There’s no correct way to build a championship-level roster in the NBA. This year’s Finals matchup is proof of that, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors have taken two very different approaches to constructing their teams.
The Warriors built their core through the draft, taking Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green over the course of four drafts. The rest of their rotation was brought in mostly through free agency. Andre Igoudala was the first big addition in 2013. Then in 2016, Kevin Durant signed on the dotted line. KD’s move to the Bay Area attracted several other key free agents, including David West and Zaza Pachulia.
The Cavaliers’ Big 3 was put together using the draft, free agency and a trade. Irving was the first to join the roster, going first overall to Cleveland in the 2011 NBA draft. LeBron joined three years later via free agency before the Cavs front office swung a trade for Kevin Love.
Thompson is the only player on the roster other than Irving who was drafted by the Cavaliers. The rest of the team was brought in via free agency and trades. Trades have been huge for Cleveland. They have netted the Cavs J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Kyle Korver.
The one thing the two teams have in common? About half of the players on both the Cavs and Warriors rosters have been brought in since the start of 2016.