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  • System Supplanting Superstar?

    During the off season of 2013, through the Gay trade and up until the Raps caught fire a couple weeks after the Lowry to NY trade was knixed, here at RR we debated the best path to a championship ad naseum. Caveat's were made, parallels were prependiculared, and examples were outliered, but overall, I think it's fair to say that most people concurred with two general statements:

    1) You need superstar talent to make and win the finals

    2) The most statistically likely way to get said superstar is through the draft.

    I myself believed that at least one of Derozan/Gay needed to be moved, and a full on tank was the best course of action. I was initially disappointed when word came through that Dolan had ended my tank for wiggins dream.

    This is not entirely surprising. Since at least the Jordan era, the dominant thinking in the NBA has been that talent wins championships, specifically, that you need a "big three" and/or transcendent superstar if you want to fulfill your dreams of hoisting the LO'B trophy in June. The impact of coaches was dubious, and papers were written drawing the conclusion that for the most part, they just didn't have an impact.

    That narrative may be changing. With the dismantling of the Heat in the 2014 finals by the Spurs and the success this year of the Hawks, (and perhaps to a lesser degree, the Warriors), are we witnessing a shift in what the "model" for success?

    Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland, recently wrote an article about the impact of coaching. Valuing coaches goes hand in hand with valuing the system. The part of his article I enjoyed the most was this:



    A: The open shooter.
    His answer is particularly poignant because he's responsible for all those wonderful shot charts that illustrate the proficiency of individual players.

    Now the answer to how do you win a championship was never black and white, even when statements are qualified with "most likely" or "historically". Ginobli and Parker were superstars, but would they have been the same superstars if they weren't drafted by the Spurs? The converse is also true, no matter how good a system is, 15 random posters from this forum do not a NBA championship team make. Talent will always matter.

    The extent that the narrative shifts from system over talent will probably come down to how far Atlanta goes in the playoffs. Atlanta has no true superstars, on either end of the floor. Even Detroit, the oft cited "no superstar champions" had defensive superstar Ben Wallace. If Hawks face and beat the Cavaliers in a playoff series, the system over talent debate would be pretty hard to refute. Cleveland has at least two, (Lebron and Kyrie) and possibly three (Love) players who are more talented than anyone on the Hawks. Conversely, if the Hawks get bounced in the first or second round it will probably reinforce the narrative, that while systems may overcome talent in the regular season, talent remains the difference maker in the second season.

    Regardless, of what happens with narratives we use to talk about basketball it is pretty evident we are seeing new things happen on the court. Goldsberry summarizes the shift at the end of his article:

    Regardless of where you land on the "talent" or "system" question, the debate itself is vitally important for the Raptors. Unlike the Thunder, Pelicans, Cavs, or Clippers, we don't have the ability to compete on raw talent. I think it's also pretty obvious we don't have a coach who is good at generating open shots, and based on opponent assists numbers (according to the PhD Steve's latest podcast) a defensive system that stops other teams from generating them.

    Winning championships is some combination of system and talent. Our success this (and last) season does not change the fact that we are two ingredients away on a two ingredient recipe.
    "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

  • #2
    I've read that article. It was very good. Personally, in today's NBA, coaches makes a huge difference; look at the turn around for Golden State. Whether the Hawks win or lose in the Poffs will not refute or confirm anything.
    Coaches MUST be able to utilize a wide variety of information to make adjustments and the best ones will be the ones who can read and react accordingly.
    Guys like Lionel Hollins are on their way out and Brad Stevens is on the way in; that is just evolution, you cannot stop it.

    Talent will always matter no matter what, It will make your system more effective (Spoelstra) or it will hide the flaws in your system (Spoelstra).

    You put the Hawks under another coach and they would probably drop a few spots in the east.
    I also heard some great stories about D. Blatt; apparently he had some amazing accomplishment with avg talents.
    Last edited by distorsun; Thu Mar 12, 2015, 10:44 AM.

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    • #3
      One thing I would call overrated is this so called "turnaround" of golden state. Steve kerr is obv a better coach than mark jackson, but this team was already really good last year, and they have a massive amount of internal development. From last year to this year curry and klay have taken another step, not to mention the career arc of draymond green and even speights. Add all that up and you have the team we see today.
      It's Klaw Season. Time to hunt.

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      • #4
        I agree, it sound a bit overrated, but the W/L don't necessary tell the whole story. I do agree with you the talent was always there.
        But if you look a bit closer...
        http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2...der-steve-kerr

        Kerr's impact is much deeper.

        There's another very good article I've read, but I cannot find it for now.


        KeonClark wrote: View Post
        One thing I would call overrated is this so called "turnaround" of golden state. Steve kerr is obv a better coach than mark jackson, but this team was already really good last year, and they have a massive amount of internal development. From last year to this year curry and klay have taken another step, not to mention the career arc of draymond green and even speights. Add all that up and you have the team we see today.

        Comment


        • #5
          ...And analytics. This is another recent phenomena (at least in it's sophistication and usage) which helps with the competitive disadvantage (talent)....until of course everyone is using it...and enforcing it's revelations.

