We relate to the normal sized guy who can find a way to get it done in the NBA. We love Derrick Rose and crown him MVP in part because we marvel at what he can do at 6’3” as opposed to a Dwight Howard, who is a freak of nature at an athletic 6’11”. We don’t really relate to the guys 6’11” because we are not near that tall and nobody we know is 6’11”. Or taller. We all want the next Jordan, the next Rose, not the next Kareem.
But if you want to win, you need the trees, not the point guards.
Jonathon Tjarks lays it out in a great post at SB Nation.
Since the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol in 2008, they have gone 12-2 in playoff series, either winning the title or losing to the eventual champions. The only two teams that beat them (Boston in 2008, Dallas in 2011) were the only two teams that had the size, length and skill to match the Lakers front-line of Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum….
After making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2007, the Utah Jazz ran into the Lakers three straight seasons — losing 4-2 in 2008, 4-1 in 2009 and 4-0 in 2010. With a front-line that prominently featured the 6’9 Carlos Boozer and the 6’7 Paul Millsap, the Jazz never really had a chance. In 15 playoff games between the two teams, Boozer shot 45% from the field while Gasol shot 58%….
LeBron James is the NBA’s best player because of his ability to dominate the paint at 6’9 and 270 pounds, and for all the talk of his mental fragility, the blueprint for beating him has been the same for five years now: a mobile and athletic seven-footer who can cut off his usually overpowering drives at the rim. It was Tim Duncan in 2007, Kevin Garnett in 2008, Dwight Howard in 2009, Garnett again in 2010 and Tyson Chandler in 2011.
Size matters. The old coaching adage is “tall and good beats small and good.” You just can’t throw a big stiff out there, but if you have a Gasol or Nowitzki or Kevin Garnett you have an advantage over a team with a great point guard and no size in the middle.
Which is something Lakers fans may want to keep in mind when they start talking about trading Gasol or Bynum.