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Thread: Deep Dive - David Griffin [Long Post]

  1. #1

    Deep Dive - David Griffin [Long Post]

    So it's all done, it's all official, it's all been signed, press conference is over, David Griffin is the new ''Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations'' for the New Orleans Pelicans. Whatever else that means, it means he's the guy who is, at the end of the day, in charge. He may as well be called ''Executive Vice President of Trading Anthony Davis''. We've heard a lot about how amazing he is, and how well respected he is around the league. But what about his perspectives? What viewpoints does he hold? What's his outlook? I decided to take a look at a few interviews, a few podcasts he's been on, a few TV appearances, and try to put together a little portrait of the man who's now running our franchise. Each section begins with a bold title, so if all you care about is his perspective on the draft, for example, you can find that easily without having to read anything else. Sources used in this post are included at the bottom. There was some other sources I watched or listened to (for example, Griffin's hour long appearance on Woj's podcast in April of last year) that I didn't include here because they didn't really address anything too relevant to this post. I watched and read a lot more than what's cited here.

    DISCLAIMER: Obviously an evaluation like this will contain some personal opinion, and there's no question that some information simply won't be available to fans. So take this with a grain of salt. It's obviously fine for you to disagree with a personal evaluation that I make.

    Style of Rebuild One thing seems to be fairly clear: David Griffin doesn't want to rush things. In an interview with SI in February [source 1] he discussed having to build around Lebron James as being a very different experience from running a normal team. ''A lot of teams get to build in more long-view, mindful, sustainable way, but with the championship in sight each year, that needs to be adapted'' he says, and that sounds to me a little like a guy who actually prefers the former set up. Using terms like ''mindful'' and ''sustainable'' implies that the rush-job of running a Lebron team requires being unsustainable, and a little mindless in terms of the franchise's future, and it's good to see him acknowledging the difficulties of that time in CLE. It's good that he recognises that running a team that way isn't always going to work for every team, and can be a terrible strategy for long term success.

    At the press conference yesterday, he made it clear that his intention is to build this franchise for ''generational'' success, as he put it. He also added in the media availability after the presser that the way Cleveland was built was very ''inorganic'' and that there's a chance in New Orleans to be more ''mindful of sustaining success'' and ''playing the long game'' [2] There's those key words again, mindful and sustained.

    Trade Preferences We've been pretty lucky to get Griffin's fairly open opinions on the kinds of trades he prefers [3] It's good to know the attitude your head guy takes when there's something like that Anthony Davis trade coming up. Of course, everyone has seen the clip by now where Griffin says that he would want at least one young guy with star potential, draft picks, and a high quality roleplayer.

    For a lot of people, that seems to have translated into them thinking that Griffin has his eye on the Boston trade. Now, of course that's possible, but there is also this to consider: in the SI interview, Griffin discusses trades a little bit and he was asked specifically about how LA handled the trade deadling with regards to Davis. He made it clear that for him, 'the teams that are most successful, sort of come in at the 11th hour under the cover of night and make a deal. I look at what [former Jazz general manager] Kevin OíConnor did when he traded Deron Williams to the Nets, by way of example. Nobody heard that coming and he made a very positive deal for his franchise and set up the future of his franchise. I think thatís how you should do things'' [1]. And speaking of Anthony Davis and trades, he also adds this later in the interview: ''You need to maximize your asset value all the time [...] remain flexible theyíll be able to accumulate the right assets for the good of the franchise.''

    Concerning Tanking The last thing to take from the SI interview is that Griffin is against tanking. Kinda. He notes however, that in Cleveland due to the loss of Lebron when he first took up residence there, he knew that ''we were in one of those rare situations where emotionally, with the city, losing was going to be someone elseís fault. So we didnít need to bring a ton of rhetoric to a tanking campaign, we could just go about the process of maximizing and accumulating assets.''

    To me, that sounds like someone saying that he isn't in favour of ''tanking'', but he is very willing to ''just go about the process'', particularly when losing is ''someone else's fault'' - ding ding ding, that's alarm bells for Anthony Davis ditching the team midway through a season. Depending on the trade return, Griffin could be willing to allow one season worth of going ''about the process'' while the city recovers from ''someone else''.

    Concerning Ethos We heard a lot in the press conference about the idea of family, and that's something that Griffin mentions a lot. When asked about the gameplan of landing big time free agents [4] Griffin responded ''the thing for us [in Cleveland] was just to try to build something that everybody wanted to be part of. You know, you see it in Houston, [...] what CP said about the joy they have there, Golden State's a great example, Kevin was really attracted to the joy-machine, the joy-engine that is Golden State, and I think if you create a family-like atmosphere, where you tell people what they need to hear, guys want to be part of what you're doing because it's authentic.''

    The Draft Griffin notes that when drafting the right player, a lot of it depends on your system and your coaching staff; this is a worry, if he keeps Gentry on, in my view. Our system is run and gun with no defense. Drafting players for that is kind of concerning. He adds, however, that ''the most important thing to keep in mind is that it's about the human beings first'' [4], and adds that ''if a guy is unwilling to fail, very often he won't.'' That tells you a little something about the mentality he's looking for in players when draft night comes around. It appears that one of his highest concerns will be motor and work ethic.

