The most interesting take I got on Oden and Durant was from Danny Ainge's "brain doctor" Jon Niednagel, who is in Treviso "brain-typing" the various prospects.
Niednagel observes the players and assigns each player to one of 16 different brain types. According to Niednagel, some brain types are more prone to success in the NBA than others. Ainge uses brain-typing as a tool to narrow down the pool of prospects.
Niednagel said both Oden and Durant are excellent and will have bright futures in the NBA, but that the players they are often compared to, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan, respectively, aren't good matches in terms of brain-typing. According to Niednagel, Oden does not have Russell's brain type, and Durant doesn't have Jordan's.
Niednagel refused to say what brain types he believes they have, but neither, he said, has Jordan's coveted ISTP type.
There have been countless jokes made about Danny's reliance on the brain doctor and his name always comes up when discussions turn to draft picks or trades. But just who is this guy and what exactly is Brain Typing? Danny has come to depend on it in choosing players in the draft and in signing free agents. We have brain typing to thank for bringing Scal here since he has the same brain type as Michael Jordan and Scal depends on Dr Niednagel for advice himself. Kevin McHale also believes in Brain Typing and has used Dr Niednagel's services many times. As I understand it, Dr Niednagel is now under contract with the Celtics and no longer consulting with other teams. Danny has sought out Mr. Niednagel's advice going back to when he was with the Suns.
Jonathan P. Niednagel has a bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from California State University, Long Beach. Although born and raised in Missouri, he attended college and lived in Southern California for about 20 years during that area’s real estate boom. He made money in real estate and left that business before the real estate market caved. His also worked as a commodities broker during this time.
On a personal side, he loves to fish and is proud of his personal stance as a born-again Christian. Eventually, Mr. Niednagel began developing his entrepreneurial skills through marketing positive thinking material and promoting multilevel marketing.
In April 1997, Jonathan Niednagel became the president, CEO and co-founder of a company called Mobile Automation, Inc. (Mobile Automation, 2002). This company developed IT solutions for managing mobile devices such as laptops, palmtops and handheld PCs. He left the company in 1999.
Sometime in the late nineties, Mr. Niednagel came up with a new product based on his interest in Carl Jung and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). He self-published a new book entitled, Brain Typing: Gain an Uncanny, Razor-Sharp Understanding of Yourself and Everyone Around You.
Near the end of the 90s, Mr. Niednagel created an organization called the Brain Type Institute in Thornfield, MO. The purpose of this organization is to promote the business of selling his Brain Typing product. Although the name conjures a large building with highly trained staff and possible research facilities, it is an “institute” in name only. A phone call to the headquarters will either result in an answering machine message or a personal contact with Jonathan’s brother, Jeremy.
Brain Typing, which is being developed by Jonathan P. Niednagel, is an effort to create a typology that categorises individuals based on mental and motor skill patterns. Niednagel believes these patterns are based on inborn genetic traits.
Niednagel first concieved of the idea in the 1970s while coaching for little league. When observing the kids' baseball-playing tendencies, he noticed that those with similar personalities also had similar motor movement skills. After conducting extensive research, Niednagel fully developed the Brain Typing system and has since been promoting his Brain Typing skills as an asset to professional sports teams.
Here's how it works- Niednagel believes each person is born with one of 16 brain types. These types, also called brain wirings, or designs, are based on four basic pairs of psychological attributes.
E-extroverted versus I-introverted. S-sensing versus N-intuitive. T-thinking versus F-feelings. And J-judging versus P-perceiving. Thus, if you are extroverted, sensing, thinking, and perceiving, you'd be labeled an ESTP type.
There are 16 possible combinations or types. And each brain type, according to Niednagel, has inherent strengths and specific weaknesses. For Niednagel, those qualities are particularly apparent in sports.
Applied to sports, a player's brain type is viewed as a helpful predictor of how he will perform as a professional athlete.
"I believe in Jon's evaluation," said Ainge. "He's not 100 percent right. There's been times when I've been right and he's been wrong. There's been times when I question his overall conclusion. There's a lot that factors into success. [Brain typing] is just a measurement, one of a lot of things in the process.
"Not until I really like a player do I usually have Jon look at him. But he's not afraid of giving his opinion. He's passionate about his decisions and I like that. It's controversial for anybody who doesn't know [brain typing]. But I like Jon because of my history with him. I'm working with a guy I trust."
Another of his supporters is Brian Scalabrine. Brian has sought out Niednagel's advice on several occasions. According to Niednagel, Scal has an ideal basketball ISTP brain type with underwhelming athleticism. Scal feels he makes the most of his natural abilities and wiring by calling on the Brain Doctor. Scalabrine estimates that eight of his 10 best NBA performances followed pregame conversations with Niednagel, including Game 5 of the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals against Detroit. In the Nets' triple-overtime victory, Scalabrine set playoff career highs for points (17), 3-pointers made and attempted (4 for 4), and field goals made and attempted (6 for 7).
"Jon always can get me to a point where I can just go out there and do what I need to do," said Scalabrine. "I'm a spatial player. I can't just focus in on one thing. I have to take in everything around me. With that [information], I get into a zone. "I'll never play like Michael Jordan, but by learning about my brain type, I can maximize my own potential. That's what it's all about. Every time I'm struggling a little bit, I call Jon and he gets me back on track."
Judging by Scal's performance over the past 2 years in Boston, the Brain Doctor may be slipping.
There are many who doubt the validity of brain typing and of Dr Niednagel's research. When asked if brain typing helped his franchise, Phoenix president and general manager Bryan Colangelo said,
"Actually, it was somewhat counterproductive and proved divisive for us because of the doubt that existed on the staff. There were even a few players that questioned Jon's presence and role with the team."
Whether brain typing is science or guesswork, it is here to stay as long as Danny Ainge is the GM. I would say that his brain typing advice is about 50-50 at this point. It seems to have worked for our draft picks but has failed considerably when it comes to trades and free agents so far.