clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Downbeat #1276: The Valentine's Day Edition

Happy Valentine's Day. Lets talk Jazz analytics, Valentines' Day and the Jazz Mount Rushmore!

We all know that the NBA spent a substantial amount of money installing sportsvu in every NBA arena.

Using six cameras installed in the catwalks of every NBA arena, SportVU software tracks the movements of every player on the court and the basketball 25 times per second. The data collected provides a plethora of innovative statistics based around speed, distance, player separation and ball possession.

We all know that analytics are the way that NBA is headed. The league would not have assured that every NBA team was set up with sportsvu if they weren't. This offseason the NBA paid for every last remaining team to have sportsvu in their areans. The Jazz were one of the teams who had to have the NBA pay to have sportsuv installed in their arena.

Analytics are so important that some coaches have lost their jobs because they did not support it.

Lionel Hollins went out of his way to denigrate the role of statistics in basketball, and the Memphis Grizzlies let him go.

That likely wasn’t a direct cause and effect, but it undoubtedly played a part. It’s quite possible, had Hollins been more open to analytics, he’d still be coaching the Grizzlies.

Instead, he lost his seven-figure job and has not found a replacement.

Understandably, coaches are worried – especially the coaches who, like Hollins, don’t like using numbers.were one of the last teams who did not pay for sportsvu themselves.

A new guard in NBA executives (from the Washington post before the 2013-2014 season began)

While the NBA has a history of tapping former players to lead front offices, it begins this season with 21 general managers who never played the game professionally. Fourteen of the past 15 GM hires have been non-players, and most are widely praised for embracing analytics.

The new crop of execs are salary-cap savvy, highly invested in technology and devour all types of data. None pretends numbers hold all the answers; they all insist analytics are just another tool in the decision-making process.

Building an NBA team is a chess match (from the same Washington post article)

Building a team is akin to staring at a chessboard, and the modern-day GM has to think several moves ahead.

The Rockets didn’t land all-star guard James Harden overnight. Officials there count 14 different roster moves that cleared salary cap space, freed up money and paved the way to welcome Harden via a trade last season.

To better understand value, teams rely on statistics that didn’t exist a few years ago, metrics like effective field goal percentage (which weights three-point attempts differently), points per possession (rather than points per game), rebounding percentage (the percentage of rebounds a player grabs while on the court) and Player Efficiency Rating (a catch-all stat that aims to capture a player’s overall production).

That last metric — PER — was developed by Hollinger when he was at ESPN and has altered how some players are regarded. While the numbers validate that some superstars, such as LeBron James or Kevin Durant, are good at what they do, they also reveal that others, such as Rudy Gay, Brandon Jennings and Ricky Rubio, might not be as impactful as the traditional box score suggests.

Statics and analytics isn't just a fad. They are becoming absolutely vital when building and a coaching a team.

Here are a list of teams that employ basketball analytics professionals or work statistical consultants


Boston Celtics:

Mike Zarren (Assistant General Manager & Team Counse), David Lewin (Scooting Coordinator), Drew Cannon


Brooklyn Nets:

Milton Lee (Director of Basketball Operations), Scott Sereday (Statistical Analyst)

Charlotte Bobcats:

Jason Rosenfeld (Manager of Basketball Analytics)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

Jon Nichols (Director of Analytics) Benjamin C. Alamar (Senior Analytics Consultant and Data Engineer)

Dallas Mavericks:

Roland Beech, (Director of Basketball Analytics, a.k.a "The Stats Coach")

Denver Nuggets:

Detroit Pistons:

Kenneth Catanella (Director of Basketball Operations), Charles Klask (Statistics Coach)

Golden State Warriors:

Kirk Lacob (Assistant General Manager)

Houston Rockets:

Daryl Morey (General Manager), Ed Kupfer (Consultant), Eli Witus (Basketball Operations Analyst), Monte McNair

(Basketball Operations Analyst)

Indiana Pacers:

Spencer Anderson (Consultant)

Los Angeles Lakers:

Rudy Tomjanovich (Statistical Analyst and Consultant), Trey Tomjanovich (Software Provider)

Memphis Grizzlies:

John Hollinger (Vice President of Basketball Operations)

Miami Heat:

Bob Chaikin (Basketball Analyst)

Milwaukee Bucks:

Michael Clutterbuck (Director of Basketball Analytics)

New York Knicks:

Mike Smith (Director of Analytics and Pro Scout)

Oklahoma City:

Jesse Weinstein-Gould (Basketball Information Coordinator)

Wynn Sullivan (Basketball Data Analyst)

Orlando Magic:

Analytics work is now being operated by basketball operations staff. Charles Klark has worked for Magic as

Scouting Information Manager for 2 years.

