Another NBA off season. Another blow to the heart for a fan of a small market NBA team.
The Indiana Pacers had money. They have a team one year removed from scarring the crap out of the NBA champions. A team, as is, that could very well be the #2 team in East. We are young. We have talent at the 5, talent at the wing, a veteran presence at the 1 and 3.
We just needed a star. We just need that one guy to come in and elevate us to the "in the discussion" status. One player to bring fans back to Conseco. One player to give fans hope that we can indeed challenge the big dogs in the NBA. Our team is literally built to have a star come in and make us a true contender.
The problem? Indianapolis is small. Indiana is essentially land locked. Indiana gets cold. Their are no movie stars. The big name free agents didn't even give us more than a passing glance.
Not only did we not land a single difference maker, but we had to overpay to keep our own "stars." 40 million for a point guard who isn't sniffing the top 10 point guard rankings. Max money for a player that can't carry a team on its back.
Are we a good team? Hell yeah. Thanks to an ACL tear, we could win the division and be the #2 team in the East.
No, we don't. And really... I think I am ok with that right now
There are really only three ways a build a true title contender in the NBA right now.
1) Be a big market team with a really rich owner
2) Get Lucky
- The Thunder are the best small market team in the NBA right now. How did they build there team to be the model franchise for small market teams? They got really fucking lucky. Got the #2 pick in a draft and ended up with the best player. Ended up sucking bad enough again to get a top 5 pick. Ended up sucking enough AGAIN to get another top 5 pick. Happened to find a player like Ibaka at #24. And yes, that is lucky, the end of drafts are educated crap shoots. Have the Thunder made some good decisions? Of course! But those good decisions don't mean shit if they didn't get really lucky over and over and over again.
- Lakers traded for Kobe and he panned out big time. They drafted Bynum late in the draft and it panned out big time. They ripped off the Grizzlies for Gasol. But they have the owner who will pay and keep acquiring more and more assets. They live in a huge market that makes it attractive for Howard and Nash.
What are teams like the Pacers and Nuggets doing? None of the above. They are just acquiring good players. And they will have a good season. And they will have a good record. And they will have a good run in the playoffs.
But a championship? Never. Not unless the stars align and teams best players tear their knees the night before the game.
So the options for small teams is to tank and get lucky. And frankly, I don't think I could watch a team tank year and year, praying that a big time talent falls to them multiple years in a row and then praying the star player will stay with the team when his contract is up.
I will take good. I will take watching the Pacers win 50ish games this year. It will be fun, even if in the back of my mind I know seeing Granger raise that big trophy will never happen. But when playoff time comes, I will sit there and scream and yell and hope against hope that they slay a giant. And when they inevitably lose, I will go into the draft, and yell at the management for not taking a chance on some 19 year old with potentially at the 25th spot who will likely never start a game in his life because I am hoping against decades of statistics he is the "star" we need. And then, the preseason will start and I will start all over again.
At this point, the way the NBA is right now, that is ok with me. Is it ok with you?