Thursday, June 26, 2008

The NBA: "Boy, They Sure Can Jump!"

There's an article from Rethinking Basketball where Cheryl Ford criticizes the men's game, claiming that the NBA's game is simply about who can jump the highest. (This post started as a comment to his blog, but his commenting system is temporarily broken.)

Can't see the video, because I'm at work. However, the linked article is an interesting look at NBA Combines. The WNBA also holds such combines.

It seems that the NBA has borrowed the worst idea from the NFL -- that of the combine. I suspect that the general managers of big-money pro sports are so terrified about making a bad decision that their philosophy is "measure everything we can possibly measure, and something good will come of it". Millions of dollars are at stake, you know.

Thus in football you get all this emphasis on the Wonderlic and vertical leap and speed in the 40, all of which are atomized skills that could only serve as parts of a big picture, but there's no way to know how -- or if -- they'll work in combination. (If speed were all it took to make a great wide receiver, we'd be singing the praises of Renaldo Nehemiah even in 2008.)

I also believe that since NBA players are naturally taller and stronger than WNBA players, brute force is at a greater premium in the NBA than in the WNBA. There's always the hope that some draftee's strength and power will be enough to give him an edge over his future opponents if his comprehension of team defense, ball handling, or essential skills is lacking. (I still can't figure out why Lebron's dunkalicious dunks don't get stopped mid-dunk by a punch to the stomach, unless the NBA *really* doesn't know how to play defense.)

However, in the WNBA -- where it's rarer for one player to be physically dominant over the others -- team play skills are at a higher premium.

Q also suggested the idea of promoting the sport through mock WNBA drafts. Hey, I'm game for a mock WNBA draft! There are all kinds of WNBA blogs out there, so how do we make this happen in '09?


Q said...

Excellent point about the NBA borrowing the "atomized skills" evaluation from the NFL.

I think it would be great if a group of bloggers could coordinate scouting of college players nation wide and put together a mock draft.

BTW, I think I've fixed the comments now.

pt said...

Funny, I've already made a list of college players. I'll send it to you, providing I can find an e-mail address on your blog.

pt said...

Never mind. I found your e-mail address in your profile. :D