to watch during the 1990s were the Chicago Bulls, winners of six championships in that decade. Like many other kids born and raised at about the same time, I have Space Jam to thank for my love of the game and everything that’s happened afterwards.
One of the great things about those old Bulls teams was that they had a lineup for almost every situation. If they needed size, they had the players to fill those roles. If they needed to play small ball, they ran the floor with the rebounding monster Dennis Rodman in the middle, Toni Kukoc at the 4, Scottie Pippen at the three, Michael Jordan at the two, and Ron Harper at the one. If size was necessary for the likes of a Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Rik Smits, Alonzo Mourning, or Shaquille O’Neal, Luc Longley was waiting in the wings…
…and he was pretty good at his job. When building a team, versatility is important. Let me establish something here: I don’t have a problem with small ball, but that doesn’t always work against the more rugged teams, contrary to what the 2012-2013 Miami HEAT will have you believe. Having a balanced roster filled with size and versatility makes things easier on everybody involved.
I believe in always having a contingency plan for everything. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is a ticking time bomb that could explode at the worst possible time. We shouldn’t fail to plan, because that is a plan to fail. This is why I believe you should always have a traditional big man on any roster. It doesn’t mean that we’re abandoning our culture. It just recognizes the fact that you can never have too much size in this league, and especially given our rebounding woes, it helps to have size specialists on the bench for certain situations.
It doesn’t mean we have to play them 35-40 minutes a game. Chris Andersen doesn’t get anywhere close to that, and yet he was been a success with us during the HEATles Era. Our system makes it very easy on big men, as they merely need to defend, rebound, and finish at the basket to keep defenders from collapsing around our slashers. Of course, that requires our slashers to perform at a high level.
That also opens the floor up even more for the shooters on our team, forcing defenders to choose between Dwyane Wade points at the basket, Bosh or Green points from midrange/deep, Whiteside in the paint, and so on. There’s nothing wrong with having a diversified offense, and I trust that we take that route. It’s all about making even more problems for opposing teams. How do you plan for a squad that has a competent lineup for every strategy you throw at them?
You can’t win them all, but I’d rather our losses not be because of a combination of a bad night by one or more of our guys AND the exploitation of a glaring weakness in our armor. That’s all I feel, really. Clearly our front office reflects this thinking. We’ll be fine.