McChesney identifies who he thinks are the truly elite talents in today's NBA that the Grizzlies will have to contend with when the 3YP is complete: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudamire, Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and Yao Ming. These are McChesney's Gold Medal superstars. I will add Greg Oden and Kevin Durant to that list. The big question for the Memphis Grizzlies is can Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo or Mike Conley make it it to Gold Medal superstar status. If they can't then it is implorable that they acquire one of the above nine players by any means possible. This is why the Mayo trade was a must do. Although Mike Miller and Kevin Love are good players (Love should be better than Miller), Mayo has a chance to reach superstar status. No amount of good players is worth passing up on a gold medal superstar.
McChesney makes this statement:
The moral of the story could not be clearer: Smart GMs, and smart fans, have to always be thinking about how their team can get a hold of a gold medal superstar, or, if it is the best you can do, a couple of silver medal superstars. It is the single most important issue before an NBA GM. Once you have your superstar(s), then your job is to surround him with the pieces to win a title, but that is a day at the beach compared to trying to get a gold or silver medal superstar in the first place.
On 40 of these 52 teams, the best player was one of the 21 gold medal superstars, the elite of the elite of the elite. In basketball, more than any other team sport, getting a player for the ages is essential for championships. Mere all-stars, even several of them, ain’t gonna get the job done. And 8 of the 11 champions that did not have a gold medal superstar leading it, had at least two players from this list on the team, in their primes, at least one of whom was silver-medal. (The exceptions? Rick Barry’s 75 Warriors, Elvin Hayes’s 78 Bullets, and Dennis Johnson’s 79 Sonics. These champions defeated teams in the finals that were similarly under armed; these were “down” years for the league. The late 70s was almost like a Bermuda Triangle for the NBA. Accordingly these are regarded as among the weaker champions in NBA history.)
It gets worse, or better, depending if your team has one of these guys. It is not just about winning titles; it is about getting within sniffing distance of winning titles. All but three of the losers in the NBA finals since 1956-57 have been led by one of these 80 superstars. (The exceptions? The 2000 Pacers, the 1978 Sonics and the 1971 Bullets.) So dig this: only 3 of the 104 teams that have played in the NBA finals were not led by a player on this list. Teams led by bronze medal superstars account for only 9 of these 104 teams, so even having one of them is hardly a winning ticket.
And over one-half of these runner-up teams in the NBA over the past 52 years have been led by gold medal superstars. That means 21 players have led 68 of the 104 teams that have played in the NBA finals since 1956-57. Considering how short Bill Walton’s effective career was, that really means 20 guys.
To put it in even more stark terms: the 28 finalist losers that were led by gold medal superstars lost to champions led by gold medal superstars 22 times. As a general rule, gold trumps silver and silver trumps bronze and nobody else is even allowed to play.
If I get a superstar player, you know I said 3-5 years, hell I might be able to get there in 2 years. I might be willing to do what I said I wouldn't do and get an older player so everything changes depending on what the opportunity is.