Friday, June 13, 2008

Where does a team get its personality? From its coach

Came across an LA Times article a few days ago about how former Laker Michael Cooper and former Piston Bill Laimbeer are coaching in the WNBA.  In the story, Laimbeer (who played for my Dad in Cleveland) is quoted as saying:

"I hope my teams take on my personality.  My personality is, we're going to win the basketball game no matter what. We're going to win the championship no matter what, that's all we care about . . . they go out there with the intensity and no minutes off, no seconds off."

When head coaches in the CBA and USBL (and recruiting at the college level),  one huge advantage is getting to draft and sign players who fit your style.  In the NBA, coaches are hired to coach teams while the scouting department, headed by the GM, is responsible for personnel.  
Of course, that's how it should be as NBA coaches don't have the time to really immerse themselves in the draft because they're totally focused on the NBA season.

Frequently, when the coach gets involved, it can influence the scouting department.  This can can problematic since the coach's opinions might be biased or based on a limited amount of information.  

On the other hand, scouts have watched dozens of games and have a much more well-rounded view of a player's strengths, weaknesses, personality, tendencies, etc.  In many cases, they've watched the player over several seasons so they have seen him develop, know where he's improved and grown.

A team's opinion of a player should not change drastically based on a couple of short individual workouts a few weeks before the draft.  With that said, a team like Utah does a great job as a front office of getting players who fit Coach Sloan's personality and schemes.  That's due, in part, to Coach Sloan's long tenure with the Jazz because Utah's scouts know what kinds of players excel in his system and who has the best chance of succeeding there.  They know because they've seen it over two decades.  Not every team has that luxury.