Franchise has been toiling away reviewing last season’s statistics - which are clearly pointing out how "far" last season’s squad is from respectability. Although not perfect, hey paint an interesting story.
Statistics in today’s NBA, are more important than ever, just ask Daryl Morey, the former Boston Celtics stats guru who turned his statistical knowledge of the game into the General Manager position for the Houston Rockets.
The world of NBA statistics now encompasses far more than points, rebounds and assists per game. The NBA has introduced a plus/minus system much like that used in the NHL, John Hollinger has used statistics to introduce the Player Efficiency Rating (PER), and the aforementioned Morey has used numbers to put together a team together, whose highest paid player is on the shelf, that is looking to challenge the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs.
In the uber competitive world of professional sports everyone is trying to get and edge - statistics seems to be the way to get it. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Simmons.
Stats are all fine and good, and no doubt good measurements of a players worth....to a point.
What statistics can’t measure it a players desire to be great, their desire to be more, and their desire to win no matter what the cost.
Desire, or better yet, hunger for greatness, it virtually impossible to measure.
In this months ESPN Magazine, Chris Broussard talks about "hunger" and the few players in the league that "are just wired with a particular and insatiable desire." The article features Lebron but also discusses Kobe’s desire to win a ring without Shaq, the intense focus last characterized last years Celtics, Billups desire to play with those who share such a passion and Ric Buchler even puts together an All-Hunger team which included Paul, Kobe, Lebron, Duncan, Yao and Wade.
The quote in the article that really stood out was as follows -
"The playoffs are all about having hunger to the point where you're never satisfied."
So who was Broussard quoting? Lebron James. This years MVP.
Now I ask you, is there a player on the current Raps roster who could say this and that you would believe them without question?
I don’t see one.
Rather, I see a team that does a lot of talking about how hungry they are but don't necessarily play like they are. Byron Scott is quoted in the article as follows: "A lot of teams talk about how hungry they are, how dedicated they are. But until you go out and show it, it's just talk."
That pretty much sums up the Raps.
The Raps roster is currently made up of good-guys who, undoubtedly, work hard and give it their all. There’s just something missing. I don’t get the sense that there is anyone on the roster who has that unshakeable desire to win and that is willing to do anything, at any cost, to ensure that happens.
Maybe on that long laundry list of things that BC needs to address this off-season (i.e. slasher, rebounder, banger, defender, etc.) the thing that should be at the top of his list is someone who has "hunger" or as Broussard says, the "insatiable desire".
Now where that desire comes from, the root of that willingness can come from a variety of places. It can be a desire to be the absolute best (Kobe), the desire to be a champion (Lebron) or the desire to prove you are better than people give you credit for (Yao). What is shared however, is the simple desire to win.
Colangelo has to find a guy who, no matter what the motivation, has the "hunger".
In some ways you would hope that CB4 has this in him. At the beginning of this season when he came out guns a blazing, I wondered if the time he spent with the greatest players in the world didn’t instill some of that hunger which many of them share. If it did, it wore off as the season wore on.
Bargnani has, at times, demonstrated his willingness to be better. He spent last off-season working on his game to prove the nay sayers wrong and he has been successful I doing so to a point. I guess only time will tell if he has the burning desire to be one of the best. He has the skill set, but from where I am sitting he doesn’t strike me as a guy whose only focus is an NBA title.
Everyone else on the roster? In trying to measure the immeasurable...the parts just don’t add up.
The question then becomes, who, if anyone, is available this summer who has that hunger, or in the alternative has something to prove?
Having something to prove is sometimes all the motivation a player needs to become great. Caron Butler and Paul Pierce are the obvious examples of guys who entered the league with a chip on their shoulder and have used a draft day slight to fuel their careers. Ben Gordon has used his unenviable contract situation to prove his worth. Joe Johnson wanted and has proved he could be great. These guys are motivated and the Raps need guys who are motivated.
Given the economic times I think people will be surprised will how many players will be available and BC will have a variety of options. The key will be to find that guy who not only brings something to the table because the statistics say he does, but also the guy who is hungry.
Want a few names off the top of my head who might be available this summer?
Tyson Chandler, Jamal Crawford and Ben Gordon. Feel free to debate or mention other guy who you think might be able to bring what the Raps lack from a pure desire stand point.
I for one hope this summer Colangelo looks beyond a particular players statistics when he considers adding them to the roster. Sometimes it’s the intangibles that have the most value. Unfortunately determining what players have the hunger and which do not isn’t an easy task in a league where for every Allen Iverson there are ten guys like Tim Thomas.