THE LAST TWO CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTERS WITH ZERO FINALS APPEARANCES – ’15 Warriors and ’91 Bulls

THE LAST TWO CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTERS WITH ZERO FINALS APPEARANCES – ’15 Warriors and ’91 Bulls

When the NBA Finals arrive, experience is as relevant as talent. The ones who have the experience of playing on the biggest basketball stage in the world where it isn’t just about the skill of the game have a significant advantage. It’s about dealing with the pressure of having global eyes upon you.

Like everything you do in life, when you have someone who has gone through the experience, it’s easier for everyone involved. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the outcome will be a positive one for you. But having someone on your side who’s been through it, eases the whole process.

It’s almost unprecedented for NBA champions to have consisted solely of rookie Finals participants. It’s usually because championship roster constructions are often similar; you have your superstars, young roster fillers, and established veteran role players. Most often than not, the chances are that one of them has seen the NBA’s brightest lights.

You’ll rarely see mostly organically built teams without the Finals experience lift the NBA trophy. The last time that happened was with the ’15 Golden State Warriors. Before that? The ’91 Bulls.

The core of the ’91 Bulls has been the same for years. The same group had to go through the growing pains before eventually reaching the final stage. And finally, after losing to the Bad Boy Pistons for three years in a row, the Bulls were able to get over the hump. It was frustrating, but their front office stuck to the same nucleus of the team. MJ, Pip, and the crew showed enough to be given another chance year after year. And as we know, they more than delivered.

The same goes for the Dubs. Team centered around the Splash Brothers and the future DPOY Draymond Green has seen a fair share of playoffs eliminations before climbing the highest of the mountains. After getting bounced by the Clippers in the first round of the 2014 Playoffs, the Warriors were given another chance to retaliate. Bob Myers didn’t panic, something a lot of GM’s would do. 

The Warriors and the Bulls approached their roster construction differently than most teams. All eggs were not put in a free-agency basket. Instead, they used a more patient, organic approach, building through the draft, adding small pieces to jell the group together. But the core of both teams was picked but their front office guys.

More importantly, they were given enough time to mature as a group. They weren’t pressured into a rushed move that would’ve potentially ruin the process. Instead, it happened naturally, with small tweaks here and there.

More traditional legalities were used, compared to today’s analytically driven templates. They gathered a group of talented individuals, developed a system that fit the group, had the right coach to orchestrate it all, and boom, they were raising a championship banner. It didn’t happen as instantly, but you do get my point.

It seems like building through the draft isn’t as common an approach nowadays. Teams are more eager to rush their success, and more often than not, it doesn’t end as they expect it. Maybe more of them should try the Bulls/Warriors approach. Their process is much more layered than it seems; you have to draft well, pick your coach wisely, and manage egos, but the result can be developing a dynasty. It sounds like a good route to embark on.