NBA Superteams: a clever or foolish idea?

Olivia Ellerbruch, Editor-In-Chief

One of the most common aspects of NBA teams is trading players to create what is now commonly called a “superteam.” The classic definition of a “superteam” is a team that has three or more star players who have been All Stars at least once, that join a team with the primary focus of winning a championship. While creating a superteam has worked in many instances, other times, it has made a turn for the worst. 

The first superteam that we saw was the Miami Heat of 2010-2014 with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They made the NBA finals all four seasons they played together and won the championship twice within their four years together. The Golden State Warriors of 2014-2017 also had a dominant hold on the entire league primarily because of lucky draft choices. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all drafted from the Warriors and now share 17 NBA All-Star Nominations combined. While already being such a strong force, the franchise added fellow NBA powerhouse Kevin Durant to their roster in 2016. The team made the NBA finals five years in a row and won the championship three out of five of these appearances. Durant ultimately left at the end of the 2019 season for his next superteam attempt; the Brooklyn Nets.

With former player Steve Nash becoming the new coach of the Brooklyn Nets and Durant going there as well, it was inevitable that a superteam would occur. Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant all made their way to Brooklyn and completed the three star player triad of a superteam creation. The team was highly talked about and every sports analyst agreed that their rise to stardom and championships was inevitable, but of course, this did not happen. Injuries, vaccination status and clashing personalities ended the short lived empire of the Brooklyn Nets. Due to Durant and Irving both experiencing injuries, as well as Irving not being able to play at home games due to his vaccination status, the three stars ended up only playing in 16 games together compared to the usual games.

Over the course of a few weeks, a combination of mysterious tweets and league rumors led to a trade of Harden and a lower role player, Paul Milllsap, going to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets gaining All-Star Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and two first round draft picks. Harden has now forced his way out of two franchises, and while he is such an offensive threat, is now being seen as a cautious gain for any team that tries to bring him onto their roster. 

The final superteam that has not led up to its expectations is the current Los Angeles Lakers. With Lebron James practically being the general manager of the team, he recruited Anthony Davis in July of 2019 and Russell Westbrook in August of 2021. However, while all three boast multiple accolades and accomplishments in the league, working together has not been their strong suit. The team is currently ranked ninth overall in the West, with a record of 26-31. The Lakers were looking for a third member to complete the superteam triad and found it presumably in Westbrook. However, he is not fitting into the mold as they hoped. His skills are very different from what they needed; shooting. Westbrook has constantly depended on his athleticism and as he and James are both getting older, they are more prone to injuries and their minutes need to be reduced . With the trade gain of Westbrook, it is clear that the Lakers made one mistake; they wrongly assumed that a star would automatically fit.

While it is almost impossible to determine if a superteam will work, in my eyes, it hardly seems worth it to max out contracts and force players together simply because of their impeccable stats. Some players simply do not work together, and many coaches and general managers are blind to this. The Lakers are still hopeful that their season turns around, but it seems unlikely this will happen. Will the trend of superteams continue after two franchises failed this season, or will powerhouse players’ egos still rule all and determine who gets traded?