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The importance of internal development

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  • The importance of internal development

    Obviously, we all know the importance of internal development to every team, including the Raptors.

    There's a reason that rookies usually don't have a tremendous impact, there are a lot of skills that they still have to learn.

    I read a paragraph in an article from Grantland that I found very intriguing:

    "Player development" is crucial to NBA success. Progressive franchises nurture young players, systematically engineering improvement in their games; bad franchises do not. Theoretically, there are 30 talent incubators around the league, but the truth is far from that. The Spurs grabbed Danny Green from Cleveland's scrap heap and turned him into one of the best spot-up shooters on the planet. Meanwhile, perennially bad teams sit back and watch as lottery pick after lottery pick simply doesn't "pan out."

    When most NBA fans think of Serge Ibaka, they think about a freakishly athletic shot-blocking defender. That description might be accurate, but it is also incomplete. He's also one of the league's most quickly improving players, incorrectly typecast and largely misunderstood. Ibaka has led the league in blocked shots each of the last two seasons, but only the biggest nerds are also aware of the following: During the 2012-13 season, 59 NBA players attempted at least 300 midrange shots. None made a higher percentage than Serge Ibaka.
    Clearly, there is something to be said about the quality of training provided by different organizations.

    I would agree that, for example, the Spurs are able to turn dedicated players into something that they couldn't become elsewhere. Beasley's resurgence this year is another example of that. And while there is something to be said about having veterans/stars on a team to set the right tone, a quality training staff is just as important.

    I think some of MU's biggest moves came when he cleaned house early in the summer. The signing of quality training staff may be one of the most important moves in the NBA, and there's no cap on that side of the business.

    I question whether Paul George or Kawhi Leonard would have become anything special if they'd been drafted by the Knicks or the Cavaliers.

    I guess my point is that, with a quality in house staff and good role models on the team, the draft starts to look a lot deeper.
    Heh, if he is in the D-league still in a few years I will be surprised.
    He's terrible."

    -Superjudge, 7/23

    Hope you're wrong.

  • #2
    There is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg issue that's impossible to sort out:

    Is Ibaka developing pretty well (still not as well as OKC would like post-Harden - especially apparent with Westbrook out) because OKC is well-managed, or because Ibaka always had the growth potential, mentally and physically, to develop beyond the raw player he was when drafted? It's impossible to separate the two.

    Also, successful role players on contenders are much more visible than successful role players on lottery teams. That's a part of it.

    Well-managed teams have more of a plan when grooming their own role players because they know their identity, the needs they've got to fill around their stars, and they're usually limited by the high salaries of core players, so they really don't have many options for filling out the roster. They have to groom mid- to late- 1st rounders and 2nd rounders out of necessity.

    All that said, I have a lot more hope in current Raps' management and MLSE leadership/ownership than in the past. There's a lot more competency at the top than there has been in a long time.
    "We're playing in a building." -- Kawhi Leonard


    • #3
      I think there's something to be said for that. Even though it obvious, it struck me as odd, when I heard it on the radio this morning, that our recent long run of good games have come with two sophomores in the starting lineup. Our kind of star (DD) is still a kid. The other two veterans in the group are pretty young too. As much as I see this recent success with a healthy dose of cynicism, that has to speak to something that we are playing the kids and winning at the same time.


      • #4
        I actually think the best way to develop talent is with talent. San Antonio has a great system because they have great players and young guys that come into that system learn the right way. Would Duncan be as good as he is if he didn't have Robinson there already?

        Even though Gay was a black hole and needed to be traded he is still a talented player, and I think his presence made DD a much better player. Danny Granger I'm sure has helped Paul George with his development as well.

        This is why I also think a lot of the guys drafted in the top 8 in the 2014 draft will look bad in a year or two.. that's when the Raptors should swoop in and get them while their value is low.


