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Depth is the biggest key for championships

By: Michael Chase

Great teams, no matter what sport all have one thing in common – they build for both the present and the future by providing their team with great depth.

Having organizational depth can mean a variance of different ideals for each organization but they all rotate back toward the basic idea that having player depth or depth within the upper-brass can ensure continued excellence for a franchise.

But there is no way certain way to build depth. Depending on the sports, there are plenty of different methods.

Rob Ninkovich is a perfect example of the depth the Patriots have. He was a mid-round draft pick in 2006, developed of several years and is now one of their best defensive players.

Rob Ninkovich is a perfect example of the depth the Patriots have. He was a mid-round draft pick in 2006, developed of several years and is now one of their best defensive players.

From a football perspective, it’s about having depth from a standpoint of drafting and preparing players well enough toward being ready to contribute at any point they are needed, whether it is because of lack of performance from a guy starting over them, injuries or what ever other reason there might be.

The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots display success in this area. They have built a successful football team each year by properly handling the drafting, scouting and developing their players so they fit and flourish in their systems. The Patriots may have been criticized for busted high-round draft picks like Patrick Chung, Ron Brace and Darius Butler, but they have certainly made up for it with later round picks like Jamie Collins, Rob Gronkowski and Rob Ninkovich. The Packers have been one of the envies of the NFL at how they are able to draft and develop rookies and young players to be able to contribute right away. Morgan Burnett, Marshall Newhouse, Eddie Lacy and Randall Cobb are some non-first round picks who are already key starters on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

The Baltimore Ravens are one of the best in terms of a football franchise with great organizational depth. Ozzie Newsome is widely regarded as one of the greatest General Manager in all of sports but his assistant and heir apparent Eric DeCosta has stuck around despite getting offers from nearly every team to take over. When Newsome eventually retires, DeCosta should seamlessly step in and continue a tradition of winning in Baltimore.

As for MLB and NHL teams, they build depth not just through good drafting, but for these two sports developing these young draft picks is key toward sustaining success long into the future. The minor league system no only sets up the team for the future but allow often allows them to make moves for the now. Top prospects are regularly involved in huge trades to get that proven player that a team hopes will put them over the edge to win a title.

Buster Posey, an MVP, and Madison Bumgarner, a World Series MVP, are two young, home grown players in place to lead the San Francisco Giants to a lot more success over the next decade.

Buster Posey, an MVP, and Madison Bumgarner, a World Series MVP, are two young, home grown players in place to lead the San Francisco Giants to a lot more success over the next decade.

The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants have shown why it is important to properly develop these players. Their plethora of home-grown talent have contributed to their success. The four of the five starting pitchers for the Cardinals were drafted by them. Four of their positional players were drafted by them as well and look to have secured the franchise with a young core to build on for years to come. The Giants have four young home-grown All-Stars, Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and Madison Bumgarner, leading their franchise. This is after they were led to three World Series Championships in five years by a completely different core group of homegrown players, like Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

The NHL has the AHL, among other developmental leagues. The Chicago Blackhawks have done a good job utilizing those leagues to develop the core group that has won three Stanley Cups in the past six years. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith and Bret Seabrook are perfect examples of that but they aren’t it either. Secondary and role players like Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Dustin Byuglien and Troy Brouwer show the team’s commitment to staking the team with talent at more than just their starters.

Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard are a perfect example of how the San Antonio Spurs build for the now and the future.

Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard are a perfect example of how the San Antonio Spurs build for the now and the future.

In the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs flourish because they acquire and build good depth withing their roster to succeed over the course of an 82-game season. With the core of their team being much over, they need a reliable bench so they can give those veterans enough time off so they are not worn down by the end of the year. The big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Many Ginobili continually give the team chances to win now, but the trio of free agent addition LaMarcus Aldridge, first round draft pick Kawhi Leonard and developed project free agent pickup Danny Green is a young core that will take over and still give the team a chance to succeed down the line. The Spurs great depth is proven by how often the team is incredible tough in games even when Duncan, Parker and Ginobili don’t even dress for a game.

The Golden State Warriors showed the overall importance of depth this year as they won their title. The Cleveland Cavaliers showed it as well without having depth. After Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were injured there weren’t even respectable starters outside of LeBron James. The Warriors were able to change their starting lineup midway through the Finals series and got better.

Depth is especially important for those three sports with incredibly long seasons that also have extended best-of series in the playoffs.

It’s because of the depth we view the Cardinals or Spurs or Blackhawks or Patriots and Packers are franchises with “A Championship Pedigree.”

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