    At least a little of this probably comes from learning from his own mistakes. Griffin drafted Anthony Bennett in 2013 as the #1 overall pick, and he recognises the mistake that was. ''The issue with Anthony was, and we had no way of knowing it at the time, the kid had no desire to overcome adversity whatsoever. As soon as it was hard, he was out,Ē Griffin was quoted as saying [5] ''His whole life, he rolled out of bed bigger, better, and more talented than everybody else. As soon as it was hard, it was over. And I was the one on campus at UNLV. Iím the one who got sold the bill of goods and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. You **** up sometimes.''

    Griffin's change in focus since then from raw talent, to instead being more focused on personality and work ethic is an important thing in two respects. On one level, it tells us that he's willing to own up to his own mistakes and learn from them. On the second, it reinforces his overall strategy that he's repeated time and again over the last few years, and again at the press conference yesterday: Griffin wants to build a team with an identity that revolves around honesty, hard work, motor, and investment. Either you're all the way in, or you're all the way out.

    I have my doubts about Griffin still. But he does have a game plan, and the game plan looks positive.

    Sources:
    1 -SI Interview: https://www.si.com/nba/2019/02/22/da...ng-dan-gilbert
    2 -Press Conference Media Session from Wednesday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHjHruOL3d0
    3 -David Griffin's trade preferences video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g_KFsae2PQ
    4 -Challenges of Being a GM video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvT9e-NYRzQ
    5 -Having Anthony Bennett on his resume: https://theathletic.com/135466/2017/...013-nba-draft/
    Zion ''The Earthquake'' Williamson

  2. #2
    Great post. What you have outlined is all of my hopes and fears in one post.

    Do I know if Griff will get the job done? No, but I hope so. So far he is starting the game up by 4pts on his opponent. He isn’t RC Buford or Danny Ainge with their 15 pt lead, but he isn’t Del Demps who was always down by 5. Griff is somewhere in the middle. It is now up to him to close it out and get us the win.
    If you Jimmer it, they will come.

  3. #3
    ''The issue with Anthony was, and we had no way of knowing it at the time, the kid had no desire to overcome adversity whatsoever. As soon as it was hard, he was out,” Griffin was quoted as saying [5] ''His whole life, he rolled out of bed bigger, better, and more talented than everybody else. As soon as it was hard, it was over. And I was the one on campus at UNLV. I’m the one who got sold the bill of goods and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. You **** up sometimes.''

    This to me is not a positive but a major area of concern(as is his draft record in general). He did have people around him who knew that, expressed their concerns, and made the case emphatically. Griffin ignored them and pushed for Anthony anyways. And with hindsight he is still sort of avoiding fully owning his process failings here.

    Absolutely great piece overall though. That doesn't get fanboyish but articulates a well-rounded picture of his management style.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by N.O.Bronco View Post
    ''The issue with Anthony was, and we had no way of knowing it at the time, the kid had no desire to overcome adversity whatsoever. As soon as it was hard, he was out,” Griffin was quoted as saying [5] ''His whole life, he rolled out of bed bigger, better, and more talented than everybody else. As soon as it was hard, it was over. And I was the one on campus at UNLV. I’m the one who got sold the bill of goods and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. You **** up sometimes.''

    This to me is not a positive but a major area of concern(as is his draft record in general). He did have people around him who knew that, expressed their concerns, and made the case emphatically. Griffin ignored them and pushed for Anthony anyways. And with hindsight he is still sort of avoiding fully owning his process failings here.

    Absolutely great piece overall though. That doesn't get fanboyish but articulates a well-rounded picture of his management style.
    I can absolutely understand that. I think there are two major ways of reading that quote. You can read it negatively, and say that saying things like ''we had no way of knowing it at the time'' sort of brushes off responsibility, and that saying ''you **** up sometimes'' just not entirely accurate. You can also read it positively, implying that he knows he bought something bad because he was focused on the wrong things, and that he's changed his perspective based on that experience.

    There's definitely concern. He's made, as far as I can tell, one solid gold draft choice (Kyrie Irving), one awful draft choice (Anthony Bennett) and one draft choice that I don't personally like, but maybe he didn't make the pick himself because it was ready for the trade (Wiggins). That's kind of all over the place. It's hard to know.

    And thank you, I was really trying to avoid any kind of fanboyish tones. At least partially because: I'm not a fanboy he wasn't my first pick for the job, and while I see a lot to like, I've been pretty open about my scepticism regarding his abilities. That said, I think from the interviews and video I watched of him, he's at least saying a lot of the right things and I'm willing to give him a chance.

  5. #5
    I will say I am a soft Griffin skeptic.

    Not in that I think he is bad but that I think he has overall been only a moderately above average GM and has a lot of questions around core areas like drafting and coach hires that we can't afford to screw up.

