Are we getting better at evaluating NBA talent?
Not according to this insightful piece by Chad Ford who argues that professional basketball teams are actually getting worse at picking players, despite all of their new data-points, statistical tools and models.
The NBA draft is both an art and a science. Over the years, the balance between the two has gotten out of whack. We have seen a toxic combination of information overload and a dearth of access. This clouds both what the eyes see and what human intuition about a player tells us. If draft prospects were robots or numbers on a spreadsheet, the plethora of information and lack of human contact would be a good thing. But these players are people with habits, friends, families, lives. The less contact you have, the harder it is to factor all of that in.
Despite all the money that's spent, the ability to predict the success of a NBA draft prospect has not gotten better. Until the league finds a way to work with player agents to recreate a more intimate process, it's likely to remain a crapshoot for a long, long time
If you want to know how out of whack an entire industry can be in terms of evaluating players, you need to read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
See this Malcolm Gladwell post for more on the sports worlds failures to evaluate players.