The Real Story of the NBA Finals

In an era where franchises routinely make blockbuster trades or sign marquee names in free agency to improve their rosters, the Warriors and Celtics have reached the pinnacle of their sport with overwhelmingly homegrown talent.

The NBA Finals are tied at a game apiece — and while the Celtics' toughness and the Warriors' shot making may be the hot topics on social media, there’s a far more relevant lesson in this series for us as leaders.  

Of the 10 starting players on Boston and Golden State, eight were drafted by their current team. Three of these were selected with the 25th pick or later in their respective drafts.

In an era where franchises routinely make blockbuster trades or sign marquee names in free agency to improve their rosters, the Warriors and Celtics have reached the pinnacle of their sport with overwhelmingly homegrown talent.

"What I like is it's two teams that are mostly built with patience and through the draft and development, player development and continuity. I think that's good for the sport," Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said before the series.

The roster construction is undoubtedly a testament to the front offices for their ability to scout and evaluate players out of college. But it’s also a credit to the coaching staffs for playing the long game — prioritizing skill development and personal growth over the years to elevate their franchises.

Far too often, we as leaders look for shortcuts to build our teams. We concentrate on external evaluations, rankings, LinkedIn pages and various other lists to find personnel we feel can address a void and take our group to the next level.

Sometimes these methods work, but too often, we simply identify talent without properly vetting the cultural fit. Then, we become perplexed when somebody who achieved elsewhere isn’t producing at the same level for us.  

As leaders, we have to be cognizant of the fact that present talent and past achievement aren’t always the best predictors of future success and frequently aren’t the most critical elements of team composition.

There are inherent values to instead doing our due diligence on prospects, then molding them over several months or even years to fit our specific needs.

A case can be made that there are more talented rosters across the league than the Celtics and the Warriors, but few at present seem to have the pieces and pervasive buy-in of their current players.   

Improvement and sustained achievement commonly require:

1. A well-conceived vision
2. A thorough vetting of potential candidates
3. Relentless internal development to address existing holes

In the next week, one of these teams will stand at midcourt hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy as confetti pours down.

But the key takeaway for us shouldn’t be “the league’s best shooters continue to forge their legacy“ or “persistence pays off as young talent reaches its potential.”

It’s that thorough assessment and concentrated internal growth can still be the most effective ways to get to the top.

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