I believe history shows that a championship team is built through the draft as well as with shrewd trades, and good FA signings. I believe that 4TheLuvOfTheGame and AMD's recent post support this claim. Our own personal biases lead us to either support the idea of tanking for a high lottery pick, or fighting for every win possible, but in truth the evidence really does speak for itself.
Look at 4TheLuvOfTheGame's post, and show me a team in the last 30 years who won a championship without having at least 1 top lottery pick who THEY DRAFTED play a primary role. Never mind I'll spare you the time and tell you that the Laker's, Pistons, and Mavs are the only teams to do so, but rembember Kobe would have been a sure fire top 5 pick had he not been drafted at the begginning of the straight outta highschool era that KG really started the year prior, and Shaq was the #1 pick in '92. Billups and R Wallace were also top 5 draft picks as well. Dirk was #9, but he really started the decade long infactuation with European born players, and in any year since 2000 would have been assured of being a top 3 pick, and hell J. Kidd was a top draft pick in '94.
The overwhelming evidence sopports the fact that Franchise Players who are also franchise changing talents are usually acquired through the Draft. They just are. Shaquille O’neal and LeBron James are the exception of franchise level talent relocating through FA, and just for shits and giggles I will add Tmac to the list as well. He and James have or had a lot in common at the time of TMACs peak, talentwise. But Tmac never won anything, and Lebron has contended and not won a ring yet, but likely will at some point. TMAC and Shaq left their team for greener pastures of the spotlight in brighter cities as the #1 option on a team. Chris Paul was traded this season, but it took a combination of expiring contracts (Kaman), good/great young talent/prospects (Gordon, Amino), and a good projected draft pick (Minn).
Most teams aren’t willing to let the Duncan’s, Dirks, Kobe’s, Jordan’s, Bird’s, or Dreams get away. They usually do any and everything in their power to put the necessary players around them to really contend. No, not all franchise players win a title, (not when Magic gets 5, Bird gets 3, Thomas gets 2, Jordan gets 6, Dream gets 2, Duncan gets 4, and Shaq gets 4, and Kobe gets 5). That doesn’t leave much chances for the Mailmans, Barkleys, Ewings, Iversons, LeBron's, Nash’s, R. Miller’s, ect. to win much of anything now does it. However, each of those players and their teams had legitamate chances at a title for at least 3-5 years. And in the end that’s all you can ask for. Aside from the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Spurs, there aren’t very many franchises that have won 4 or more championships. Some franchises have never even won one title.
But ask yourselves this as Die Hard Rox fans. Of all the greatest Rockets of all time (Whose best years statistically came as a Rocket), how many were aquired outside of the draft (including draft day trades using draft picks)? Then ask yourself how were the central pieces of the lone championship rockets team assembled. Hakeem (drafted), Horry (Drafted), Cassell (Drafted), Maxwell (trade), Smith (trade), Thorpe (trade), Elie (FA), Herrerra (Draft) Later Drexler (trade), Chuck Brown (FA). A nice mix of all. However, the franchise piece was drafted, as well as two of the three players who put this team over the top (Horry, Cassell, and Elie). Otis Thorpe (aquired in 88-89'), Maxwell (aquired in 89-90') Smith (aquired in 90-91'), and Hererra (91-92) as Hakeem's supporting cast helped make the Rocket respectable again. In Horry's rookie season (92-93'), the Rockets became contenders and made it to the 2nd round overtime game 7 loss to the Supersonics. Then with the additions of Sam Cassell (a rookie) and Mario Elie (a professional journeyman up until that point) the following season, the Rockets became champions.