The hiring of former Orlando Magic ‘statistical guru’ Charles Klask showed that the Pistons were interested in using advanced stats more than they have in the past. SI.com’s Zack Lowe reports even more seriousness from the team on that front:
It was not surprising to find representatives from the Thunder, Mavericks, Celtics and Rockets over the weekend the New England Symposium on Statistics and Sports, a delightfully geeky conference held every two years at Harvard. Those clubs have long been ahead of the curve in using advanced statistics to inform decisions across their organizations. They have all purchased fancy camera equipment that tracks every player’s movement in every game they host, and they could tell you all about (among many other things) adjusted plus/minus formulas that get at what player combinations actually work.
But there was some legitimate buzz among the NBA folks in attendance when they realized the Pistons, not exactly known as a stat-savvy bunch, had a representative attending a conference known mostly for the sophisticated math involved in the presentations.
Lowe talked to that representative, Robert Wentworth of Platinum Equity, who was also involved in interviewing coaching candidates. Wentworth told Lowe that the aim is to combine the use of stats with the basketball operations acumen Joe Dumars brings to the table:
The advanced stats just ought to be a part of your tool kit. It’s equally important to have really solid basketball people, and Joe Dumars has obviously been in this league for 25-plus years now. He has tremendous basketball intellect. But we’re just trying to make sure we use every tool in that took box, even if it means you just do a better job at finding that 8th, 9th or 10th guy.
I think that’s all most stats-inclined fans have asked for. In fact, I’ve read Ben Gulker of Detroit Bad Boys articulate basically that very thought several times: keep Dumars empowered as the face of your organization, but infuse the old methods of scouting with new, better metrics in the decision-making process. Then, hopefully, you don’t end up spending $20 million a year on limited shooting guards. Checks and balances are and evaluating decisions from different perspectives are always a good thing.