FanPost

Malcolm Gladwell Makes a Brilliant Argument for Rubio/Flynn

I read a New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Tipping Point and Blink. The article was a basketball-centric look at how underdog teams can beat the favorites. It mainly focussed on the full-court press, and how it negates a gap in skill and evens out the playing field. It's one of the most interesting, though-provoking things I've ever read, and if you have fifteen or twenty minutes (it's long), I would recommend it wholeheartedly.

The main point of the article is that most competitive arenas establish kind of social norms, or certain standards of "the way things are done" that nobody really seems to challenge. For example, that it makes sense in basketball to concede half the court to your opponent and retreat to your half after a basket. But Gladwell brilliantly expresses the point that when you challenge those conventions, you have a chance to beat an opponent much more skilled than you. 

Another convention established is that, to be successful, one of your two guards needs to be a "2-guard" who is big enough to guard other "2-guards." Here's my point: The Wolves could try to go the conventional route, and build a team that can match up with the Lakers of the world. Or, they can do something radical, that doesn't make much sense to outsiders, but that the Lakers of the world aren't built to compete with. 

The Lakers of the world never think "Yeah, we'd struggle to beat a team that had two lightning-quick guards on the court together, because Kobe/Roy/whoever can only guard one of them, and we'd be worse off against a team that pushed the ball constantly because we'd never be able to get into our triangle/isolation offenses."

And why would they? They have no reason to think anybody would be crazy enough to build such a team. Because the standards and conventions of basketball society say that there are too many flaws to it. But really, are the Wolves going to find someone who can shut down Kobe or Roy, or enough interior size to deal with Bynum/Gasol/Odom or Aldridge/Oden/Pryz? Possible, but highly doubtful. Their odds of success are greater if they break from the blueprint of a typical championship team, and try to establish a new blueprint. I don't know if two flashy point guards together will work, but I know I prefer trying to find a way around the mountain that is the NBA elite, rather than trying to scale it.

I realize I rambled a bit, but my main point is this. Read the article, and think about the Timberwolves while you read it. Thanks.

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