Numbers guy Nate Silver seems to think so.
A brief history lesson: From 1980-1988, the Lakers and Celtics had the most talent in the league and won eight of nine titles (Philadelphia won it all in 1983). The Pistons bridged the gap between Magic/Larry and Michael Jordan with back-to-back titles (thanks to defense). With perhaps the greatest player in league history, the Bulls won six of the next eight titles, with the Rockets taking two while Jordan attempted a baseball career. When Jordan retired from the Bulls, things got a bit muddy when trying to define an era – vastly underrated Tim Duncan won four titles between 1999-2007, Kobe and Shaq teamed up for three, D Wade and Shaq got one, and the 2004 Pistons won one (over that stacked but troubled Lakers team).
If you’re looking for a date when the “Superteams” idea began to take off – July 31, 2007. That’s when the Celtics pulled off a mega deal, trading for Kevin Garnett. They had acquired Ray Allen the month prior, and pairing those two with Paul Pierce – all three in their prime – made the Celtics favorites to win it all. On Feb. 1, 2008, the Lakers countered – they traded for Pau Gasol (in what we still consider one of the biggest heists in the NBA in the last 20 years) to set up their own version of a “Superteam” (Kobe, Gasol, Odom).
Boston and LA* once again had “Superteams.” And they have won the last three titles. But both teams are aging – Boston’s core was thought to be over the hill for much of last season, before a postseason surge; Kobe turns 32 this summer.
Last week, Miami joined Boston and LA in the “Superteams” mix with the Olympian trio of Wade, Bosh and LeBron.
Who’s next? We’ll guess …
* The Knicks. Not just because we root for them, but because Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul (even Deron Williams) are targets next year. The hope for a “Superteam” falls apart if ‘Melo signs that extension with Denver this summer.
* The Thunder. Two key pieces – Durant, Westbrook – are already in place. Crafty GM Sam Presti seems like the type that builds a smart, well-rounded team … but could he resist the lure of say, Dwight Howard, if the Magic go south in the next two seasons and the young and exciting Thunder are doing great things?
* The Bulls. Already have three key pieces in place – Rose, Boozer, Noah – and really are only a shooter away from being on the Heat’s level. (No Kyle Korver isn’t the guy; nor is JJ Redick.) Finding an elite 2/3 who is a great shooter is the problem. Indiana’s Danny Granger? Atlanta’s Joe Johnson? Both are locked up for the next few years (and would be expensive). If the Bulls settle for Redick, could he become Rondo-like (not in terms of skill set; just significantly better than what he is now) when surrounded by superstars?
* The Blazers. We’re looking for a piece to pair with Roy and Aldridge, and we’re thinking a pass-first point guard. The options are plentiful. Deron Williams, Stephen Curry … lots of pipe dreams out there.
* Even if you want to say that LA isn’t a “Superteam,” remember that Lamar Odom was once No. 4 overall pick, and on many teams, would be a No. 2 option.