With much respect to The Geto Boys, our minds play tricks on us. I read an interesting article recently that talked about the Brooklyn Nets, and how they did a deep dive into the “misses” they had in the draft. The biggest factor in the draft mistakes that they made was they they fell in love with the person they were drafting, and inflated his value.
Charisma. That is what charmed them, and it made them think more highly of the player. Because they liked him. And it led to their biggest mistakes.
So often when we are evaluating we see what we want to see. The mind literally does play tricks on us. Confirmation bias is a real thing.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values. People tend to unconsciously select information that supports their views, but ignoring non-supportive information.
We look for, favor and recall the information that supports our already existing views, and we ignore the information that we don’t agree with. I was fascinated to see that the Nets discovered this and admitted it. They were overvaluing charisma, character and the stuff the liked about the people the drafted. And it affected what they saw on the court.
It’s so easy as coaches to put the players we coach and recruit into a box. We create a narrative about them based upon what we think we see, and then we look for the information to support it. If we go watch a recruit we really like on film, we pick out the things that he does well and ignore the other stuff. If he went 3-13 we ignore it because he defended, he was vocal, and he helped the team in other ways. If he turned the ball over too much we say he was trying to make plays for his teammates. I’ve caught myself doing it a number of times on the road.
We have to be aware of the way our mind works, and the way it affects our ability to evaluate, as coaches. It’s more important when watching our own team. If we label a kid as a lazy, immature freshman who we don’t think is good enough, he’ll have a hard time getting out of that box. We’ll magnify the things he does wrong and continue to reinforce them in our own mind. He won’t be able to get away with any mistakes, but we’ll label the same mistakes by the kid we like as “aggressive.”
The Nets were making mistakes because they were taking kids they liked. They put them in a high character box, and it influenced what they thought about them as players. That is fascinating to me. We all see what we want to see, and we have to check ourselves on that as a coach.