There is considerable debate about whether NBA championship teams should be created from draft picks or signing proven All-Stars. Ever since the Boston Celtics formed a "Big 3" to win a championship and Riley put together Miami Heat's own "Big 3," pundits have advocated "buying" championships, instead of growing them slowly over time.
The teams in the NBA Finals feature signature players who were draft picks: LeBron James, first pick in 2003, and Stephen Curry, who was the No. 7 pick in 2009. This year's Finals pit teams who are lead by homegrown talent in James and Kyrie Irving versus Curry and Klay Thompson.
But sometimes "sure" picks don't work out due to injuries or not liking the team who chose them: the draftee has no choice which team takes him, which calls into question the legality of the draft system. That rookie breaks out after he finds another home, like Hassan Whiteside did in Miami last season. He was drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings back in 2010, but never did fit in there.
Teams take their own chances with free agents they sign to expensive contracts, because money may be the player's ONLY reason for being on the team. They have all-star talent, but don't repeat their earlier success with their new team, for whatever reason.
Even with the risks, Pat Riley has enjoyed great success in putting together title contenders by through free agency and trades. Players such as James, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal were notable additions for his Miami Heat over the years. Last season factors beyond his control had the team barely missing a playoff spot.
During the summer Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra will chose which players can carry the team to the 2016 trophy. Are they going to be homegrown prospects Wade, the No. 10 draft pick, last year's first round pick Shabazz Napier? Or will they be hired guns such as Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Luol Deng, or a hybrid such as Whiteside?
Before that question is answered, Wade's status has to be resolved. What he does will answer these questions:
- Does Wade have enough in the tank for a fourth ring?
- Will Bosh totally recover to carry the team on his back as their max player?
- Will Dragic power the team by his drive and determination to the Finals?
- Can Whiteside continue his breakout performance to get his first ring?
- Does the No. 10 draft pick become the difference maker?
- Or will Riley have to add another piece to the puzzle?
With so many issues on the table, the best way to a ring remains unclear: homegrown or bought?