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Saturday, November 1, 2014

LINK: The New York Knicks are Fixed and so is the NBA

It’s scholar week here at KnickerBlogger, this time with the psychology of the NBA athlete.

You might be wondering whether just believing in the idea of developing talent helps to actually develop your talents. Carol Dweck and her colleagues observed students over two years while they were making the transition from middle school to high school. Such a transition is comparable to the one from college to the NBA for basketball players. Things that were easy become suddenly hard. Children who believed that their intelligence could be developed improved their grades over the two years. Whenever they encountered difficulties and obstacles, they increased their efforts to learn something new, and thereby developed their talents. On the other hand, children who believed that their intelligence was fixed stagnated. Whenever things got tough, they took it as an indicator of a lack of talent. And they proved themselves right: their grades did not improve. This, as well as a plethora of other studies, showed that believing in the malleability of talent leads people to grow and succeed.

The NBA appears to believe the opposite. Like the Knicks, professional basketball has created a cult around the idea that talent is fixed. It starts with assessing the quality of a draft pick. The most important thing is whether he has NBA-level talent or not – this is even more important than success at the college level or the willingness to work on his skills. Struggling during the transition from college to NBA is taken to indicate that a player’s talent is not sufficient. General managers often trade young players at this point, maybe in return for another first round pick, hoping that other ball clubs still believe in the possibility that there is NBA talent in this player.

It’s likely that such ideas about talent, endorsed by general managers and coaches, get adopted by the players. In recent years, Carol Dweck investigated how parents and teachers affect children’s beliefs about their talent. Where does the idea of talent as fixed – or not – come from?

Read the whole entire article here.

19 comments on “LINK: The New York Knicks are Fixed and so is the NBA

  1. bobneptune

    very interesting piece for anyone who has kids and can recognize the truth in what is being said here.

    there isn’t a single reason in the world that amar’e could not become a superior defender if someone demanded he do that and actually coach him. he has the lateral quickness for a 6’10” human. he has the explosiveness. he needs to be coached and the willingness to accept coaching.

    is there any reason someone couldn’t teach chandler a single post more or a kareem sky hook? not a single one. if i’m in charge of the knick, i’m hiring kareem and i’m telling chandler every day you are taking 500 sky hooks under the tutelage of jabbar if you want to be paid your $500,000 every other week.

    look at jordan…. cut from his high school basketball team. ewing, when he came into the league was touted as the next russell, not the next wilt, but developed a great offensive game every off season.

    but as fans and coaches, the easiest thing to do is to swap out players , rather than improving the skill set of what we have.

  2. Nick C.

    Great article. Sitting here at work I can’t really get much more in depth with my commentary than that other than to note it seems to infer the old school notion of hard work etc. is preferable to the everyone gets a medal philosophy.

  3. Matt Smith

    To be honest, I think the timing of these articles could wait a month or so for during the slower offseason – I’d much rather be discussing our current playoff series.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the article and the idea of posting it, I just think this isn’t the time.

  4. DS

    ^ and DS smacks his head wondering how snarky people can get bent out of shape over sharing a funny YouTube clip when people share articles from the Onion on these threads.

    “Whoa! Someone applied the theories of a Stanford psychogist to the Knicks’ season! This must be somethin’ smart people like!!! A-ding-dang-doo.”

  5. jon abbey

    “Carol Dweck and her colleagues observed students over two years while they were making the transition from middle school to high school. Such a transition is comparable to the one from college to the NBA for basketball players. ”

    this is the oddest jump I’ve seen in an article in a long time. just because they’re both transitions to higher levels doesn’t make them in any way comparable IMO.

  6. bobneptune

    Matt Smith:
    To be honest, I think the timing of these articles could wait a month or so for during the slower offseason – I’d much rather be discussing our current playoff series.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the article and the idea of posting it, I just think this isn’t the time.

    in all fairness , matt, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss.

    they are playing a better team in miami with 3 of their top 5 players missing. their chances of moving forward from here must be< 100-1.

