FanShot

Paine: Breaking The Cycle Of Mediocrity

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Dave Berri recently questioned the Portland Trail Blazers' trade of forward Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets, writing... --------------------------- But if you are close – like the Blazers were – your best bet is to find one or two more players that will get you into the promise land. Based on the data, giving away one of your most productive players for the hope of something better is simply not a very good strategy. --------------------------- Neil Paine writes on Basketball Prospectus and reaches a different conclusion after looking at some data. --------------------------- Of the twenty-six NBA champs since 1986, sixteen were led by a player the team acquired via the draft. Five more were led by players (Kobe, Magic, Dirk) not technically drafted by the team they won it all with, but nonetheless players who had never played for another team in their careers. Of those twenty-one teams, eight were led by No. 1 overall draft picks, ten by top-two picks, sixteen by top-three picks, and seventeen by top-five picks. These are the players you hope to get by tanking. To drive the point home further: Only four NBA champions in the last 26 years were led by players selected outside the top six picks in the draft. ... It's always possible to build a team in a different way -- look at the 2004 Pistons, for instance -- but that formula has produced just 13 finalists and five champions in the last 26 seasons, and five of those (four from Shaq, one from LeBron) were the result of a player being lured by an attractive free-agent destination. Moreover, only five of the last 52 finalists were in the treadmill zone (37-45 wins) before acquiring their best player. It seems clear from the data, then, that it is in fact necessary to be bad (winning 27 or fewer games) to acquire a player capable of leading your team to the finals someday. --------------------------- -- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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