Friday, March 20, 2009

Waiting to Exhale

This article about scouting during the NCAA tournament suggests that NBA general managers are aware of their bounded rationality, and, even better, will go to extreme lengths to hinder their own bad impulses. It always seemed silly that a couple postseason games should receive outsized attention for purposes of evaluating player ability, compared to a few dozen regular-season games, possibly multipled by two or three seasons of a player's career. Rules like five-fouls-and-you're out, the 45-second shot clock, and the one-and-one free throw scheme can help weaker college teams to upset true powers given a few lucky breaks, so why pay too much attention to March Madness? John Paxson has built his Bulls team almost exclusively with players who thrived on their college team in late March -- Rose, Noah, Thomas, Gordon, Deng, Hinrich -- and look where the Bulls are now after several years of that nucleus. Similarly, Carmelo Anthony looked like the greatest star of the 2003 draft class after he led Syracuse to a national title, and now it's not even clear if he's better than David West.

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