The view from the top.
Vision Statement: Who are we, and how will we achieve success?
In all team structures, the leadership sets the tone for the crew. A strong focused leadership with an intese, vivid vision of how success will be achieved is crucial to the framework for success. In other words; a team identity. Each action should be in pursuit of that identity. Once the vision statment is accomplished, the only real hurdle for management is consistency. Change for the sake of change admits to failed leadership. Give the decisions tome to bear fruit before you evaluate the harvest. In other words, be patient when needed but switft to action when needed as well. Knowing when to do either is wisdom.
My vision for the PTB: We are a balanced TEAM that prides itself on a balanced, efficient offensive execution and intese team defense that can parley each opponent mistake into a quick-strike counter attack or another highly efficient posession. With a proven system and intelligent players, we will bring a consistently high effort level with each minute of playing time, knowing that our teammates will be doing the same.
The Coach: Strategist
The head coach should know how to delegate functions so his time is spent managing and not supervising the players. This is an important and often overlooked function in many head-coaching candidates. So many head coaches have come up the ranks of assistants that their core knowledge is that of hands-on teacher. That's not what a HEAD coach is. A Head coach is the person that asseses the strengths and weaknesses of his players and adapts his basic system to maximize the effectiveness of the strengths and minimize the consequences of the weaknesses, without deviating from the core structure of that system. The players may come and go, but the core of the team philosophy shouldn't ever change. See the Vision Statement, or Jerry Sloan.
Assistant coaches: Unsung heroes
These are the people that will execute the philosophy of the head coach. It is their job to instil not only the basic principals but also the various nuances of that philosophy with the players through all the levels of learning until they understand it on an instinctual level.
Each assistant should have a core competance that he/she excels in. Be it defense, offense, guard play, big men, each assistant should bring at least one superior, unique skill set to the table. It is up to the Head Coach and management to decide which skill combinations are needed to tap the maximum of player potential.
Players: The Alpha
There must be an Alpha Dog in every pack; a player who epitomizes the vision of your team with the strength of personality to bend others to his will. Idealy this player is also your best player, but that is not required if there is sufficient strength of personality and leadership ability (for simplicity, I will assume that the Alpha is the best player on the team). This is perhaps the most crucial decision to be made because all on-court results will hinge on this choice. The possible results are greatness, pretty good, mediocrity, not terrible, and total cancer. The good news is that it should be apparent rather quickly if the correct choice was made. Put the group under a bit of pressure and see what happens. The bad news is that Alpha Dogs are a rare breed and even more limited by the system they would need to fit inside. If the goal is championships, greatness in leadership is required here. It wouldn't hurt to have superstar talent either.
Players: The Lieutenant
The need for a secondary leader is immensely important. Just as it was critical the find an Alpha or Captain, so to is it critical the find a Lieutenant. This player is the counter-point to the Alpha on the court and in the locker-room. There is more room for fit in this position, as with all positions down the line, but the core factor is chemistry with the Alpha. They should be two sides to the same coin. If one is a post player, the other should be a wing. If one excels at scoring, the other should excel at rebounding. This is not a side-kick position. It is a complimentary position that allows both players to play off the other's strengths.
Players: Universal Soldier
This is a jack of all trades player that has the ability to fit his game into the needs of the moment, taking advantage of any mismatches caused by the opponent's focus on the Alpha. This position requires a supremely high bball IQ and intense understanding of the head coach's philosophy. Does not necessarily posess the elite Alpha skills, but has the confidence to know when to strike at a weakness and make them pay. Must be a defensive specialist, and consistently be a positive factor while on the floor. High motor is a requirement. Can be subed out for a specialist player as the game unfolds and the tactical situation changes.
Players: Squad leader
Point Guard. This could be your Alpha, but not the Lieutenant or Universal Soldier. They have other roles to perform. The PG is responsible for directing the tactical evolution while processing information from his eyes, teammates, and coaches. Being able to process multiple channels of information simultaneously and being able to accurately interpret the data and act on it is crucial. In addition to information processing, the PG must have a strong grasp of his teammate's tendencies and preferences. Where do they like to shoot from? Where do they like the ball when it's passed to them? These are but two of the dozens of things the PG must know about every player on his team.
The PG must be a vocal director, not necessarily leader, on the floor. He must be able to call a player to task (with tact) for performance issues in all situations, even the Alpha. Whether it's a misread play, lack of aggression, or one of a hundred other nuances the PG is responsible for the execution on the floor and he must have the strength of character to demand perfection of everyone.
Specialist Players: Rebounder
Often refered to as garbage men, they get their points cleaning the glass. Posession of the ball allows you to dictate the game, and this player has only one focus: getting the ball. This function can be coached to some degree, but in most cases it's an instinctual nose for the ball that a player has or doesn't. Ideally a competent free throw shooter (70%+) as the amount of physical contact absorbed could lead to the charity stripe. Must have the ability to enter a game cold and provide immediate impact. Ideal for slow paced, posession oriented teams. Generates additional posessions (offensive rebounds), and limits opponent posesisons (defensive rebounds). Offensive skill is not a requirement, so the pool of talent is deep and the cost to acquire low. Can displace an offensive threat for a non-factor, depending on the substitution, which allows the defense to adjust accordingly against the Alpha and Lieutenant.
Specialist Player: 3-Point Shooter (Sniper)
The Sniper is brought in to spread a defense that is focusing on clogging the paint. Without an open paint, the low-post game and Slashers don't have sufficient space to work and get off a high percentage shot. This player must have consistent command of the full 3 point arc, with supreme ability to catch and shoot quickly. He must posess at least a rudimentary dribble drive and passing ability for when the defense closes out on him. Must have the offensive understanding to recognize a good shot and his limitations in making it. High confidence/Low conscience ratio. So long as he's evaluating his shot selection properly, he should continue to shoot even if he misses. It's the duty of the head coach and GM to know if the player has the consistency required to play the role.
Specialist Player: Slasher
Typically a wing player, the Slasher is a high energy bench player that comes in to facilitate offense by forcing the defense to move to cover. Often requiring multiple cuts and screens to get open, the need for superior athleticism is reduced or negated. Requires a high level of precision on rout running, body and feet placement, as well as a quick shot release. An ideal running mate for a backup point guard that is learning how and when to use the intricacies of the offense. Requires one or more players with strong pick-setting abilities to fully utilize his strengths.
Although this is all just a ramble of what's been buzzing around in my head for some time, I believe there are some grains of truth that could be utilized by the team.
1. Have a better vision of team identity. Difficult with the Roy and Oden injuries and a current lack of a GM.
2. Define the player roles better. Another difficulty given the injuries again. Same answer: big bucks. Make it happen, coach.
3. Consistency of philosophy. Are we a jump shooting team? Half court? Fast-break? Slow-break? Regardless of the players on the floor, the consistency of philosophy should not be changing so much from game to game. Playing the match-up game might get you a few more wins, but it's the loser's approach of inconsistency. Make the other team adapt, and you play to your strengths, getting better each time they try and stop you. This is a correctable flaw that would pay championship-level dividends.
4. Better specialists. We've got guys that are versatile, but we need a few that are dogged at one thing and live for the moment when they can do it.
5. Bball IQ & Veteran savy. The draft is fun because there is so much potential there, but potential seldom wins games. Experience does. Don't pay for over the hill types, but don't pinch pennies for a quality player in an area of need either.
Thanks for making it to the end. We now return you to your regularly scheduled draft talk.