I hate the use of the phrase “market inefficiency” when it is applied to basketball players. It’s kind of like “Beer! It’s not just for breakfast any more!” It’s funny the first time and the second time. But after that…well, it’s still funny.
Ok, I don’t have a point there. I just like beer. But, market inefficiency is an overplayed metaphor. I think it is a way for people covering the sport to say “Talent! We don’t know it when we see it!”
The Spurs have done something a bit sneaky. Or, as some like to say, Spur-sy. They have a set of guys at the forward position who can not only shoot the 3-ptr, but who are very long. I mean they are really, really long.
- Kawhi Leonard — 7′ 3″ wingspan
- Austin Daye — 7′ 3″ wingspan
- Kyle Anderson — 7′ 3″ wingspan
If you read the DraftExpress bios on all three players, you will find one thing in common among their various weaknesses. Lack of explosiveness. None of them are considered to be exceptional athletes. Obviously, Kawhi is a pretty good athlete, but he slipped to 15th in the draft because he wasn’t explosive. Anyhow, that’s not the point. The point is that they are all very long. Compare with alligator-armed Matt Bonner at 6′ 9″ wingspan.
One of the previous market inefficiencies was the “3 and D” guys. Players who could shoot the 3-ptr and play defense. These are now hard to come by as Zach Lowe points out and hard to find in the draft as this Grantland list of 2013 draft candidates will tell you:
- Carrick Felix
- Reggie Bullock
- James Southerland
- Tony Snell
- Solomon Hill
That is not exactly a list of who’s who. Or is it whose who?
I’m going to make a guess here and say that the Spurs are more interested in intelligent players who have length (and who can shoot) than players who have the athleticism to D up. My theory is that the Spurs don’t subscribe to the lockdown defender model of defense. It’s all about being a functional defender. Force your man one way or the other. Rely on your help to contain. Rotate and recover. Length and intelligence — knowing where to go — will make for an adequate defender.
Austin Daye and Kyle Anderson aren’t going to make any all-defensive teams. I think the Spurs are betting on them becoming functional defenders. Players who will be in the right spots and do the right things defensively. Deflect passes, grab some rebounds, show some instincts to anticipate. That kind of thing. And, of course, knock down shots. They are players with a little bit of Robert Horry in them. Not exactly 3s, not exactly 4s. But definitely basketball players.