Mavs Draft Philosophy: A Cancer To Be Removed
In Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's recent blog post, he remarks regarding the NBA Draft:
"What I do know, at least what I think i have learned from my experiences in business is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do. Not easier. Harder. It also means that as other teams follow their lead, it creates opportunities for those who have followed a different path.
"I see quite a few teams taking what appears to be the same approach to building a team. I can understand why they are taking this approach. In the current CBA the value of a player chosen in the draft can be considerable because of the defined contract terms. And if you put together some great young players, it is very enticing to want to keep those players together for a long period.
"But I also know that even if you have the worst record in the NBA, you may not get the top pick and even if you do, there is a material chance you pick the wrong player, or it just happens to be a draft when there are not any IDENTIFIABLE superstar potential players at the top of the draft.
"In other words, while it may be popular i think the quantity of teams taking the same approach makes it more difficult to build a team in this manner."
My reaction to all that is not a positive one. My reaction to that is that it reads like the Mavs are making excuses -- for past failures and even for future failures. "Why try?'' Mark opines, giving us reasons to justify rebuilding without using the draft to do so ...
• "We might not get the pick we want."
• "We might not pick the right player."
• "There might not even be a player worth having."
Let's recognize that this view is nothing inspired by the new CBA or by the Mavs' current situation. in truth, the Mavs have blown off the draft with such reasoning/excuse-making for years. Crappy effort has produced results in kind, and then each of those bad picks - coming from the organization's own lack of ability and effort - has been filed in their own minds as further proof that "drafting is too hard to do well."
When it comes to the draft, the Mavs now seemingly believe that poor results are "to be expected" rather than something to be corrected. A self-perpetuating mindset of failed-draft inevitability is in place.
So Mark Cuban, this is to you and your decision-making core:
I love ya, Mark and Donnie, and you did us proud with a title. I am no enemy of the Mavs and DallasBasketball.com certainly is not, either. But because of my passion for the Mavs and my respect for your leadership of them, I don't want the Mavs to use a title as an excuse to fall into a Jerry Jones-like world where backwards thinking is acceptable. So let me say it bluntly: Whoever inspired those aforementioned "Blog Maverick'' thoughts should be fired.
Fired. Demoted. Made to change his mindset. Something.
(An aside: The astute reader will note that my approach here is not rabble-rousing, attention-getting or "headline porn,'' the clever phrase Mr. Cuban recently used in a conversation with DB.com's Mike Fisher. This story is in the Premium section because it's an attempt at measured thought rather than a "Cuban Should Fire Himself!'' harangue designed simply to muck-rake for pageviews.)
Mark, do you remember how it grated against your sense of building winning expectations when Nellie would poor-mouth the Mavs chances in tough games? Maybe it was a ploy on his part, or maybe it was his defense mechanism to keep from being blamed for falling short, but whatever the case, you hated it. As you rightly noted with Nellie, a negative mindset is a cancer, and whatever it takes, it has to be excised, or it will become an easy crutch for perpetual failure.
Now, you may not realize it, but that very mindset you hated is now one you're using with the draft.
So here's what you must do. Get a draft department (with the best scouts, cross-checkers, and player-evaluators that money can buy) and a draft guru to manage it. Maybe the new guy Rosas you just hired is that "best in the world" guy. But if he isn't good enough to erase all of your negative expectations (and from the blog post, it appears that's the case), that's OK – just add another guy, the one who can make the Mavs the best drafting team in the NBA.
And get the negative thinkers entirely out of the process, the ones who have accepted excuses for failure for many many years, which even might include you and Donnie.
Mark, you have been innovative in so many ways. So has Donnie, especially in the area of world-wide scouting. There simply must be draft-related innovations besides "aw, it just doesn't matter than much.''
It's time to learn to win the draft game, Mark. The Mavs try to win the free-agency game and the technology game and the medical-and-training game and the locker-room-perks game and the coaching game ... why give up here?
Draft picks are coveted assets by some teams, the ones that know how to use those picks expertly. The Mavs can be one of those teams. Heck, with Mark Cuban's resources and brainpower, the Mavs SHOULD be one of those teams.
Thinking otherwise is a cancer that must be removed.
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