In this post-“Moneyball” era, many sports franchises have gone to great lengths to maximize their statistical focus, in some cases hiring journalists with a quantitative bent. Just last year, to much less fanfare, Jenkins’s friend Luke Winn left Sports Illustrated, where he’d covered college basketball, to fill a new position created by the Toronto Raptors—director of prospect strategy—that seems to combine old-fashioned scouting with the contemporary vogue for analytics. (“I probably picked up the phone ten times during this process, like, ‘I should call Luke right now,’ ” Jenkins told me. “But I didn’t. I didn’t want to seem like I was at the N.B.A. job fair.”) It stands to reason that there may now be comparative advantages, however small, to be gained from concentrated efforts to assess the intangibles with an outsider’s eyes: about the extent to which boys from chaotic households may become men who crave order in their daily routines, say, or about the predictive nature of automobile preferences.
September 22, 2021 | 9:43 pm EDT Update
“I talked to Steph Curry a couple weeks ago, and I was asking him about young players he might have reached out to and guess who he said?” Jackie MacMullan remarked. “Darius Garland, Darius Garland, he loves Darius Garland a lot, a lot, a lot. He thinks that kid is gonna be a flat-out star.”