The enticing menu of soon-to-be available NBA free agents will result in unheard-of sums of money being bid for various superstars. Some teams even have sufficient salary cap space to pursue double-dip signings. That's why the next few weeks will be nearly as intriguing and exciting as the Lakers-Celtics Finals were.
However, the presence of future Hall of Famers in twos or even threes does not necessarily guarantee NBA championships. Exhibit A is the trio of Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor that won zero championships.
It could be argued that several Celtics triumvirates were incredibly successful, e.g., the likes of Bill Russell-Sam Jones-John Havlicek. However, both Russell and Hondo didn't need to have their respective numbers called for them to score. In essence, these two guys were Hall of Fame role players.
In any event, let's analyze how some of the proposed combos might or might not work out.
James and Wade essentially have the same game plan: Attack the rim with speed and power, make jump shots on a streaky yet inconsistent basis, execute assist passes mostly on the go, create scoring opportunities on virtually all high screen/rolls and play earnest but overrated man-to-man defense.
Both guys also need extraordinarily large chunks of ball time to be effective, as well as requiring open lanes to the rim. As such, fitting them into a smoothly functioning offense would be extremely difficult. Indeed, the most tempting (because it's the easiest) option would be to have LeBron, say, dominate the ball and unilaterally initiate the attack. Then, should three possessions come up empty, the same responsibilities would be shifted to Wade.
For these two stellar talents to function on a championship-caliber team, several other pieces must be in place. Such as a pass-first point guard who can routinely knock down open shots; a mobile rebound-eater who also can set heavy-duty screens and hit mid-range jumpers; plus another rebounding, shot-blocking big to compensate for everybody else's defensive deficiencies. Three-point shooters coming off the bench would also be mandatory, as would a creative wing scorer to maintain the high-octane offense when either LBJ or D-Wade takes a blow.
Whoever the complementary players might or might not be, the pairing of James and Wade would always be exciting to witness.
WADE and CARLOS BOOZER
Wade and Boozer would be an interesting but fatally flawed match. Boozer certainly can score in the low post, hit mid-range jays, rebound like a fiend and work well with Wade in high screen/rolls. But because Boozer's defense is so inept, his frontcourt partner would have to specialize in defense and blocked shots. And, of course, a pass-and-shoot point would likewise be necessary.
In sum, Boozer is really a smaller, healthier and somewhat more reliable version of Jermaine O'Neal, and therefore not a good fit with Wade.
WADE and AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE
These two would be comfortable playing an uptempo pace and a screen/roll-oriented half-court offense. Stoudemire's belief that blocking an occasional shot is all the defense he needs to play -- plus his reluctance to bang bodies in the battle of the boards -- means that a rebounding, defensive-minded big also would have to be added to the roster. Moreover, Stoudemire tends to hang his head when he's not his team's go-to scorer. With Wade in the mix, Stoudemire's head could be hanging around his knees by Christmas.
WADE and CHRIS BOSH
This is probably the best fit here. Bosh is a slasher, a face-the-hoop scorer with a deadly mid-range jumper, a finesse rebounder and a runner, who is much better suited to being a second option on offense than he is to bearing the too-heavy burden of trying to be a bona-fide franchise player. To make this pair compatible, a powerhouse big who can play above-average position defense is a must -- in addition to a hot-shooting wing and the aforementioned pass-and-shoot trigger man.
LEBRON and BOOZER
The same specifically skilled point guard, a wing who can score with his feet set and off his dribble, plus a bouncy, shot-erasing center are all de rigueur for these two guys to entertain serious championship ambitions. This combo is a no-go.
LEBRON and STOUDEMIRE
This would be a perfect parley for a quick-hitting offense, especially since his tenure with Steve Nash has enabled Amar'e to master the art of dive-, trail- and cross-cutting without the ball. Yet minus a rebounding, defensive stud and a point who can limit LBJ's solo-mio adventures, this combo would ultimately disappoint.
LEBRON and BOSH
This also constitutes the best match in this LBJ-centric exercise. As with Stoudemire, this pairing would be most effective because Bosh can prowl the baseline and the elbows and benefit from defenses two-timing James and clogging the paint. The difference being that Bosh is a better rebounder and a more versatile point-maker and he also knows his place in the NBA cosmos. A jumbo but mobile center, a hot-shot small forward and the perfect primary ball-handler could help them pose a serious challenge to the Lakers' supremacy.
LEBRON, WADE AND BOSH
And what about the lively rumor that's floating around claiming that LBJ and Bosh will join Wade in Miami?
Who's the Batman in this threesome? Who's Robin? And who's Alfred the Butler?
Clearly, Bosh will have to drastically reduce the ball-time and the shots that he's used to. If being the second banana fits Bosh's temperment, how about being relegated to being the third banana? Somehow it's difficult to imagine Bosh being happy as a mere role player.
Should this scenario come to pass, the Heat would still need a bruiser to cruise the paint, rebound and defend, as well as a pass-and-shoot point guard.
Defense will be a continuing problem, as will shot distribution, ball-reversal, and post-up scoring.
However, this combo could work if the NBA allows the Heat to play offense with mnore than one basketball.
Of course, there are other factors that must be considered. Any prospective coach must be equipped with sufficient expertise and charisma and the kind of track record that absolutely demands respect. This is essential for the coach to be able to implement the discipline, commitment and dedication to defense that characterize all championship teams.
Moreover, egos have to be checked at the door, personal responsibility freely assumed, diminished roles gladly accepted and championship-level intensity established and maintained from the opening tip to the final buzzer, regardless of the score and the quality of the opponents.
There's much more to winning an NBA title than assembling the players with the best numbers. Attitude can always trump aptitude.