Two brief comments on the NBA Draft

two cents

Cliché sports talk

Here at the Wages of Wins, we try to offer draft analysis that is supported by evidence (wherever this is possible). But this comment, from CBS Sports’ Matt Moore, is an example of less-than-smart draft analysis:

Wizards select: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

He’s a leader. He’s going to be able to attack for them. This Wizards team is really headed in the right direction.

How does Matt Moore know that Porter is a leader? And how much leadership can a rookie provide an NBA team? And what is the actual impact of “leadership” on wins?

As I recall, Thomas Robinson was called a “winner” during last year’s draft. But by next season, Robinson will be trying to win with his third NBA team (the Houston Rockets reportedly traded Robinson to the Portland Trailblazers). Apparently he isn’t much of a “winner”.

Undoubtedly, Matt Moore wasn’t the only person offering draft night clichés such as this, but that doesn’t make it any less vapid.

Forcing the coaches’ hand

This draft story tells us much about the NBA. Here is the quote of interest:

The Memphis Grizzlies agreed to trade forward Darrell Arthur and the 55th pick (forward Joffrey Lauvergne of France) to the Nuggets for center Kosta Koufos, sources told

The Grizzlies, sources said, made the move to create playing time for young big man Ed Davis, who was acquired by Memphis as part of the Rudy Gay trade in January and who got little attention from ousted coach Lionel Hollins.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, have been expected to move Koufos since the ouster of reigning NBA Coach of the Year George Karl, who rankled his bosses by starting Koufos ahead of the mercurial JaVale McGee after the Nuggets had signed McGee to a contract worth in excess of $40 million.

In both cases, teams traded players that former coaches preferred. Why not keep the players? Because the front office players — who want to see their preferred players on the court — can’t be sure that a new coach won’t make the same decision. So players are traded to make sure the new coach can’t make the same decision.

One might think that coaches have to listen to the front office, but that is simply not the way sports appears to work. Coaches have a great deal of autonomy; you can fire them, but they tend to land a new job elsewhere. So what can a front office do to get the coach to make different decisions? It seems that the only thing a GM can do is make the appropriate roster changes.


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