A DECADE AGO, NBA teams searching for an edge embraced new philosophies that injected the game with analytics. That pursuit is carrying on with an advancing new trend among forward-looking franchises.
Last season, when the Golden State Warriors -- owned by Joe Lacob, a partner at one of the nation's preeminent venture capital firms -- traded D'Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the deal was rather nakedly structured around betting against the Wolves' future.
The primary assets coming back: the Wolves' first- and second-round picks in the 2021 NBA draft. The Warriors are wagering that the first-rounder would not only be in the lottery of a draft projected to be deep with talent -- Minnesota has missed the playoffs in 15 of the past 16 years -- but that sending Russell would not change that direction.