Wednesday , Sep , 03 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Are Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince and L.A.’s Lamar Odom the NBA’s best fourth stars?

Most successful teams still build around a star trio, though. Last year, Boston sipped champagne because of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce. San Antonio has won three NBA Titles behind Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Still, with the league becoming increasingly competitive, a new four-star model is starting to emerge …

Are Detroit's Tayshaun Prince and L.A.'s Lamar Odom the NBA's best fourth stars?Imitation is flattery. And nearly every NBA franchise has tried imitating the Chicago Bulls three-star model after Michael, Scottie, and Horace/Dennis spent the nineties winning more championship ice than Jacob the Jeweller.

Most successful teams still build around a star trio, though. Last year, Boston sipped champagne because of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce. San Antonio has won three NBA Titles behind Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.   

Still, with the league becoming increasingly competitive, a new four-star model is starting to emerge.

The reasons are simple. The NBA is a talent driven league. And teams with the most talent host June parades with the Lawrence O’Brien trophy. If trios become the norm, franchises would likely move towards four-stars to stay competitive.

Detroit, for example, used this system to win an NBA Title. Tayshaun Prince, their ‘fourth piece’, spent the summer with Redeem Team USA and is one of basketball’s best two-way players.

The lanky swing does most things well. On offense, he thrives as a complementary option, hitting open jumpers and scoring off broken plays. On defense, the Prince is very much a ‘King’. He can guard four positions and possesses the athleticism to challenge shots.

(Ten of Prince’s crunch-time blocks.)

Prince, however, suddenly faces competition from L.A.’s Lamar Odom. That’s right. Jadakiss’ former running mate is now a fourth star (click here and wait until three minutes of the youtube clip). 

After all, Kobe Bryant is the Lakers’ undisputed top dog. Pau Gasol is the new number two and Andrew Bynum, when he returns to health, is likely the third option. So Odom, one of the NBA’s most polarizing players, has fallen to fourth-banana status.

The Southpaw could thrive in a reduced role. Odom never enjoyed being the purple-and-gold’s second option on offense. As the fourth piece, he’ll still post double figures in points and rebounds, while maintaining the ability to facilitate for teammates.

Detroit and L.A. are providing alternatives to the trio system. If either wins the 2008-09 NBA Title,  imitation could once again become flattery and four-stars could become the championship standard.

Is the four-star model replacing the trio system? Who is the NBA’s best fourth star: Prince, Odom, or someone else? Get at us in the comment box below and return to HoopsVibe The Blog for more  NBA  tidbits. Photo courtesy of compujeramey.