The largest NBA markets by city are: 1. New York, 2. Los Angeles, 3. Chicago, 4. Philadelphia, 5. Dallas, 6. SF/OAK, 7. Boston, 8. Atlanta, 9. Washington DC, 10. Houston, 11. Detroit, 12. Phoenix (COMBINED 54 NBA TITLES; 34 of them from Boston/LA)
The smallest NBA markets by city are: 1. Memphis, 2. New Orleans, 3. San Antonio, 4. Salt Lake City, 5. Milwaukee, 6. Charlotte, 7. Indianapolis, 8. Portland, 9. Orlando, 10. Sacramento, 11. Denver, 12. Miami, 13. Cleveland, 14. Phoenix, 15. Minneapolis. (COMBINED 7 NBA TITLES)
Top 10 Current Players right now (in no order, S= small market, L= large market): (S) Lebron James, (L) Kobe Bryant, (S)Dwayne Wade, (S) Kevin Durant, (S) Dwight Howard, (L) Derrick Rose, (L) Chris Paul, (L) Dirk Nowitski, (L) Carmelo Anthony, (L) Deron Williams.
Small market owners vs. Big market owners, how much did we hear about this war during the NBA lockout this past year? I decided to look a bit further into this, and explore NBA superstar placement/parody. This breakdown could be done for any sports, but superstar placement is CRUCIAL in basketball, where 1 superstar can have such an impact on a game/team. You really cannot win in the NBA without a superstar or 2 (or 3). So it begs the question, how do superstars get placed? The NBA draft gets 1/10th of the attention of the NFL draft, and most of the time your 2nd round pick is fighting for a job, but the draft is very key. My statement is this: THE NBA DRAFT IS THE ONLY ROOT OF SUPERSTAR PRODUCT PLACEMENT OUTSIDE OF BIG MARKET TEAMS.
(L) As you see above, the big market teams historically have been much more successful over time, who doesnt want to play in a big city/big market? Just recently, Carmelo Anthony has left a small market team to go to a big, as has Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and possibly in the future Dwight Howard (who has made it clear he wants to be in a big market city for his personal reasons). This needs no breakdown. The big markets a lot of the times are not your teams with your early picks as they tend to be a bit more successful, but when free agency time comes, that is where these teams get better. This is why the Lakers have stayed consistent for so many years, and of their 3 best players 2 of them came through the draft, 1 of them in 1996 (Kobe), one in 2005 (Bynum). This is an example, vs. a team like the San Antonio (small market) who have drafted all of their contributors over the past 15 years. Why? Because it's not an attractive place to play, this will never change.
(S) The key to small market teams, who may not be as consistent, is to draft well, and win quickly. The draft can help you in a number of ways: 1) you obviously get players who have no choice but to come to your team regardless of the city size, 2) those players you draft may attract other players. These are the only 2 ways teams stay competitive, example 1 above is the OKC Thunder, example 2 above is the Miami Heat. The backfire of being a small market team is getting your future piece in the draft, and having him leave once free agency comes (big market time) before you can surround him/win with him (Lebron/CP3). The only way to have a small market team stay competitive consistently is to have your high draft pick you took that had no choice but to come to your small city lure superstars just to play with them from other teams (Miami), or to have a nucleus of draft picks that have no desire to go to a big city which is EXTREMELY RARE (San Antonio Duncan years). *Miami is a small market team with big market attraction, so I almost exclude them at times from this side of the scale. What OKC has going right now is similar to what the Shaq-Penny Orlando Magic had, you keep hitting on the draft making superstar picks, and while those guys are under contract you win quickly, which is asking a lot of a young team. Basically, the Thunder have to win NOW, chances are as history as shown that Westbrook will not be there long, maybe not even Durant. Los Angeles may be an attractive destination for Westbrook in the future, maybe Houston for Durant, who knows. Basically, the draft pick is your everything....it's your present, your future, and your bargaining chip for free agents, and probably the only way you get a baller in your city.
The moral here is the NBA owners were correct, it is tough for small market NBA teams to compete, but OKC is showing it CAN be done! At the end of the day, as long as free agency is around, this battle will always be there, players can choose where they want to go. But it is in the GM's hands to a certain degree for big and small market teams, make great decisions, you get great results. There is no denying that the path to success is very different.