Hi guys, this is my first Fanpost. Been reading PTH religiously for a while now and been a mad hawks fan for 20+years... love the site - beats the hell out of scouring the net for reports or waiting for AJC (or even worse Hawks.com) to finally publish some new news!
For my first post I thought I'd take a look at the role of team dynamics in regard to player motivation and success. What lead me to write this post is the common debate on PTH about tanking and loading up on youngsters via draft, and the pros and cons of the approach. Most of the commentary either way has focussed on future talent vs consistent competitiveness in developing a contending ballclub. While both these arguments have merit, there's a range of more predictive factors that,come into play when cultivating a contender. The one I will address in this post is internal team motivational structure. In a league where everyone can ball, highly motivated players and teams often prove to be the difference between a good team and a contender.
From a motivational perspective, perennially successful teams seem to be able to maximise their internal talent base by building rosters with the following:
1. Quality character ex-stars/leaders as minimum+ vets. These guys keep the 'peak of their career' players (e.g Horford) motivated and developing/adapting their game. They provide a constant reminder to the peak guys that it doesn't last forever and keeps them legacy focussed.
2. Quality 'peak of their career' guys. These guys give the young talent something to beat, and show them the work required to make it as a NBA star. The minimum vets are often too old to relate to the young guys on that level. It's the peak guys that provide them with the crucial next rungs on the development ladder.
3. Young talent. If you don't have this you don't have anyone pushing the incumbents for playing time. They keep the peaks on their heels and are provide a future for the ball-club.
4. A system/organisation/coaching staff in place that acknowledges the effect of the motivational 'chain of command' above, and finds ways to both :
a) Consider it when deciding on player acquisitions (players character/effect on other players motivation/balance of the roster)
b) Maximise it's benefits once rosters are set (player groupings at training/mentor-matching/etc)
The lack of the above pieces is one of the (many) reasons alot of highly talented teams suck (or are only good for a few seasons) while other teams seem to be in the mix almost every year. If the hawks want to truly develop a winning culture for years to come (and avoid the disappointment of habitual unfulfilled young talent or post-success dropoff) it should consider the above in balancing out the roster each year, and also when developing players. Doing so might just push a very good hawks team to be great one of these years.