    I mean they can win a game (although i doubt it) but 4 of the next 5 is unpossible without divine intervention.

    i thought the piece was rather thought provoking. I mean is there a single reason in the world amar'e is an awful defender/rebounder with his physical tools? i understand he came into the league out of high school into a coach that didn't give a sweet rats ass about defense, but could somebody bleeping coach him up! he doesn't seem like a guy who rejects hard work.

    look at derrick rose and john wall. both supreme athletes, rose increased his 3 point shooting by 10% over his rooking year and almost tripled his ws/48 while wall has regressed in all phases of the game.

    one guy is working to improve his skill set and the other concentrates on doing the dougie:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2alXMTwhT0M

    why can't chandler develop a sky hook so the knicks don't have to play 4 on 5 on the offensive end?

    inquiring minds want to know…….

  7. dogrufus

    This kind of stuff is all nice and uplifting, but it really doesn’t apply so well to professional sports- especially basketball. When it comes to to the capabilities of the mind, the possibilities are endless. But basketball is a game played with our bodies, and bodies have hard limits. NBA basketball in particular is only even potentially open, only a shadow of a possibility, for a tiny, tiny minority of genetic lottery winners.

    To get to even potentially be an NBA player, young players will have to have passed through a hundred “talent” filters, based on purely incidental traits that they cannot control (i.e. their height, their athleticism and ability to put on muscle at that height, the strength and durability of the joints and ligaments in their knees, etc.). Is it really irrational for them to think that being at that top level of the top league is just another hurdle based mostly on innate attributes.

    Look at LeBron- is he the best player in the league because he believed in himself harder than any one else? Looks to me like he is just a massively physically superior player, who happens to be generally smart and skilled enough to use it. He’s probably more physically gifted than MJ was, and for all the shit talked about him, he’s accomplished more than MJ did by the same age.

  8. bobneptune

    dogrufus:
    This kind of stuff is all nice and uplifting, but it really doesn’t apply so well to professional sports- especially basketball.When it comes to to the capabilities of the mind, the possibilities are endless.But basketball is a game played with our bodies, and bodies have hard limits.NBA basketball in particular is only even potentially open, only a shadow of a possibility, for a tiny, tiny minority of genetic lottery winners.

    To get to even potentially be an NBA player, young players will have to have passed through a hundred “talent” filters, based on purely incidental traits that they cannot control (i.e. their height, their athleticism and ability to put on muscle at that height, the strength and durability of the joints and ligaments in their knees, etc.)

    dr,

    nobody doubts there is a certain baseline athletic component to excelling in the nba.

    the point of the piece is, in the nba, the default position is constantly turning over rosters in search of “talent” rather than maximizing the talent already on the roster.

    and we all know….”the saddest thing in life is wasted talent”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIgrKNc7RBk

  9. Nick C.

    jon abbey: “Carol Dweck and her colleagues observed students over two years while they were making the transition from middle school to high school. Such a transition is comparable to the one from college to the NBA for basketball players. ”this is the oddest jump I’ve seen in an article in a long time. just because they’re both transitions to higher levels doesn’t make them in any way comparable IMO.

    That didn’t make much sense to me either. From HS to college maybe but from ES to Middle/JHS to HS the only issue was being the youngest group rather than the oldest which had nothing to do with classes.

  10. Matt Smith

    bobneptune: in all fairness , matt, there isn’t a whole lot to discuss.they are playing a better team in miami with 3 of their top 5 players missing. their chances of moving forward from here must be< 100-1. I mean they can win a game (although i doubt it) but 4 of the next 5 is unpossible without divine intervention.i thought the piece was rather thought provoking. I mean is there a single reason in the world amar’e is an awful defender/rebounder with his physical tools? i understand he came into the league out of high school into a coach that didn’t give a sweet rats ass about defense, but could somebody bleeping coach him up! he doesn’t seem like a guy who rejects hard work.look at derrick rose and john wall. both supreme athletes, rose increased his 3 point shooting by 10% over his rooking year and almost tripled his ws/48 while wall has regressed in all phases of the game.one guy is working to improve his skill set and the other concentrates on doing the dougie:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2alXMTwhT0Mwhy can’t chandler develop a sky hook so the knicks don’t have to play 4 on 5 on the offensive end?inquiring minds want to know…….

    Oh, I wasn’t saying that the piece wasn’t good. I thought it was great, and it definitely has a place on this board. I just don’t think we’re going to get the kind of discussion it deserves when it’s posted the day of a crucial playoff game.

