An exploration of how to rebuild a professional basketball team.
For those still marveling at how the once-inconsequential Golden State Warriors won two out of the last three NBA championships, look no further than Bay Area basketball reporter Malinowski’s lively book, which documents the many-moving-parts project of rebuilding the Warriors, very much as Michael Lewis’ Moneyball did so for another hapless Oakland squad, the A’s. When new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, bringing venture capital and Hollywood money, came onto the scene at the turn of the decade, they initiated massive changes, firing a hapless front office with a knack for losing talented players while overpaying mediocre ones and bringing in basketball legend Jerry West to work with the players. What no one had appreciated, writes the author, was that they had one key ingredient to success and didn’t really realize it—namely, Wardell Stephen Curry II, who was drafted by the team in 2009 and “was seen as a scrawny college star who performed feats that couldn’t be replicated in the pro game.” Wedding Curry’s skills to solid coaching provided by West, Steve Kerr, and a host of lieutenants, the Warriors began to show their stuff. At the same time, those strategists began to pull together other elements of success, including “an improved and retooled defense” and, yes, lots of number-crunching that gave them uncanny insight into who ought to be on the court at any given moment: “With [Kevin] Durant sitting, Golden State shot 13 percent better from the floor and a whopping 29 percent better from three,” Malinowski writes, good reason for Kerr to be constantly mindful of moving his roster in and out of the game depending on who they were up against. Obviously, it worked.
Instructive reading for every coach and every player in every sport—and fun, too.