    Kyrie to me is like giving Demps credit for AD, both were pretty consensus overall picks, so I don't personally put Kyrie in the discussion of Griffin's draft prowess. So setting that aside he has been pretty mediocre going back to his time as Senior VP in Phoenix. His team's taking Robin Lopez over Roy Hibbert in 08, Earl Clark over Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Demarre Carroll, and Taj Gibson in 09. Taking Dion Waiters over Lillard, Drummond, and Barnes in 12. Anthony Bennett in 13. Wiggins in 14, which was pretty understandable. All are choices(Except sort of Wiggins) that just based on the guys slotted at the same consensus draft value position at the time look like incorrect choices.

    Though I temper that with the fact that he was not the final decision-maker on any of those selections, though he was either one of or the strongest voice in the room when those decisions were made by the final decision-makers, so they can't be totally discounted. And to play even greater devils advocacy, there was a good decade plus where Danny Ainge was considered a poor drafter...until he wasn't. So I am not discounting that past history may not be the right indicator of future performance.
    Last edited by N.O.Bronco; 04-18-2019 at 09:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Appreciate the post and time and effort. Griffin is already doing something that we have never establish here: creating a culture from top to bottom. I really enjoyed his seemingly passionate nature and holding everyone accountable just from his introduction.
    CAW CAW!!!

    -Founder and valuable member of the Caw Caw Boyz-

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by N.O.Bronco View Post
    ''The issue with Anthony was, and we had no way of knowing it at the time, the kid had no desire to overcome adversity whatsoever. As soon as it was hard, he was out,” Griffin was quoted as saying [5] ''His whole life, he rolled out of bed bigger, better, and more talented than everybody else. As soon as it was hard, it was over. And I was the one on campus at UNLV. I’m the one who got sold the bill of goods and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. You **** up sometimes.''

    This to me is not a positive but a major area of concern(as is his draft record in general). He did have people around him who knew that, expressed their concerns, and made the case emphatically. Griffin ignored them and pushed for Anthony anyways. And with hindsight he is still sort of avoiding fully owning his process failings here.

    Absolutely great piece overall though. That doesn't get fanboyish but articulates a well-rounded picture of his management style.
    Exactly what I gathered from reading that.

    IMO interviews are like 75% of knowing if you are drafting a good/great player. If he can't discern a player's commitment and reaction to adversity, that's a red flag. But that's cool, he can hire someone who is great at that(like me, lol jk). Seriously though, interviews and personality traits are everything when drafting. They're all talented.

    Great post Pelicandae.

  8. #8
    A Soulful Sports Fan Contributor Eman5805's Avatar
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    But how can you really know who is committed to overcoming adversity...when they've never experienced it? A lot of people can talk a big game, but wilt when the heat is on.

    Granted, it's known that others in the Cavs organization weren't in favor of Bennett. So we have justification to worry about how he evaluates, but whatever. There was no perfect option to be POBO.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonPelicans View Post
    Exactly what I gathered from reading that.

    IMO interviews are like 75% of knowing if you are drafting a good/great player. If he can't discern a player's commitment and reaction to adversity, that's a red flag. But that's cool, he can hire someone who is great at that(like me, lol jk). Seriously though, interviews and personality traits are everything when drafting. They're all talented.

    Great post Pelicandae.
    Anthony Bennett showed up to his pre draft workouts out of shape based on a wrist injury. As a GM I would have immediately taken him off my draft board. Why would a player not be in the best shape of their lives during the most important interview?

  10. #10
    Pistol Pete Would Be Proud!! AusPel's Avatar
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    People learn from their mistakes. The mistake he made in 2013 isn't likely to be repeated 6 years later

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Eman5805 View Post
    But how can you really know who is committed to overcoming adversity...when they've never experienced it? A lot of people can talk a big game, but wilt when the heat is on.

    Granted, it's known that others in the Cavs organization weren't in favor of Bennett. So we have justification to worry about how he evaluates, but whatever. There was no perfect option to be POBO.
    In the article I drew the Griffin quote from, there's a lot of discussion about the overall FO perspective on Bennett, and it seems that there was a group of 10 people who discussed whether to take Bennett with the #1 pick. The article (which is an excerpt from a book, I think?) says that 9 out of the 10 people voting were in favour of Bennett: only one guy had serious doubts.

    Perhaps that's one of the flaws in Griffin's 'family' mindset. Obviously all mindsets have some strengths and weaknesses, and maybe one of the weaknesses of this is the inability to go against mass opinion in the FO?

  12. #12
    To be faaaaaaahr.

    The 2013 draft was an awfully weird/weak draft. We can look back now and find some decent players and the Greek Freak at 15....but woooooof.

    I really like this start to his regime. We were looking like absolute losers before the higher and, like overnight, I turn on sports radio and national talking heads are speaking of us like we are a good franchise. IF that seeps down into the heads of free agents, we could actually look like a cool landing spot once we get some pieces from the AD trade. That jump in league respect was something I didn't think any hire could pull off. It has to actually translate into wins in the court. But very encouraging.

    Excellent post.

  13. #13

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