NBA stars who need help to win

Carmelo, Kobe among five top players who would benefit from secondary role

Updated: September 18, 2013, 1:03 PM ET
By Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider

AnthonyNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesThere's no doubting Anthony's talent, but it's clear he can take his team only so far as the main cog.

Basketball, particularly at the professional level, is often referred to as a "star's game." The effect a superstar can have on the outcome of a game or playoff series is much greater in the NBA than it is in any other sport.

That said, the NBA game also requires a pecking order. Without clearly defined roles that are accepted by the players, a team's ultimate ceiling for success is considerably lowered.

Basketball involves the marriage of improvisation and structure, the pursuit of individual goals within the team objective. The great players can manage their respective excellence to drive the team toward its objectives, harnessing their individual brilliance and channeling it to power glory for the collective. Sometimes, however, a player's gifts are not enough to achieve anything other than their personal goals, resulting in stunted team achievement. There's a term for this type of player: "Good Enough to Get You Beat." In other words, the player's skill level will bring only a certain amount of team success, and anything above and beyond that comes about only if the player accepts a lesser role.

These players are almost always incredibly talented and skilled, necessitating a premium salary that reflects the rarity of their skill set. Unfortunately, this premium unintentionally brings with it the expectation of franchise player status, like a neon sign saying "build your team around me!" The truth is that these players would benefit from taking a secondary role, but that can occur only if (a) you pair them with a clearly, unequivocally better player, or (b) they accept it.

Here are the top five "Good Enough to Get You Beat" players in the NBA:


Carmelo Anthony | New York Knicks

Anthony has never made a dime less than the maximum and will probably have collected almost $200 million in career earnings by the time he retires. With all due respect to Kevin Durant, Anthony is probably the most complete scorer in the league. He can score in any manner, from anywhere on the court. He's a six-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist.