When it comes to star power in the NBA, there's none shining brighter right now than that of reigning MVP Steph Curry. Curry's Golden State Warriors are the defending NBA Champions and they kicked off the 2015-16 season by going a record 16-0. Many are wondering if the Warriors can match the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record of 72 wins. Although according to former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman it isn't a big deal because "We did it first".
Of course, Curry isn't doing this all on his own. He has a strong supporting cast that includes Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala, much like the Michael Jordan led Bulls had Rodman and Scottie Pippen. As much as the NBA is a league built around its stars and one player can often put a team on his back and carry them to a winning season and in some instances even an NBA Championship, at the end of the day it's still a league where to have any sustainable, long term success - and to keep your star happy - you need to have a strong supporting cast.
Not every Curry has their Thompson and not every Jordan has their Pippen. Sometimes a team finds a star player, but fails to add talented enough players to help him out. Sometimes the player can play well enough to lead his team into the playoffs and he may even find some postseason success, but often times the story ends without an NBA Championship and leaves the player feeling frustrated. A frustrated player on a poor team is a recipe for disaster and can often times end with the player leaving to find success elsewhere. So if you're the owner of an NBA team, you may want to find some help for your star player so he won't end up like these 15 stars:
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15 Antawn Jamison
After being drafted fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors in 1998, Jamison was sent to the Golden State Warriors in a draft day swap for Vince Carter. Jamison played his first five seasons with the Warriors on atrocious teams that couldn't surpass the 21 win mark until his final season in the Golden State. The only teammate of note during Jamison's Golden State tenure was a young Gilbert Arenas.
In the summer of 2003 the Warriors dealt Jamison to the Dallas Mavericks, where he finally got an opportunity to play in the playoffs, alongside Dirk Nowitski and Steve Nash.
14 Paul Pierce
Pierce began his career as part of a formidable 1-2 punch for the Boston Celtics with power forward Antoine Walker, but Walker was traded prior to the 2003-04 season and the Boston's play soon dropped off. The Celtics tried to build around Pierce with young players instead of adding any proven talent and by 2006-07 the Truth was stuck on a team of young, but unproductive players that looked to be going nowhere.
They finished the season with an abysmal 24-58 record, with Pierce missing much of the year with an injury. The following offseason Pierce finally got some support when the Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and the team went on to win the 2008 NBA Championship.
13 Carmelo Anthony
'Melo's situation is partially his own doing. Anthony began his career with the Nuggets and they built a competitive team around him, but in Anthony's final season before free agency in 2010-11 it became apparent his desire was to play in New York. Anthony was traded to the Knicks in a three team deal and signed a three year extension. Things haven't exactly worked out for 'Melo in New York. The Amar'e Stoudemire experiment was a disaster and all other attempts to lure big name free agents have failed.
The Knicks were knocked out of the first round in the two postseasons after acquiring Melo and although they finished the 2012-13 season atop the Atlantic Division and made it to the second round of the playoffs, their roster contained several veterans who were at the end of the careers in Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, and Marcus Camby. A much less talented Knicks squad missed the playoffs the following season. Anthony had a chance to go to a team where he would have a strong supporting cast when he became a free agent in the summer of 2014, but he chose to sign a five year extension with the Knicks. and help them finish the 2014-15 season in the basement of the Eastern Conference with a 17-65 record.
12 Vince Carter
Carter's rookie season in the lockout shortened 1998-99 season and his performance in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest put Toronto on the NBA map. Carter led the Raptors to the playoffs in three straight seasons from 1999-00 to 2000-02. The 1999-00 squad featured a not yet established Tracy McGrady, but he soon departed and Carter was left with very little support outside of Antonio Davis who emerged as an All-Star in 2000-01.
The Raptors missed the playoffs in 2002-03 and again in 2003-04 despite drafting Chris Bosh and adding Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall in a midseason trade for Davis part way through the season. When the Raptors set out to hire a new general manager, Carter became frustrated that he wasn't given a say in the hiring and demanded a trade. Carter quit trying for the the team that had failed to give him an adequate supporting cast and was ultimately traded to the New Jersey Nets.
11 Dominique Wilkins
Wilkins played parts of 12 seasons with the Hawks from 1982-83 to 1993-94, averaging 26.4 points, 6.9 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game. The Hawks never surrounded him with much talent and they only finished atop their division once and never made it past the second round of the playoffs.
Wilkins got some support when he was joined by a 33-year old Moses Malone in 1988-89 for three seasons. The Hawks also acquired All-Star point guard Mookie Blaylock prior to the 1992-93 season, but other than that Wilkins was given very little help to win a Championship.
10 Tracy McGrady
After beginning his career with the Toronto Raptors, McGrady grew tired of playing in the shadow of his cousin Vince Carter and left to join the Orlando Magic, hoping to form a threatening duo with Grant Hill. Unfortunately, during McGrady's four seasons in Orlando, Hill was limited to 47 games by injuries. McGrady established himself as a star with the Magic, winning two scoring titles, but the lack of talent around him led to three straight first round exits, before the team missed the playoffs altogether in 2003-04.
McGrady finally got the chance to play with another star when he teamed up with Yao Ming after a trade to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2004, only to see Ming's career cut short by injuries too.
9 Pete Maravich
Pistol Pete began his career with the Atlanta Hawks on a team that featured All-Star Lou Hudson, but little else. The Hawks made the playoffs in each of Maravich's first two seasons despite posting a losing record of 36-46 both years. They managed to turn things around, leading to a 46-36 record in Maravich's third season, but all three years ended in second round playoff exits.
