Some who don’t follow closely may assume that the NBA will take a bit of a breath – and a victory lap – after the Denver Nuggets won their first-ever NBA Championship early last week. The “offseason” begins, right?
Well, not quite. The “offseason” of preparation for next season really begins with the NBA Draft on Thursday night, and then continues with draftee and free agent workouts and NBA Summer League well into July. We are well aware, and involved in some of this offseason analysis and prep – not just with our US basketball partners – but also with what we do in basketball outside of the US. The talent development and training analysis, the deeper dives into areas like load management and injury prevention, takes place as much in the offseason as it does in the height of the fall and winter, and is really how clubs like the Nuggets get to the top – with an unrelenting attention to detail.
For the Draftees entering this next stage of their career, this attention to detail and analysis may literally be foreign – especially to those not exposed to the grind of professional life during their tenure in the NCAA. However we don’t have to look any further than the top pick, Victor Wembanyama of France, to see how the global evolution of basketball is starting to mirror what goes on in sports like soccer. The 18 year old, who in all likelihood will be drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, will come to the NBA after spending time playing professionally with his club in France – experience which will mitigate some of the culture shock (at least on the court) – compared to some who will follow behind him in the Draft, who have only played for a year or two at the collegiate level.
The academy system, where young elite athletes start devoting serious time to training and performance at an early age, has long been in place around the world, and is a system where we have invested significantly – working with coaches and training personnel to develop and employ best practices with maturing athletes that are vital to early stage development. While Wembanyama will have a higher-level indoctrination into the NBA from a quality and depth of play standpoint, he will not be unfamiliar with the way training is conducted, since he has been in a “system” since the impressionable age of 14. While that may not make his first steps into the NBA easy, it will certainly make them familiar.
As we mentioned earlier, that early stage adoption of deeper and more meaningful performance analysis and training development at the academy level is something we have been involved with for years in international soccer and are thrilled to expand as we continue our work across the NCAA and now, with our newest partner, MLSNext and their roster of 12,000+ youth athletes. Leveraging performance intelligence and technology to help prepare young athletes for a more productive amateur and professional career in Sport should not be left to chance. We are looking forward to applying the best practices we’ve learned on the pitch internationally to the colleges and youth leagues that are turning to innovation to unlock performance outcomes for the next generation of stars while priming their player pathways and development pipeline.
So, while the Nuggets enjoyed that victory lap, the rest of the NBA was preparing for the incoming class, which begins as these young athletes descend on Barclays Center in Brooklyn tonight. It is a time of great excitement and anticipation for those selected (and their families) and our job is to help prepare those young stars for what’s next. For those like the gangly and deftly talented Frenchman, the transition may be a bit easier because of his path to the big leagues. For those being thrust into the limelight with a lot of potential but a lot less prep, the climb may be a bit steeper. We look forward to smoothing out that training curve as we help prepare the next generation of top performers for the main stage.
After all, that’s what we do best with all of our partners – plan, prepare and perform.
On or off, our season never ends.