With NBA teams attempting to create their own Big 3 to counter the Miami Heat’s version, the harsh reality is that there are only but so many difference making superstars like Dwight Howard in the NBA to go around. So once those superstars settle into their own Big 3’s, what’s the rest of the NBA to do?
Maybe the answer is instead of having a Big 3, you build a “Small 5.” What’s a Small 5 you ask? It’s what I call a team that doesn’t have one or two really great superstars, but five or more really good players that can come together and bring the same thing to the table that a Big 3 does, except it comes from five players and not three.
A recent example of a Small 5 would be the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitski, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and Caron Butler. This team also had Shawn Marion, Jose Barea and Peja Stojakovic. Not nearly as much star power as the Miami Heat had, but they had enough fire power, not only to hang with the Heat, but to beat them.
However, that team didn’t stay together long after their triumph. But one team that did, was the Chauncey Billups / Rasheed Wallace led Detroit Pistons. That team basically had an All-Star or near All-Star at every position. And maybe none of those players could be considered Hall of Fame caliber individually, but as a collective they took the Pistons to an NBA Championship in 2004 and they made a return trip to the Finals in 2005, losing to the San Antonio Spurs.
Joining Billups and Wallace in this Small 5 was Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. This is the type of team that the rest of the NBA should aspire to build. G.M. Joe Dumars did a fantastic job at putting that team together. So if you have a savvy General Manager, it would probably be a lot more practical building this type of team, than it would trying to lure the top superstar free agents to form a Big 3.
A Small 5 could also give a team an advantage, especially if injuries occur. One of a Big 3 going down for an extended amount of time to injury would be highly detrimental to the that team’s championship aspirations. So losing one of five, theoretically shouldn’t hurt as much.
But if you are trying to build a dynasty, a Small 5 probably isn’t what you’re looking for. This is not the kind of team that will win multiple championships. And that kind of goal shouldn’t even be a consideration for most NBA teams. However, one championship is doable as the 2011 Mavericks and 2004 Pistons proved.
So unless you’re a big market team or lucky enough to build your Big 3 through the lottery like Oklahoma City, then your team will probably never have a Big 3. But there is another alternative, and maybe building a Small 5 is the best way to go.