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The Gnomeological Team Building Methodology

We want underpants today, all day
Search for underpants, today
We won't stop until we have underpants
Yum yum yummy yum yay


Time to go to work, work all day
Search for underpants today
We won't stop until we have underpants
Yum yum yummy yum yay

Ever since Brandon Roy went down, many people have attempted to explain all of the reasons why the Blazers will not and cannot compete without a star who is better than LaMarcus Aldridge. The logical conclusion of all of these lines of thinking is usually that the Blazers should trade Aldridge for the most young, unproven assets that they can acquire. More recently, many of these same folks have raised questions about whether or not Lillard can be the #1 option, transcendental SuperDuperStar that the Blazers need; typically, the center of gravity about which these questions rotate is a fear that Lillard will not progress, being an old rookie, and will end up being a tall Damon Stoudemire or a less efficient Chauncey Billups without the defensive abilities. Lillard by himself, or with support from the likes of Nicolas Batum and Aldridge, will not win us a title; ergo, the Blazers should try to tank in 2013-14 in the hopes of winning the lottery and drafting Andrew Wiggins so that Lillard can be relegated to his appropriate status as a complimentary, less-than-Super Star.

In order for these practical recommendations to be appropriate, the concerns which they are intended to address must also be valid. And in order for these concerns to be valid, then the principle, the philosphy, if you will, of team building that motivates and informs these concerns must also be valid. That basic philosophy essentially boils down to one central premise from which most team-building recommendations flow: namely, teams that are able to "compete" in the NBA, by any meaningful definition of the word "compete," must be "built" around one or more transcendental players.

The alternative to this basic methodology of team building is a model which has been most prominently advocated in BlazerNation by General Manager Neil Olshey and SuperBlogger David Deckard. This model instead views the team's prospects for success as an aggegated accretion of what I call "talent-assets," which I don't actually have a definition for because I didn't really think very hard about this post. As a team building philosophy,this model is defined by what is known as "asset-acquisition," a complicated process based on the theories of chaos and complexity in the physical and organizational sciences, wherein a series of roster actions act, react, and interact in a series of chain-reactions and feedback loops such that the end state of the team represents a state of greater talent-asset value than the original state had; this process is referred to by the technical term "rosterbation."

Former Blazer's Edge commenter Hail Oden! encapsulated this model in a comment signature ("sig") that presented a business model first identified by a group of business experts and entrpreneurs known as the "the Underpants Gnomes," and implied that the model could be applied to team building somehow. Hopefully, I will be able to add an appendix to this post that includes a graphical representation of the Gnomes' original model as soon as Vox Media is done breaking the internet.

This post explains and builds upon Hail Oden! and the Gnomes' work in Gnomeological asset acquisition by explaining the causal connections and applications of the Gnomes' tripartite model as it applies to rosterbation in a real-world, basketball team management setting. This proposed theory is presented along with the original Gnomeological model as follows:

Phase 1: Collect underpants. Basketball players are "talent-assets" which form the basketball analog to underpants as business assets. The key here is to just acquire them. It does not matter if they are Hane's briefs (better known as "tighty-whiteys") or fancy Ralph Lauren boxer shorts, nor does it matter whether the underpants are too big or too small, or if one already has several underpants that are quite similar. Fit, redundancy, and marginal utility are less important than the net value of the total underpants collection. Similarly, the choice to acquire a talent-asset should not be determined by fit or redundancy, but by whether the net value of the aggregated accretion of talent-value is increased.

Phase 2: ??? The question marks are an indicator of uncertainty. It is best to view this stage of team-building in light of the insights of chaos theory. The value of one's underpants collection moves from an original state to an end state through a process that is perfectly deterministic due to the effects of the complicated process of stealing underpants; however, due to the unknowability of all of the various possible outcomes of underpants theft, the end state is also perfectly unpredictable. Likewise, the process of rosterbation is so complex that it is determined by "inputs" which I will not take the time to identify because I'm getting tired of writing, but completely unpredictable due to the grande (yes, I put the "e" there on purpose) number of inputs. The abilities to adapt to various outcomes and to influence as many inputs as possible are therefore absolutely key.

Phase 3: Profit! If one has managed to respond to all of the various inputs appropriately and maximize the positive delta in talent-asset value (that is, the net increase in roster talent), one will find greater success than one would have found otherwise, and maximized one's chances of winning a title.

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