The internets is a miraculous thing. Across the web, there's been some truly great analysis in response to yesterday's post. It's gots me doin some more thinkin.
"Carlos Delfino is a better example of a player who did his time in Detroit and now is flourishing in Toronto...The Raptors have more international content. On Detroit, he never got the minutes to play through mistakes, while in Toronto, with a big jump in minutes, he's become a quality rotation player with upside. Delfino is an introvert, and this initially caused Sam Mitchell to question his effort, but now Mitchell has admitted that he didn't understand Delfino - the passion is there, it just isn't expressed outwardly with grunts, scowls, shouts, fist pumps. I wonder if the Detroit staff understood Delfino as well as Mitchell has come to in a short period of time."
He has a great point. Dumars' recent record has certainly suggested that he has trouble developing Euros (although let's look back at the way-back machine in 2004 when Memo became the first Turkish player to win an NBA championship. Many fans underplay the success with the imported-Memo as a significant factor in Dumars' confidence in drafting Darko. And has Okur fared better in Utah?) Nonetheless, that should not discount the culture question. Phoenix and now Toronto have shown that they can develop non-American players by creating Euro-friendly systems.
Secondly, and I may be wrong, and I hope I am because I continue to be a big Delfino fan, but I'm not sure the Toronto honeymoon will last. Remember, Detroit didn't just give up on Delfino. In fact, they traded away Maurice Evans for a second round pick to the Lakers because they wanted to clear time for Carlos. He was a mess last year. Not understanding the system, out of control, and turnover prone. Compare that to how Jarvis Hayes is playing this year. I hope Carlos' successes continue in Canada, but I'm skeptical.
I would take Sebring's point further. We often talk about the Spurs creating a professional culture. But Adande nicely lays down an alternative example of creating a team culture in his column about Gstate today: "Warrior World: Crazy, Beautiful, and Dangerous Basketball."
The other major question that has been brought up on the blogosphere is how much we can expect NBA teams to develop players. Henry Abbott over at Truehoop writes,
[Player development is] also a rare skill. There are plenty of top level strategists and motivators who are not great teachers.
"I think when we watch the game we think of a player like Yi, and you can imagine you have all this time for skill development. Spending eight hours a day teaching him about the NBA game, but with the NBA schedule, you don't have that kind of time, right? No, not really. We generally get to spend some time before and after practice with a lot of our guys. Either with skill stuff on the floor or maybe sitting down, showing them some edits of some games."
Abbott goes right for the jugular here. And that is why he's one of the best. This is the key question! Do NBA teams invest enough time in player development? It's telling that the negative assessment comes from a Bucks' assistant coach. Would Pop ever make that statement? Phil? D'Antoni (is it non-pc if we gave him the Native American nickname: Man Who Stomps His Foot?)? Riles probably would make that statement because he's an a-hole. I assume Tony Brown is a perfectly nice guy, but what he is describing is the lack of investment in player development in the Bucks organization, not in the Lig.
Compare that to Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor's statements on today's Daily Dish. O'Connor talks to Chad Ford about the emergence of Ronnie Brewer as a legit NBAller. Was it the shoes? Well, O'Connor says,
Continuity is just as important, even more important than change...We look at guys who want to get better. And that's one of the things we evaluate when we sit down and talk to a player...Look at Deron Williams. Each year he got better...and he's continued to prove that...in the pros. Take a look at a kid like Millsap. Everyone looks at a player and says what he can't do. We try to look at a player and say what he can do...
I would give Ronnie [Brewer] a lot of credit. We expressed some of the things he needed to do improve his shooting. I think Jerry can say things to players very succinctly and very direct...He said to Ronnie, "When we played Denver, and you were in the game, and you had to be in the game for some minutes, they put Marcus Camby on you. Now, does that tell you anything. And give Ronnie a lot of credit. He went home and became a better shooter, if you look at his free throw %, it's way up to even where it was in college. And he spent the time getting stronger, getting physically more able to compete in the NBA...
One of the key phrases you hear over and over around the Lig that O'Connor repeats to Ford: "We try and put players in positions where they can succeed." The question is: what teams actually do this? Utah, yes. Waukee...?
Now, is this true for every player? Can every talented player be plugged into the right system and flourish? Of course not. This is where it gets difficult (but exactly where we find the type of unanswerable arguments that we relish as fans.)
You have to start with the superstar exception. Lebrand, he was gonna make himself a star wherever he went. Evidence: he's made himself a star under the Ferry regime. Likewise, Tom Ziller (great blogger check him out at the FanHouse and Sactown Royalty) writes,
LeBron and draftmates Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade -- every single one has had more than one coach in their NBA careers, and three of the four have had multiple front-office regimes. Only Wade could be considered to have a stable development environment through his first four years in the league, and he's been dealing with Pat Riley's yo-yo act the entire time....Player development outside the umbrella of the team works; I know this for I am a Kevin Martin fan. And I know Eric Musselman didn't teach Kevin Martin squat.
Totally agree. And Ziller goes on:
In last four years, there have been 73 NBA head coaches for the 30 teams. (This isn't counting temporary fill-ins like Brendan Malone; in-season replacements had to total 30 games at the helm to be counted.) Only four teams have gone the (short) span without a coaching change (Washington, San Antonio, Utah and... the Clippers). If there is a player development system for these non-S.A., non-Utah franchises, it's getting shaken up every other year on average. Add in the propensity to trade youngsters, and exactly one 2003 first-rounder has had one NBA coach his entire career (Chris Kaman).
Ziller. You had me at 73. But I'd challenge you on your conclusion: "Long-term development -- beyond getting Maxiell to drop some weight over a summer -- isn't possible on a team-by-team basis in the NBA. There's not enough consistency."
As much as I'd like to empathize with the Bucks' asst, how have other
teams succeeded where they have failed? You see, the coaching carousel is not an NBA-only issue. Bad player development
is not an NBA-only issue. Just try listening to SportsTalk radio
in Chicago since the Marlins-Tigers deal. Let's just say the windy
city ain't happy. The Sox farm system ranks 29th in the MLB. They're
talking about throwing $15mil at Aaron Rowan because they don't have
the young'uns to trade for talent. Their GM Kenny Williams has been
accused of overhyping his prospects and losing all cred in the baseball
Conclusion: Although it may be particularly tricky in the NBA, player development should be the counterweight to the coaching carousel. For every time a fan or an "expert" petitions for firing the coach or the GM, we need to also take a step back and place more value on consistency, stability, and the time to create the right culture.
Let's keep up the world-wide-convo! Love to hear some more thoughts.