Around draft time – or really around any time – whenever a young player’s name gets brought up, the inevitable happens. He gets compared to someone else. Oh yeah, I see a lot of Josh Smith in him … He’s got a bigger Brandon Roy written all over him … If he develops a jumper, he’s the next Dwyane Wade. It’s unavoidable.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not always fair to the player. Immediately, he’s got expectations placed on him. If the young prospect doesn’t at least reach the level of the player he’s being compared to, it’s almost like he’s failed. When in reality, he didn’t ask for the comparisons. He didn’t ask for the expectations.
FreeDarko’s Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac has a chapter titled “The Myth of the Next” where they look at who players were compared to early on in their career.
Some front offices rely on the hunches of grizzled intuitives, others on mountains of data. At times, out of weakness or frustration, these brave men and women turn toward a false idol: the Myth of the Next. Based, some say, on the Stoic notion of Eternal Return, the principal states that everything that has happened before in the NBA must happen again, and soon; in each year’s crop of fresh meat, they see reflected images of last season’s All-Star rosters. It’s effect is insidious, as what begins as an offhand comparison becomes hype, which is then all too easily transformed into regrettable action. Hopefully these recent examples can serve as a cautionary tale for organizations everywhere.
Brilliant stuff. A very recent and poignant example of an offhand comparison becoming snowballed hype can be found in Ricky Rubio and his Pete Maravich link. Some examples FreeDarko uses:
Myth of the Next Dirk Nowitzki – Pau Gasol, Darko Milicic, Nikoloz Tskitishvili
Myth of the Next Dwyane Wade – Brandon Roy, Rodney Stuckey, Randy Foye
Myth of the Next Magic Johnson – Penny Hardaway, Jalen Rose, Toni Kukoc
Myth of the Next Tracy McGrady – J.R. Smith, Dorell Wright, Gerald Green
There’s many more, but the point rings true – just because a player resembles another’s skillset and abilities, doesn’t mean he will turn out to be that same guy. And you have to be very careful tagging someone that way or you could end up looking like Dean Blevins on painkillers. In other words, stupid. Keep Reading…