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Get the Best Talent and Get the Hell Out of the Way: What You Can Learn From the Cleveland Cavs...

On Monday, I shared a post titled Evolve and Hire Interchangeable Parts: What You Can Learn From the Golden State Warriors.  The post celebrated the fact that the Warriors have done the math on the impact of the 3 point shot in professional basketball and while constructing a roster of shooters, had also taken care of something just as important - having interchangeable parts that can switch everything on defense.

I wrote that post expecting Golden State to win the title at home on Monday night.  Of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers rode 80+ points from Lebron James and Kyrie Irving to win game 5 and send the series back to Cleveland.

Which begs the question - what can we learn as corporate talent pros from the Cleveland Cavaliers?

This:

  1. Hire the best talent and don't make it complicated.  When the Cavs are at their best, there's not a lot of ball movement - they have 2 transcendent players - James and Irving - and they didn't make it complex - they gave the ball to their best players and got the hell out of the way.
  2. Use your opponent's strategy, find weakness and make it work against them.  The Warriors had their best defender out for the game (Draymond Green on suspension) and the Cavs used the Warriors switching strategy against them - setting picks guarded by the least capable defenders, then letting James and Irving work against that defender 1-on-1.
  3. You probably can't avoid practicing something all year long and have it work when you need it most.  Lebron James has been a poor long distance shooter all year. He's capable, so it's obvious he hasn't put the time in. In game 5, he hit a lot of big shots. Is that a historically great player turning it on when it matters most or a statistical hiccup? History and math suggest it's a hiccup, so unless Lebron can repeat that for the next two games, it's unlikely that the Cavs can come back from down 3-1 to win the title.

But watching Kyrie work in premium mode for 40+ points was fun.  That's unlikely to work again.  But in a hat-tip to Irving, check out the composite video below of his moves in Game 5, plus an Uncle Drew video (his Nike campaign) for good measure (email subscribers click through for video and the ad)...

The best talent wins. But sometimes, the most talented player can beat a team with better overall talent.

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