When it comes to the NBA, there is no moment in the sport quite like the draft of new players into the league. It hardly looks like basketball—everyone is wearing their best suits, and no one is shooting any hoops. And yet it only takes a minute to realize that the decisions being made at the draft will shape every single game that will be played in the future. Because it is at the draft that two big things come together.
The towering young giants who are coming into the NBA represent the first great aspect of the draft—potential. These are the best of the best, the ones who have shown the greatest talent, demonstrated incredible skill, provided outstanding leadership. But it is not just THEIR potential that is in evidence. It’s what happens when that potential is combined with the strengths and needs of a team that you can really begin to see the possibilities. The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t choose Karl-Anthony Towns because he can win games by himself. They chose him because of what he brings to the team and how it recasts their overall vision for the future. The potential created by the various draft picks is the fuel for how teams imagine, strategize, and build their futures.
And that brings me to the other big thing on display at the draft: commitment. Signing a player like Towns is a huge commitment from the Timberwolves—and not just financial. Virtually every aspect of their organization will be impacted by this new commitment. Until the choice was made, it was just a matter of potential. But once there was a commitment, everything changed. Suddenly the way forward becomes plain and the course is set. Commitment eliminates some opportunities in favor of realizing the potential of others. Things imagined begin to be things realized.
The NBA Draft gives the rest of us the opportunity to look in on an industry—professional basketball—at one of its highest moments of both potential and commitment. And it also offers us a chance to reflect on those elements within our own lives and work.
Each new day brings with it the potential for great things to happen. But none of that potential will mean anything at all if it isn’t acted on—and that’s the commitment part. Sometimes we see this process on a grand scale—like the draft. But mostly it is a lot more ordinary—as when we check off the things on our work list, or follow through on a resolution, or begin a long anticipated journey.
Potential + Commitment. An unstoppable combination.