About ten days ago I posted a brief comment examining how many “stars” and “super-stars” a team needs to win a title. Looking at the teams that won an NBA title from 1980 to the present, we see that only three teams – the 1994 Houston Rockets, the 2006 Miami Heat, and the 2009 LA Lakers – have managed to win an NBA title without a “super-star” (defined as a player with a WP48 – Wins Produced per 48 minutes — in excess of 0.300). And only four teams – the 1987 LA Lakers, the 1994 Houston Rockets, the 2002 LA Lakers, and the 2004 Detroit Pistons — have won a title without two “stars” (defined as a player with a WP48 in excess of o.200). In sum, of the 30 teams that have won a title since 1980, only six teams managed to win a title without at least one “super-star” and one more player who was a “star.”
Such analysis leads one to ask: How many teams in 2009-10 managed to meet this criteria? The answer – reported in the following table* – reveals only five teams employed both a “super-star” and at least one “star” this past season. And Portland only fits this criteria if we include Greg Oden and Nicolas Batum in our analysis (both played less than 1,000 minutes due to injury).
If we look at teams that had a “super-star” (but no one else who was a “star”) or employed multiple “stars” (but no “super-star”), we see eight more teams. Of these, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Philadelphia completely missed the playoffs. And Boston – much to my chagrin – might win the title in 2010.
The above two tables only included 13 teams. That means 17 teams in the NBA failed to employ a “super-star” or multiple “stars”. And according to the criteria listed above, were not likely to win a title. Of course, included in this list we see the Phoenix Suns. And the Suns – like Boston – can win the title this year. Despite this point, it does appear that most NBA teams were not title contenders this past season.
Let me close by noting that of these 17 “non-contenders”, the Houston Rockets, the LA Clippers, the New Jersey Nets, and Sacramento Kings did not employ a single player with a WP48 in excess of 0.200. This makes the season the Rockets had this past season even more impressive.
*- the numbers I report were not taken from the Wins Produced website of Andres Alvarez, but are my own calculations of WP48 and Wins Produced. In other words, these numbers reflect how I allocated players across positions.