I generally avoid addressing anything about numbers or Dave Berri, at least not without consulting Silverbird for hours ahead of time. However, the "Future NBA Stars" post on the WoW site rang too fallic for me not to ditch caution. As is well known, this worldview involves a very specific model of quality basketball; for teams to win in today's NBA, they would do well to conserve positions, not take risks, etc. Yet when Berri sees bright futures for players who are out of the league (or by no means secure in it), an important line hath been crossed. The list of "distant future stars" includes James Singleton, currently in Europe (and injured, which is neither here nor there) and Hassan Adams, who very well might not make the Cavs roster. In the comments section, DB offers the following lament on behalf of Singleton:
Too bad about Singleton. He really was a good NBA player. Unfortunately, what he does that is good is not valued as high as it might be in the NBA.
The NBA is, above all else, a context. To win a game, teams must compete again other extant teams, according to the rules of the game and within the limits of the law. By extension, it's tenuous to label someone "a good NBA player" when the entire league has rejected him. Players out of the league are not NBA players; with very few exceptions, those capable of making a lasting contribution to a team end up on someone's roster.
Maybe certain skills are unfairly ignored, but if a person is capable of impacting a professional basketball game, someone will sign him. Case in point: Look how infrequently we see guys jump from the minor leagues or a forced Euro vacation to some semblance of NBA stability. There are a host of teams, with a host of philosophies, able to look at would-be pros. If all of them pass, that has to count for something. There are players in the league adept at "what he does," or else there would be no "what he does" relevant to the question of NBA competition. Thus, one cannot say it's undervalued—i.e. a part of the league—while insisting that Singleton's exclusion indicates a systemic blind spot. Neglect is one thing, negation another.
What seems to be happening here is the shift toward "what basketball should be like." Not "what teams can do to win in today's league," but "the perfect version of the game." The league has no use for Singleton; saying it should is akin to telling it to change. I would love it if everyone played like Phoenix or Golden State, but when I seriously break down a game I acknowledge that this isn't the case. Similarly, advocating for players rejected by the league is, in effect, not a real statement about the National Basketball Association. To explain why bad teams falter and good teams soar is a valid project. I don't, however, see the use in going against the entire NBA, as if the world would be a better place if Singleton had a place in the league.