March 4, 2006

Gladwell: Lazy Centers

Malcolm Gladwell:
David Sally, a behavioral economist at Dartmouth, responds to the discussion I had with Bill Simmons yesterday on the tendency of NBA players to so dramatically over-perform in the last year of their contract:

With regard to the contract year phenomenon, we can go a little further--we can predict that the likelihood of the post-contract dip is positively correlated with the height of the player. Why is that? Again, the answer lies in the environment-individual link. The seven foot guy has heard that he should be a basketball player since he was eight years old or even younger. He's been pushed his whole career onto the grade school team, onto the varsity, into Division I, and then the NBA draft. He is much less likely than the six foot guy to ever have made a committed choice. He may never had to exert anything approaching his maximum effort level until his contract year. As a result, he has either no idea how to persevere or no intrinsic motivation. So, Simmons' rule is actually too blunt: it seems he should be able to draft contract-signing point guards and two guards for his fantasy team, but never centers or fours. Small forwards--we'd have to do the empirical study.
Posted by James Zellmer at March 4, 2006 7:14 PM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
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