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To be a director of player development in the NBA takes a wide variety of skills. With only thirty positions available in the league, securing such a position is a hard and daunting task. Furthermore, the visibility of a NBA team is on display for the public to criticize, and the front office is quite often the target of many critics for a floundering team. These individuals work long hours and must possess myriad skills to be successful, but are handsomely rewarded for their work - though the details are typically not revealed to the public.
As a director of player development, the new hire must have an eye for talent and for improvement. They need to be able to recognize raw talent in any league, whether in college or overseas. More importantly, they need to possess the people skills and coaching skills necessary to bring these potential players into the mix of a NBA franchise, and enable them to become a successful component of the team.
Duties of Director of Player Development
The biggest duty for a director of player development is mentoring and looking after the younger and newer members of the team. The new members of the team are, generally, most in need of development; they have to adapt to the league, prepare for the long season and learn the team playbook and schemes. In addition, younger players are also learning how to live as an adult or on their own for the first time. In a lot of cases, having a former player in the role who has faced these same hurdles and obstacles is beneficial to the younger players.
The most recent hires for NBA franchises to this position have been first-time hires. In 2009, the Portland Trail Blazers named 13-year veteran player-turned broadcaster Hersey Hawkins to the position, while the Miami Heat did the same with former center Alonzo Mourning. These positions normally start at $200,000 to $300,000 per year, while their bosses -- general managers -- normally start north of $500,000.
Successful Directors of Player Development
Generally, individuals who are successful in this position do not stay in the role for more than a couple of years. Generally, they are snatched up by other teams or promoted internally to General Manager roles. The pay for those roles starts around $700,000, though some of the more successful ones, such as Pat Riley or Mitch Kupchak, can have salaries reaching as high as $5 million.
Michael Francis's political writing has been cross-referenced on numerous websites, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, RedState.com and the Orange County Register. He also writes for the Atlanta Hawks and has had his work linked to or referenced by ESPN, SBNation.com, Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated. He holds a Master of Business Administration in Computer and information systems.