NBA Playoffs Preview: Atlanta Hawks

The Jazz June - The Boom, The Motion, and the Music (2000)

Let me spoil this one from the start: just as the Atlanta Hawks have a bunch of guys who all play exactly the same position, The Jazz June had three (!) guitarists.

Usually we like to keep the punchline hidden til at least two-thirds of the way down the post, when you're on the hook to sign up for our newsletter or to see some sort of usgoldbureau.gif banner ad you didn't expect. Gold is the only store of value that's never been worth nothing, after all, and just look at this chart and imagine how rich you'd be if you'd bought some gold back during the halcyon days of ought-six and held it til now:

click to enlarge the image; then call your broker!

Of course, if the adage Negative Dunkalectics's own "Kirk Krack" invented the other day about how "you can't live in gold!" is true, I might as well invent two other similar adages just to make this post look like less of a mess:
  1. "You (usually) can't form a great band around three guitarists!" &
  2. "You (usually) can't win with an NBA team comprised almost entirely of 6'7" athletic guys who all basically play the same position!"
Ok: that's a little too baggy to make a memorable adage, so let's just call it a parable.

According to the Rigorous Schedule we've set for posting these playoff previews, I was supposed to schedule this to post in the afternoon yesterday, before the Hawks got blown out in last night's game against the Pacers. After giving some serious thought to firing myself from ND, I realized that this one extra game helped prove my thesis, viz., that the Hawks will get knocked out in round one by the Magic AND that they're condemned forever to be a middling team that wins 45 or so games and loses in round one until their management understands the concept of "comparative advantage."

Since you're unlikely to dust off your Ricardo, comparative advantage succinctly entails that enormous gains in wealth and productivity come from specialization and trade through which people can complement each other's special skills. Read this thing Don Boudreaux wrote (then send some hate mail about how I posted a link to
Ricardo’s result, which still holds up today, is that what matters is not absolute production ability but ability in producing one good relative to another.
Ann and Bob are the only two people on an island. They use only two goods: bananas and fish. If Ann spends all of her working time gathering bananas, she gathers one hundred bunches per month but catches no fish. If, instead, she spends all of her working time fishing, she catches two hundred fish per month and gathers no bananas. If she divides her work time evenly between these two tasks, each month she gathers fifty bananas and catches one hundred fish. If Bob spends all of his working time gathering bananas, he gathers fifty bunches. If he spends all of his time fishing, he catches fifty fish. If Ann and Bob do not trade, then the amounts that each can consume are strictly limited to the amounts that each can produce. Trade allows specialization based on comparative advantage and thus undoes this constraint, enabling each person to consume more than each person can produce.
Got it??? 

Let's just say that NBA teams have adapted different positions in order to utilize different players' complementary skills best and to make teams that are more than the sum of their parts, including point guards adept at passing, penetrating, and knocking down threes and big men who can post up, rebound, and block shots. Compared to these specialists, 6'7"-6"10" wing players are generalists: good at many things, but great at nothing in particular. Like Andre Igoudala.

And, wouldn't you know it, the Hawks's roster's filled with generalists: they even famously passed on exceptional specialist point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams to draft the prototypical Hawk, Marvin Williams. Check out the roster:

(Editor's note: here's the place for a bad joke about how if the Hawks ever move to Seattle with their current roster, they should call themselves the Washington Generalists. Also: you're fired.)

sorry -- I forgot to move the mouse pointer. deal with it dog.gif

I have to imagine that the Pape Sy draft pick took place after somebody in the Hawks's front office read, saw the line "NBA Comparison: Marvin Williams/Josh Smith/Josh Powell/Joe Johnson/Damien Wilkins," and immediately thought "now THERE'S the guy we want!" This year the Hawks have no first round pick (they dealt it away to the Wizards in the Kirk Hinrich-Mike Bibby trade that later ruined the Miami Heat's chances of slowing down Derrick Rose in the playoffs), but you'll never guess who projects them picking in the second round:

Anyway, just as the Hawks limited their team by drafting a bunch of guys who aren't complementary because they all duplicate each others' skillsets, The Jazz June limited themselves by also having a bunch of guys who duplicated each others' skillsets: three guitarists.

The Jazz June's lesson for the Hawks is that this usually doesn't work out! Somehow people remember the band with nostalgia but let us never forget that almost all of The Jazz June's records were mediocre. They Love Those Who Make The Music was one of the most average products of the myriad Promise Ring/Get Up Kids clones and The Medicine wasn't much better. 

Similarly, the Hawks got blown out yesterday by the Indiana Pacers.

Of course what makes a parable more complex than an adage is the fact that it includes more than one event... and in the story I'm making up on the fly here, that second event is a reversal! Are you ready?

Even though almost all of The Jazz June's records were utterly mediocre, The Boom, The Motion, and The Music turned out to be slightly better than mediocre! I might even call it good! I can say without hesitation although probably still in an unenthusiastic monotone that I enjoy listening to it.

Similarly, the Hawks's four fans are really going to enjoy it if their team of Marvin Williamses ever manage to break through and get swept by the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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For more Emo Spring NBA Playoff Previews, click here and wallow in a weird combination of nostalgia and embarrassment!


Kelly said...

Rajon Ricardo

Stephen said...

Jereme Richmond hahahaahahahahhaha! Just like Marvin Williams, he was a Freshman sixth man forward who played few college minutes before going into the draft. He also wasn't even as good as Marvin Williams.

Chris said...

re: stephen,

some things next change!

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