For the next few weeks, I plan on putting out a few shorter-burst philosophy pieces to talk about predicting what teams do as a means of informing how each should act. This piece, particular to 2020's draft and not a longstanding belief that is transferrable to multiple years. It surveys the current climate we're in and makes predictions as such.
The global COVID pandemic has challenged and changed the way this draft takes place. From delaying nearly five months to cancelling draft workouts, this has been anything but a typical cycle. To expect that, once draft night arrives, that cycle will cease to have an impact on who gets drafted where would be short-sighted. Next season, we may not have a G-League season, with travel being limited and budgets being slashed from the top of the league.
As a result, I would expect a long run on international or draft-and-stash prospects in the second round of the draft. There are many ways this manifests itself, but let's break it down here.
What Wins in Today's NBA?
Don't let the minutia distract you from the big picture.
Data has never been more readily available than it is today for NBA fans, teams, decision-makers and analysts. There's no shortage of minutia to bury yourself in. An abundance of data can be dangerous, as we seek to make sense of every data point, spin it to validate beliefs and toy with the metrics to innovate and set ourselves apart.
To some degree, basketball is unquantifiable and immeasurable. Players make impact in ways that aren't statistically relevant. The danger of our current analytics method is that, while we have data and measures for more facets of the game, we still don't have it for all facets. Those who find ways to impact the game in ways that can't be quantified, particularly on defense, are at more of a disadvantage than ever.
This isn't some diatribe on anti-analytics. To the contrary, I'm a huge supporter and user of data to inform coaching and front office decisions.
So long as it's the right data.
We can't get farther away from remembering what the big picture is here: to win. Win games, but more importantly win postseason series and win championships. As draft season comes up, it's vital to look at some of the common threads of successful teams in the modern NBA and why that should always be the ultimate framing for discussing what functional skills a draft prospect brings to the table.
Adam Spinella, Head Boys Basketball Coach, Boys' Latin School (MD)