Chemistry is one of the most important but underrated pieces to building a championship team. The recent article on SFGate about the Warriors' chemistry got me thinking about this.
Nelson calls the Warriors "one of the best chemistry teams (I've had), and I've been around a lot of good ones. But this one's really, really tight." "To see each guy kind of rely on each other, lean on each other, to have someone carry their weakness they struggle with and another guy pick them up? I think from that standpoint, it's been a truly team effort to get here."
The Pistons are a team with great chemistry and because of that they are able to win without a superstar. Players know their roles and they work very well together. For the most part, this team has been together for several years and because of that, know each other's tendencies on the court very well.
On the other hand, I think back to the Laker team that had 4 future Hall of Famers on it in Shaq, Kobe, Payton and Malone. They even had a future Hall of Fame coach and should have been able to win the championship that year. On paper, they were a lock to win it all. But, they didn't have any chemistry. There was in-fighting and bickering the entire year and I believe that is what kept that team from winning it all. They had the talent but didn't have any chemistry.
I believe that the reason that our USA teams have fallen from prominence is that they aren't together long enough to build any chemistry between the players. You throw together a group of players used to playing against each other and let them practice for a few weeks and expect them to develop chemistry. These teams have the best players in the league on them and should be able to dominate. European teams are together for years and just have better chemistry and that translates into a stronger team. I believe that with the current team, they are taking a better approach by having the core group together for several years, but they still won't have the kind of chemistry that many of the international teams have built by playing together day in and out for years.
Previously, the Celtics had chemistry problems with Blount, Banks and Raef. One by one, Danny moved them to bring in players who would be better team players. We now have a great group of players. All want to be here and all are hard workers and I just don't see any of them not working together for the good of the team. They get along on and off the court. Most of the team has been together for 2 or 3 years now and are learning each other's tendencies. They have been bulding chemistry and genuinely like playing together.
An often missed element of picking players, Ah and everybody starts going like the football coaches used to go by. Times and by how fast they were in the forty and what have you. Been my experience that the players with the best character, the players that truly love to play, the so called gym rats, who may not quite have all the talent these other guys have, but that by the end of their careers they will work themselves in to be great contributers to a program. And I've seen many players like that help a basketball program. They are not the star, but end up being great contributers. And so, the character guys, the guys that are willing to work, the guys that love to play the game, the guys that would pay ownership to play. Those are the kinda guys that you want to pick and that should be an important part of the mix.
I believe that Danny has brought in some very good character guys. Perk, Al, Delonte, Gomes, Rondo and Powe are all good character guys. They work hard, love to play and even more are good people. Tony Allen has learned his lesson after his brush with the law and I believe that it has built good character in him. Scal for all of his criticism is one of the best character guys in the NBA.
As with the Pistons, this team has been together for several years now. They are a young team, but have been getting better year by year. They went through some very tough times this past season with all of the injuries and the 18 game losing streak. But not once did we hear any of the players turn on each other or blame anyone for a loss. They stuck together and stayed positive. I believe that this experience will draw the team even closer together. And hopefully whoever is added to the team this season will fit in with the players we already have and become just as close. One of the keys to winning will be whether our team can develop the type of chemistry where they have each other's backs and trust each other. They have found this kind of chemistry off the court and to some degree on the court due to the tough times they have been through. Now they just need to display it on the court on a regular basis.