Still The Best Ever?
The Heat officially signed Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the 9th player on the roster, joining Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Jamaal Magloire, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and the big three, Bosh, Wade and LeBron.
That team is looking pretty goddamn good right now. Definitely one of the best in the NBA and an obvious title contender. But, is this an all-time great team? It's impossible to say before they've even played a game (let alone a full season) but on paper, we can at least look at some comparisons. I am obviously assuming that the 96 Bulls are the best team ever assembled:
(Simpkins, Haley, Caffey - not on playoff roster)
Let's not match these team up against each other (the Bulls destroy them with Pip on LBJ, Rodman on Bosh and Jordan on Wade) but let's just think about the potential of the roster on paper. The Bulls seem a lot more segmented - each player has his specific role and was excellent at what he did. The Heat are more fluid - which could hypothetically help them fill some of their weaker areas (especially defensively and around the rim).
I think it's fair to say Jordan, Pippen and Rodman are better than LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Jordan is the greatest player to ever play the game and you can't really compare him (or his drive to win) with anyone, especially Wade. Statistically, Pippen is almost identical to LeBron except for points (20p/8r/6a/2s/1b to 27/7/7/2/1). Rodman is the greatest rebounder of all time (and one of the games best defenders). He holds the top two best rebounding seasons ever (over 18/game) and averaged 15 on this 96 Bulls team. Bosh averages 20/10 and we can assume his points will drop on this team while sharing the rock with LBJ and Wade. Rodman was also a much better defender than Bosh, by a lot.
So lets compare the other 2 starters: Kukoc and Longley/Harper to Mike Miller and Chalmers/Ilgauskas. Kukoc is much better than Mike Miller both statistically and in career arc (more reliable, more dynamic and more wins) but it's pretty close. Ilgauskas and Longley are equal (Longley was better defensively and Ilgauskas is better on offense). Ron Harper was sneaky good and certainly more proven than Chalmers at this point.
The remaining guys are mostly a wash - the Bulls had Kerr and Wennington and the Heat have Haslem and a steaming pile of shit.
As a basketball fan, I'm excited to watch the Heat this season. I think they'll lose the Lakers (if they get to the Finals) but they'll be a hell of a show. Even if they do manage to win, barring a Rondo-like surprise season from Chalmers, they won't go down as the best team ever.
Even if they win 6...