        • #5
          No argument with the central thesis...but where is the stealth reporting providing the secret processes being used by the Spurs and like

          I would also point to the Beasley/Heat case...this of course is his second go around with the team and Riley was in charge then as now...does that mean they changed systems? I think the overall immaturity of the new entrants to the league both in age and basketball iq/skills has plenty to do with the problem. This as well as the lesser teams because of overall low talent level are "forced" to play the new drafted hotshot. Beasley, now about 4 yrs into his NBA existence seems to have finally got it. Of course being on the Heat rather than the Bucks certainly helps.


          • #6
            I know it's cliche, but team culture really matters. It starts with management and coaching - they have to be on the same page. I remember watching Open Gym episode 1, Masai had a heart-felt speech on "we are a family (like a closed fist) & if anyone is not down with that, I'll show you the door".

            That's what the team has laid out from day one. They will work hard and play as a team. Rudy Gay wasn't down with playing as a team, Masai showed him the door.

            I know DC has been criticized alot (deservingly so), but one thing you have to admire is the fact that he has not lost his team from Day 1. He gets his team to work hard & NOW, buy into the team concept.

            If you preach the same language & have players whose characters allow for them to live by those said principles, it carries down to the 15th man.

            If you look at the most successful organizations, their star players do not believe they are bigger than the team. LeBron James will never challenge Pat Riley's management, Paul George will not step on Larry Bird & Duncan to Pop. That's culture exemplified.

            What I like about our new management team is with Ujiri and Lieweke, we have credibility that players will not want to step over that line. Ujiri has traded our 2 biggest contracts, supposedly our 'stars' simply because they can't or won't buy in to the team culture. What message does that send to the players?

            Maybe I'm being overly optimistic but I really think we are on our way up for a sustained period because of our management team -- all new scouts, coaches, etc. -- all buying into Ujiri's message of work hard & work as a team.
            “I don’t create controversies. They’re there long before I open my mouth. I just bring them to your attention.”

            -- Charles Barkley


            • #7
              stooley wrote: View Post
              I would agree that, for example, the Spurs are able to turn dedicated players into something that they couldn't become elsewhere.
              While I agree that the Spurs have a streak of getting valuable contributions from cast offs, the above statement implies that the Spurs get players to do things they couldn't do on other teams. For what I've read about the Spurs it almost the opposite. Role players for the Spurs do well because the organisation focuses on what they can do/are good at and doesn't ask them to add to their game. So although it looks like they are developing their players, to some extent might just be better utilization.

              All that said, it IS impossible to separate utilization/development/natural progression
              "They're going to have to rename the whole conference after us: Toronto Raptors 2014-2015 Northern Conference Champions" ~ ezzbee Dec. 2014

              "I guess I got a little carried away there" ~ ezzbee Apr. 2015

              "We only have one rule on this team. What is that rule? E.L.E. That's right's, E.L.E, and what does E.L.E. stand for? EVERYBODY LOVE EVERYBODY. Right there up on the wall, because this isn't just a basketball team, this is a lifestyle. ~ Jackie Moon


              • #8
                This is a theme similar to what I have posted about at different times. There is no limit to how much a team can spend on management expenses. For the salary of one Rudy Gay, each player could have his own personal coach making over $1 million/year. (not advocating that, just pointing it out).

                Money doesn't always buy success, but doubling your spend on scouting by hiring the best in the business should have some impact. As pointed out above, part of the Spurs success isn't just that they develop players, but that they also analyse opposing players strengths and then look for ways in which they are not being used optimally. When those players get to the Spurs, they are given roles they are suited for.

                I don't know what kind of development the young Raps players are getting, but we have seen DeMar improve his game, and Amir improve his jumper. Is that them doing that on their own, or is that happening under the guidance of Raps staff?

                Obviously Ales McKechnie has had an impact in terms of strength and injury prevention. JV's game is being hurt badly now by not having a mid-range jumper. Lately it seems every big he plays against has been pulling out that 18 footer and schooling him with it. Tross needs to develop handles and a mid range shot. Patterson seems to be showing a game he didn't have in Sacramento. It is plain that players have aspects to there games that are either under-developed or simply missing.

                Having said that, it is hard to do anything about it in the middle of the season what with the travel, game prep etc.