The following is far from being a deep analysis and it is easy to be argued against. Still, even a bit of coincidence might serve as a background for a subsequent discussion that would be worthy... And it was fun to write it anyway.
I took a look at what the four conference finalists, or at least most of them have in common in terms of their rosters structure. And I found the following:
- Point-forward (Hedo, Lebron, Kobe/bits of Gasol, bits of Anthony)
- Defensive-minded athletic swingman (Pietrus, Lebron, Dahntay Jones, Ariza)
- Low-post threat (Howard, Gasol/Bynum/, bits of Nene/Martin. None in Cleveland)
- Pointguard who can shoot very well but otherwise is rather a role-player than a leader (Alston /at times, but normally it would be Nelson here/, Fisher, Williams. Billups is a leader as well)
- Long-range shooters (half of Orlando's roster, half of Cleveland's roster, Billups/Smith/Anthony/Kleiza, Fisher/Bryant/Vujacic)
- Slasher (Lee/Pietrus, James, Smith/Jones/Anthony, Ariza/Bryant/Odom)
- Defensive-minded big ma/en on the bench (Gortat, Andersen, Wallace/Smith, none in LA)
- Well-rebounding swingman (Hedo, James, Bryant, Anthony)
There were some issues that were characteristic only for the finalists:
- Combo-forward who can play beyond the arc but has the height and skills to play near the basket and even defend the rim - creating a huge mismatches for their opponents (Lewis, Odom)
- Offense based on the ball movement and (although selective at times) inclusion of all players - without a black hole on the offensive end.
Finally, what neither team has:
- Pointguard as the on-court/statistic leader of the team (Paul, Williams, Nash, Parker... all have been eliminated. Billups is the leader of Denver, however he is credited probably more for being a leader literally, than a go-to guy)
- Athletic pointguard (Jordan Farmar and Mo Williams are the closest kind)
- Exceptionally defensively capable pointguard (maybe except of Billups and Fisher's flopping)
- Swingman who is a bad defender playing in the starting-five (it's difficult to count Hedo as a swingman and his defense is not that bad. Delonte West might be the closest example)
It would be probably easy to argue against any of those points and it is seemingly even easier to argue against any consequences they might bring for an evaluation of the current Kings roster. Still, I will go point by point and try to compare them with the current Kings roster as well as the 2002 roster.
Kings09 - none
Kings02 - none, but with talented passer both among big men and guards, the role was evenly distributed between inside and outside players.
Kings09 - Garcia at best (?)
Kings02 - Doug Christie
Kings09 - JT, possibly Spencer
Kings02 - Vlade&C-Webb
Kings09 - Probably none. Beno is not a bad shooter, but far from very good, especially from beyond the arc
Kings02 - Mike Bibby fits exactly
Kings09 - Kevin Martin, possibly Garcia, Nocioni (Donté?)
Kings02 - Peja, but also Bibby, and even Hedo and Christie
Kings09 - Martin
Kings02 - Probably none, but again, in the Princeton offense, the movement without the ball was more important
Kings09 - none
Kings02 - Scott Pollard
Kings02 - Actually Peja had an avareage of 5.6 rebounds per game between 2000-2006 while Christie had an average over 4 in each of his seasons in Sacramento (and the career high of 15 rebounds)
Kings09 - TZ gave an analysis recently showing Martin as a good rebounder for the SG position and Cisco being a very bad rebounder for the SF position.
Kings09 - Nocioni as a poor example
Kings02 - Healthy Peja as a kind of...
Kings09 - not yet
Kings02 - definitely
Now, although these nine points might be really very selective and coincidental sample of what characterize the four most successful teams of this year, there is a resemblance between those and the roster of Sacramento from 2002 while many differences arise when compared to the current roster.
When taking look at final four points, three of them are interesting in terms of drafting a possible replacement for Beno for the PG position. Three issues that Rubio is criticized for lacking (being a scorer, athletic and on-ball defensively-excellent) are generally absent in the game of four starting pointguards I discuss. Williams is a scorer, but appears to be such rather as a sidekick and role-player than an actual leader on the floor. Billups is an exception and he is also a very good defender, but his athleticism (apart from strength) cannot match speedy pointguards such as Paul, Parker, Rose, Rondo... However, he is doing pretty well because of his experience and basketball-IQ nevertheless. Neither Alston/Nelson nor Fisher are particularly athletic, dominating or defensively-capable players in this league.
Of course, this is a point for Rubio as a counter-argument against those deterioring him on behalf of athletic superstars such as Brandon Jennings. Of course, it's just a selective point and just because Denver, Orlando, Cleveland and LA can do well without Jennings-type of player, it does not mean it would not help other top-tier teams (and recent examples of Parker or Rondo demonstrate this).
The fourth point is thus more about Kevin Martin who is usually characterized as a tremendous scorer and substandard defender (he would probably be the worst defending swingman among the four teams). Which leads to an issue of hope that after recovering from the ankle-injury and with more experiences this aspect of his game will improve yet even more.
I am lazy and having no time to back-up (or actually explore for by myself) any of these argument further but any ideas would be welcomed.