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          • #6
            So far you still need superstar talent AND great coaching AND a system that's a great fit for your personnel. Remove the talent, the coach, or the system and you'll drop off - plenty of examples in recent years.

            The Heat had the talent and a great coach but it took them a year of tweaking to get their systems to a championship level. I think those Pistons teams lost their championship edge when they went from Larry Brown to Flip Saunders. The Lakers lost talent but were also worse in almost every way as soon as Phil left. Spo can have the same ideas about systems and be the same coach but may not even make the playoffs once the talent is gone. Gotta have all three.

            It is very interesting to see systems become more important and impactful recently. I think there's more innovation in coaching right now and a lot of it has to do with analytics. In the past the offensive and defensive sets were more established - coaches used the same playbooks, just had to pick the right ones for your guys. Now you have Thibs or Spo or Kerr or Pop either doing new things or at least continuing to evolve the game by taking the next step. There are other good coaches too, but the ones who also manage to win a lot of games get the pub.
            "We're playing in a building." -- Kawhi Leonard

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            • #7
              Houston will be another "example" of system vs superstar. There might not be another team as dependant on one player with Washington being the other.

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              • #8
                raptors999 wrote: View Post
                Houston will be another "example" of system vs superstar. There might not be another team as dependant on one player with Washington being the other.
                Cleveland is just as dependant on one player.
                It's Klaw Season. Time to hunt.

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                • #9
                  KeonClark wrote: View Post
                  Cleveland is just as dependant on one player.
                  But Cleveland uses LBJ as point forward. Houston either has Harden drive or kick with the kick not resulting in a great shot. Wiz kick and drive with Wall better shots but Wall isn't Harden

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                  • #10
                    raptors999 wrote: View Post
                    But Cleveland uses LBJ as point forward. Houston either has Harden drive or kick with the kick not resulting in a great shot. Wiz kick and drive with Wall better shots but Wall isn't Harden
                    Houston had an analytics-based approach before acquiring Harden, and still do as much as possible. It just turns out Harden is a more impactful talent than a platoon of role players shooting a ton of 3's.
                    "We're playing in a building." -- Kawhi Leonard

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      S.R. wrote: View Post
                      Houston had an analytics-based approach before acquiring Harden, and still do as much as possible. It just turns out Harden is a more impactful talent than a platoon of role players shooting a ton of 3's.
                      In the regular season. A platoon helps in the playoffs offload scoring. Harden will need to produce as much in the first round as he would in the last round for Rockets to advance.

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                      • #12
                        There isn't a singular path to building a successful team, however there are aids and steps that every successful team have taken.

                        I've always compared building a team like building a good deck in any TCG. You need to have an idea of how you want the deck to play, you need to have the right cards to let it play that way, and you need a good player who can play that way and with that deck. There are always cards that are deemed the best and everyone wants them, and cards that cause people to be split on its usefulness, and cards that are just filler.

                        For ball you need to have an idea of how the team is going to play, you need to have the right players to let it play that way, and you need a good coach that can play that way and with that team. There are players that are obviously better, players that cause controversy and players that are just filler.

                        Then you have the meta game, how everyone is trying to play at that point in time.

                        The whole argument that you have to play a certain way is rubbish, however I would argue that there are ways to play that are not useful given the meta.

                        Having a team first approach is a way of playing and so is having a star driven team. Neither determine whether you win or lose, it's about how all the pieces fit into what you are trying to do and about what the rest of the league is trying to do. I liked Masai's quote about how the NBA is a "trendy" league, because it is. People flock to what they think is successful, but that success will always come with a weakness and the meta will be forced to evolve through rule changes and talent available.

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                        • #13
                          S.R. wrote: View Post
                          Houston had an analytics-based approach before acquiring Harden, and still do as much as possible. It just turns out Harden is a more impactful talent than a platoon of role players shooting a ton of 3's.
                          He only helped all that. Harden is an analytical wet dream. Gets to the line better than anyone, opens the floor for 3 pt shooters, and is a 3 pt shooter himself.
                          It's Klaw Season. Time to hunt.

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                          • #14
                            KeonClark wrote: View Post
                            He only helped all that. Harden is an analytical wet dream. Gets to the line better than anyone, opens the floor for 3 pt shooters, and is a 3 pt shooter himself.
                            One stat that needs to exist is one that indicates ball stoppers. Harden does everything but he leaves teammates in terrible shooting situations as he dribbles out possessions. He and Wall are complete opposites in end goal for possesions

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                            • #15
                              raptors999 wrote: View Post
                              One stat that needs to exist is one that indicates ball stoppers. Harden does everything but he leaves teammates in terrible shooting situations as he dribbles out possessions. He and Wall are complete opposites in end goal for possesions
                              Actually those STATS DO EXIST.
                              They actually tells you HOW LONG the player holds the ball and WHAT is the results (pass or shot) and WHEN does the shot occurs during the possession. For the life of me, I cannot remember the website.

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