After missing the playoffs the following season, Maravich joined the expansion New Orleans Jazz. He played parts of six seasons for the Jazz, including the team's first season in Utah, but he never had the support to get the team into the playoffs and they never won more than 39 games during Maravich's tenure. In his final season, Maravich was waived by the Jazz and finally got to join a winning team when he signed with the Larry Bird led Boston Celtics and helped them to a division title.
8 Clyde Drexler
Clyde the Glide played parts of 12 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers and played with stars such as Jim Paxson and Kiki Vandeweghe, but never had enough talent around him to win a title in Portland. Oddly enough the teams Drexler carried to NBA Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992 featured neither of those two stars and lacked much beyond Drexler aside from point guard Terry Porter.
It wasn't until he was dealt to the Houston Rockets midway through the 1994-95 season that Drexler was able to win an NBA Championship.
7 Grant Hill
Grant Hill was star for the Detroit Pistons during his first six NBA seasons, but the Pistons failed to give Hill much support beyond their acquisition of Jerry Stackhouse during the 1997-98 season. The team missed the playoffs twice during Hill's time in Detroit and all four of their playoff appearances ended with the Pistons going home after the opening round. In the summer of 2000, Hill joined the Orlando Magic who hoped to build around him and the recently acquired Tracy McGrady, but a severe ankle injury derailed Hill's career.
6 Allen Iverson
The Answer played parts of 11 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers. The height of the team's success came in 2000-01 when Iverson was named NBA MVP and led the 76ers to the NBA Finals with a team that included a 35-year-old Dikembe Mutombo and not much else. In the two seasons that followed, the 76ers failed to make it beyond the second round and they missed the postseason in 2003-04.
After drafting Andre Iguodala in 2004 and trading for Chris Webber part way through the 2004-05 season, the 76ers believed they had finally found some help for Iverson. Unfortunately the team continued to struggle and went through multiple coaching changes before Iverson's frustration gave in and he demanded a trade early in the 2006-07 campaign. Iverson eventually joined Carmelo Anthony in Denver after a trade to the Nuggets.
5 Kevin Garnett
Early in the Big Ticket's career, the Minnesota Timberwolves were a perennial playoff team, but their ability to provide Garnett with top notch talent suffered greatly when they violated the salary cap in 1999 trying to sign Joe Smith. The Timberwolves were fined $3.5 million, lost several draft picks and owner Glen Taylor was suspended, while general manager Kevin McHale took a leave of absence.
Although the team finished first in their division and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2003-04 after bringing in veteran stars Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, their play dropped off after the departure of head coach Flip Saunders. The Timberwolves missed the playoffs, finishing ninth, in 2004-05 and after Cassell and Sprewell left and Wally Szczerbiak was traded, they plummeted further down the standings.
Kevin Garnett spent the next two seasons on a team that was near the bottom of the Western Conference and appeared to have no future in sight, before he was traded to the Celtics and won an NBA Championship.
4 Hakeem Olajuwan
During the Dream's early years with the Houston Rockets, he teamed up with Ralph Sampson to form the "Twin Towers." The duo led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals in just Olajuwan's second season, but injuries soon took their toll on Sampson and he was traded to the Golden State Warriors midway through the 1987-88 season. Over the next few years, the Rockets wouldn't surround Olajuwan with much talent and the team suffered four consecutive first round exits before missing the playoffs in 1991-92.
Olajuwan would then post the best seasons of his career, winning NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 and 1994 and NBA MVP in 1994. He carried the Rockets to an NBA Championship in 1994 while taking home Playoff MVP honors as well. Although his supporting cast had improved by that point, it ranks fourth worst among NBA Finals teams since 1985 using multi-year Statistical Plus/Minus talent projections posted on FiveThirtyEight.com.
By the time the Rockets won the NBA Championship again in 1995 they had finally supplied Olajuwan with another Hall of Fame teammate in the form of Clyde Drexler.
3 Kobe Bryant
It was an embarrassment of riches for a long time for the Los Angeles Lakers when they were winning three straight NBA Titles with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal from 1999-00 to 2000-02. O'Neal left after the 2003-04 season and Bryant was left with very little support, aside from Lamar Odom.
The Lakers missed the playoffs, finishing 11th in the Western Conference in 2004-05. They made it back to the postseason the following season but were eliminated in the first round in back to back years. Bryant became frustrated with the Lakers' inability to put together a winning team and demanded a trade. The Lakers convinced their star player to stay and appeased Bryant by trading for Pau Gasol midway through the 2007-08 season, paving the way for two more NBA Championships in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
2 Oscar Robertson
Robertson began his NBA career in 1960-61 by nearly averaging a triple double with 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game on a Cincinnatti Royals team that featured Hall of Famers Wayne Embry and Jack Twyman. He was later joined on the Royals by Jerry Lucas. However, the team never won a Championship and by 1966-67 Embry and Twyman were both gone, leaving Robertson and Lucas to carry the load. The lack of support around the pair contributed to three straight playoff absences, beginning in 1967-68.
At the end of the 1969-70 season, Robertson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks where he teamed with Lew Alcindor - the man who would become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - to win an NBA Championship a year later.
1 Lebron James
During Lebron's first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the King didn't have much to work with, but he still carried a team featuring past their prime players Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes and rookie starting point guard Daniel Gibson to the 2007 NBA Finals. The 2007 Cavaliers rank as the second worst supporting cast of an NBA Finals team since 1985 based on FiveThirtyEight.com's projections.
James finally got some support when he left the Cavaliers and joined stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat where he won two NBA Championships. Lebron returned to Cleveland in the summer of 2014 on a team that he thought would have a better opportunity to win than his previous Cavaliers teams. Once again he had to carry the team to the NBA FInals in 2015 when Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving were all suffering injuries, leaving him with a supporting cast that ranked third worst among NBA Finals teams since 1985.
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