  11. formido

    Tons of studies have come out verifying these findings. Folks who believe success comes from hard work do better than those who think success comes from talent.

    But note a critical point here: This doesn’t say anything about comparing those with talent and no talent. Obviously, people with talent do better than people with less talent, on average. But if you’ve got two people near the same level, those who don’t believe it’s all about talent do better.

    The focus in the NBA on a very narrow definition of talent is a failing. So is the failure to recognize that some of the things attributable to “talent” are highly trainable. People are born fast. But they can also be made fast. If you’ve got average springiness and build your max effort, Olympic style squat to 2.4x your body weight, you’ll have a 40 inch vertical. It’s approximately as simple as that. Yet, college and NBA, players do not commit to pushing up the 1RM on their squat.

    NFL draftees generally have much higher verticals than NBA draftees because they squat all day long. It’s just as important for NBA players–I think Shumpert had the highest vert in his draft, and you can see the effect it has on his game–but they don’t seriously train it! In fact, from what I’ve heard, their contracts prohibit them from even squatting below parallel. So wrong headed. The putative risk to the knees is an urban legend. Plenty of athletes in other sports safely perform full squats constantly during their training. It actually CONTRIBUTES to knee health.

    When I was younger, I was just your average white kid, but I made a dedicated effort to improve my vertical and eventually could do a standing dunk at only 5′ 10″. The difference in every aspect of my game is impossible to overstate.

    I was fascinated to read about Lin’s off-season training. I looked up the facility and read back through their blogs. They really get all this, down to the focus on 1RM max squat strength, and the results speak…

  12. Doug

    formido: In fact, from what I’ve heard, their contracts prohibit them from even squatting below parallel. So wrong headed.

    Is this true?? Mark Rippetoe would have a heart attack. Not going past parallel when squatting is not a natural range of motion! It puts shearing force on the knee!

    Squat deep or go home. ATG or nothing.

  13. Nick C.

    Doug: Is this true?? Mark Rippetoe would have a heart attack. Not going past parallel when squatting is not a natural range of motion! It puts shearing force on the knee!Squat deep or go home. ATG or nothing.

    You’d have quite the laugh at some of the people I’ve seen in gyms over the years. I’ve had trainers and other personnel give me friendly warnings when they have seen me doing full ROM squats. Though mostly I chalk it up to, because they are so f’in hard and hateful, a higher chance of poor form or coming up in stageswhich puts the low back at risk. Anyway back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  14. max fisher-cohen

    I thought this article was really interesting, and I think looking at teams like San Antonio and OKC, who seem to hit on nearly every pick, is definitely evidence in support of the notion of developing a culture of positivity on a team, where new players are given roles that they can manage, roles wherein they can succeed. Looking back at San Antonio’s current roster, you have a # of guys who are way outplaying their previous value:

    Danny Green’s WS/48 jumped from around .08 his first 2 seasons to .142 this season. Back in the day, after two atrocious seasons, Stephen Jackson came to life for the Spurs and played a huge role in their championships.

    You can look at other successful teams like Dallas — in his 4th season, after laboring on terrible teams in his first 3 — he doubles his WS/48. Again, you have to figure Dallas’s stability and ability to allow Wright to play a role where he can succeed and grow plaeyd some role in that turnaround.

    McGee on Denver too has played his best ball in Denver after average basketball for 3 1/2 years in Washington. Who knows how much better he might get next year?

  15. DaveTheRave

    bobneptune:
    is there any reason someone couldn’t teach chandler a single post move or a kareem sky hook? not a single one. if i’m in charge of the knick, i’m hiring kareem and i’m telling chandler every day you are taking 500 sky hooks under the tutelage of jabbar if you want to be paid your $500,000 every other week.

    Bob, great point and I have been saying this exact thing out loud to my sons every time we watch the Knicks. I feel the Knicks should definitely establish a post game with Chandler, he can surely do it!! It would take some pressure off Melo and other shooters if teams are forced to defend Chandler inside. And it would add some variety to an offense that, in my view, is WAY too dependent on outside shots.

  16. jimjamj

    formido can you link me to some research or info on improving one’s vertical?

    and what facility did Lin train at?

    formido:
    formido

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