How Long Is The Leash?: The Unpredictability Of Player Development

How Long Is The Leash?: The Unpredictability Of Player Development

The NBA is a league that is seeing more and more young talent come through the ranks and either flourish or falter. For every Kevin Durant there was a Greg Oden. For every Steph Curry a Johnny Flynn. Drafting the right player seems clear on draft night, but the development of players is what makes or breaks their NBA careers. It seems obvious. If a player doesn’t improve season to season they most likely won’t make it into the NBA. The question is on why some top prospects develop and others don’t. It’s a lot more complex than the “some guys just don’t have it” rhetoric that is often used as a detriment on draft night. There’s an aspect of emotion we like to call “hunger”. “Hunger” as in the drive to be great. It is an overused term that some players can never shake off or earn. But hunger isn’t the entire reason why a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo succeeds and a top prospect in Anthony Bennett flops. Development coaches are paid a lot of money to train a player to be better. But in reality, their job is based on 50% coaching skill and 50% blind faith. Each individual player must have a certain type of mindset and dedication to reach their full potential, but another factor is the environment he’s in. I’m not sure we’d see the same Antetokounmpo if he were playing in Orlando or Phoenix or Golden State. That’s the intricacy on forming culture. Culture isn’t something shaped by a CEO or General Manager. It’s a combination of the type of players you bring...
When Two Mountains Meet: Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns

When Two Mountains Meet: Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns

  Joel Embiid‘s stone face was plastered across ESPN as his name was announced third in the 2014 NBA Draft. The stone face became an instant internet meme, as Embiid’s excitement was halted due to tape delay. The excitement for Philadelphia 76ers fans would be delayed as well, as the moniker-ed “generational big man talent” from Cameroon was set to miss at least one NBA season due to a foot injury that cut his only season at Kansas short. Embiid’s off-court struggles would start with a grueling summer of rehab from the surgery he underwent shortly before the draft. Then-GM Sam Hinkie made it known that ensuring full health was the team’s first priority. Embiid’s rehab continue into the fall where tragedy struck. Arthur Embiid, Joel’s 14-year old brother, was killed in Cameroon. In a moving piece by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, he states that Embiid hadn’t seen Arthur since 2011 and “that grief and guilt” started to spread throughout the embattled big man. He went on to watch the Philadelphia 76ers lose 64 games while sitting on the bench, and showing off his talent through his famous 6-second slow motion through the leg dunk in warm ups. Meanwhile, Embiid was also watching his Kansas teammate and top pick Andrew Wiggins enjoy the type of season he should have had. Wiggins averaged 16.9 points per game and 4.6 rebounds on his way to dominating the Rookie of the Year voting. An award that could have easily been Embiid’s if healthy. Embiid’s name started fade in talks of the best young promising players, and his moniker of a “once in a generation...