Pachinko_ wrote:I didn't really expect Argentina to have USA type talent production, just 2-3 good players in the span of 10-15 years. Usually what happens when you have a massive success at national level people get excited, kids start playing the sport, there is exposure and focus. You can see the excitement, Argentinians love and follow their team and everybody was nearly in tears at Manu's last game.
But are they not playing basketball?
Greece is going through a massive crisis as well for the last 8 years, yet during that time they have a draft pick every year including the Antetokoumbos, with 1/4 of the population of Argentina. The Greek league suffered because of the crisis because it takes many millions to keep high profile players, but the talent production does not require as big a financial investment. Basket, ball, gym, lots of passion for the game.
I think the problem that is difficult to grasp is how few people there are of a certain height in a given country.
For how rare it is to find a 6-6 or over guy by country:https://tall.life/height-percentile-calculator-age-country/
To figure out how many 20 something males live in any countryhttp://populationpyramid.net/greece/2016/
Total number of 6-6 or over Argentine males who are in their 20s: 939
Same for Greece: 1343
Note these estimates are simplified. For a subset of the population of a certain ethnicity, height may be much more common. This would result in an underestimation of the number of tall people. This is almost certainly the case, but for the sake of discussion let's say its way estimated because there are a lot of Germans/Italians in Argentina and the real number is 2000.
Of 2000 people every ten years, half of those people probably can not walk and chew gum at the same time and/or have zero interest. That leaves 1000 people. Assume they all play the equivalent of HS level basketball. In the US, 1% of high school players progress to NCAA DI. For 6-6 and overs it's closer to 3%. For shorter guys, it's more like 1 in 250. You're down to 30 tall Argentines. Fewer than 5% of D1 players 6-6 and over even get at least a cup of coffee in the NBA. So of that 30, you would expect 1-2 every ten years...assuming they don't go to Europe...or that they're better than a short stint type of player that gets tossed on a roster because the coaches are familiar with him because he played at X University down the road and they need a body on a short term contract.
Talent ebbs and flows are in many ways down to luck. Especially when the odds of producing 1 decent player require a pretty large pool that itself is hard to find. That's why I used the soccer example. Soccer doesn't have the physical limitations that pro basketball imposes on its player pool. 90% of the population fits into the general physical makeup of the sport before you even begin to look at skill/athleticism rather than 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000 type people in basketball. This means that a tiny country like Belgium has a soccer pool that is hundreds of times bigger than Argentina's basketball pool. Yet Belgium in the last 30 years has shown very little consistency in their production of soccer players over time. About 30 years ago, they were good. Then the sucked for about 10-15 years. Now they are good again. They have many more potential players for that sport than Argentina does basketball, so you would think the talent stream would be fairly consistent, but it still varies quite a bit.
Then there's the problem of who these players are going up against if they are younger. They need competition to develop, but if competition is thin in the jr. ranks, then they need to get it playing grown men. Maybe they aren't physically ready. Or maybe because many of the best grown men who came up when Argentina was rising left for the US, they don't have elite sr players to learn from in practice. Someone who forces them to become better than they realized they could be.
Which brings us to Greece. Despite its smaller population, it still has roughly the same number of big kids who might be best suited to pro basketball. Their domestic sr. players aren't on average as good...at least not 10 years ago when the current mid-20s players were coming up. But they have the advantage of a)EU passports to allow players to move freely to other areas and b) proximity of other basketball regions whether or not they are in the EU. A selection of good Greek kids can play Serbs, Croatians, Turks, Russians, Lithuanians, Italians, Spaniards in tournaments. These are short/inexpensive flights of four hours or less. There are more opportunities for younger players to "find their level" to help them reach their potential. Where can Argentines go for competition within 4 hours of Buenos Aires by air?
There's also the issue of competition among other sports for shorter players suited for guard positions. Soccer is number 1 in Greece, but it's not nearly as crazy about the sport as the average soccer first country. Basketball is a strong #2. Argentina is soccer first, but much more crazy for the sport than the average soccer first country. Rugby is also big. And their pro basketball clubs don't occupy the same level of importance as they do in Greece.
The player pipeline in Argentina today is probably uncharacteristically poor, but the glory days were something of a fluke.