Philadelphia 76ers:

Sam Hinkie (GM), Aaron Barzilai (Quantitative Analyst)

Phoenix Suns:

Steve Ilardi (Analytics Consultant), Jeremias Engelmann (Basketball Operations Analyst), Eddie Kendralla

(Manager, Business Analytics), Ken Borkan (Business Analyst)

Portland Trail Blazers:

Ben Falk (Basketball Analytics Manager),

Jeff Ma (Consultant), Ryan Parker (Statistical Analyst)

San Antonio Spurs:

Gabe Farkas (Director of Basketball Analytics)

Toronto Raptors:

Alex Rucker (Consultant), Keith Boyarsky (Consultant)

Washington Wizards:

Bob Bellotti (Consultant), Joe Sill (Consultant),

Ryan Saunders (Assistant Coach/Statistical Analysis)

No Utah Jazz. Here is what the Jazz media feel about analytics (via Moni)

On how analytics lead to selfish play
Harpring: I’m just a fan of, Boler, team basketball. You know, I like when guys help each other out. You know, this analytics game that everyone talks about, and I think it’s factored, has gone down now to the players. And I think the agents talk about it now too, and say, "Hey, if you want money in the off-season, you gotta give me numbers."

Thurl Bailey, asked to weigh in on analytics
Bailey: You know, I like it somewhat. I like it to the point that you know what the numbers are. I don’t buy into it totally. But you were talking about Philly’s team and the style that they play.

I think there might be a little argument or some theory about, you know, a team like Philly wanting to get a good draft pick, obviously, and the style of basketball they play is kinda geared towards that. Not that they’re trying to tank on purpose, but you know, it’s hard to win the way that they play.

But you could tell, with the Jazz, that there’s structure to it, and guys are really trying…

So, I like analytics. I like to read the numbers and know the stats. But I don’t buy totally into it.

I don't agree with Matt. I don't think that using analytics makes players or teams selfish.

We all hope Dennis Lindsey is changing that and it seems like we have heard he is (from the national media, and things he has said in past interviews ) So maybe its only when Ty is here that the Jazz have to be against it.

Frank Layden was interviewed on 1280 yesterday. (Moni sent me these quotes from the interview) He didn't really have nice things to say about the current Jazz players. Frank on the talent of this team:

How would you react to management's plan if you were Tyrone Corbin?
Well, I'd want a raise. I'd want a new contract. Yeah, because he's gonna be the guy that, you know, do they guarantee that when they lose, they're not gonna fire him? You know, I mean, every coach wants good players, and when you
get good players, you'll win. Nobody can win with bad players. I mean, he's done as well as you can do, with the team that he has.

Sometimes I wonder what the players feel when they hear of such interviews. I also wonder what their agents think. I know I would feel NO loyalty whatsoever if the organization I worked for talked about me the way the Jazz media and Jazz brass talk about current Jazz players.

More Frank on the Jazz

But I don't see, other than going to the draft, or making some tremendous purchase of a free agent, how this team is going to necessarily get a lot better, than maybe the steps they already were taking. You know, I was a little surprised.
On whether Favors and Kanter can carry the team:
I think we will, it remains to be seen, you know, if the Jazz draft the next Oscar Robinson [sic], and he comes in and leads them to the promised land, then it'll all look like they were geniuses. If they don't do that, and maybe some of the guys they do have, well, some of them were older anyway, are gonna not be part of this, or do they ever get, you know, to where they are so good that they can carry the team--I'm talking about a [Enes] Kanter or a [Derrick] Favors or what have you, you know, then I really don't know.

They've got to keep the core and they have got to get lucky in the draft, or they've got to come up with some big bucks to get a very, very good free agent.

I like Frank Layden a lot. I think he has an amazing basketball mind. I think he is hilarious and before Larry and Jerry, he carried and saved the Jazz.

I know the Jazz are not telling Frank what to say. I do wonder however if there is pressure from Frank, Jerry whoever is talking to say what they think the Jazz FO and media want to hear. I do think its great that they are brining back Frank for interviews, that they honored Jerry (which was long overdue) that they are once again brining back and recognizing the past. After Jerry left we all know how taboo to talk about the past up until this season. I love the movement to honor and learn from the past. I however would love it more if interviews weren't conducted with leading questions, and without all the PR propaganda. Let Frank be Frank. Let Jerry be Jerry. Let Dennis, Randy and whoever else say what they want. Yes I know its not scripted. I do however believe its guided though through talking points, and leading questions.

Gordon Monson gave Jazz players grades at the All Star Break . Gordon only graded the players he saw as the "bedrock of the Jazz's future"

Here are the grades he gave the players. Check out his article for the reasoning.

Derrick Favors- B

Trey Burke- B-

Gordon Hayward- C-

Alec Burks - B+

Enes Kanter- Incomplete

Jeremy Evans- B

Rudy Gobert- A-

Do you agree with Monson's grades? How would you grade the Jazz players so far into this season? What about the coaching staff and the FO?

I love Valentine's Day. I have always loved Valentine's Day. I just love having a day to honor love and friendship. I also love it because Moni creates the BEST Jazz Valentines. This year Moni really outdid herself. Moni made 16 AMAZING cards. Here are a few of my favorites (including the cover photo for the DB). Which are your favorites? If you haven't checked them out go now and check them out. Check them out here!




Seriously go see the rest. Moni made 16 of these gems!

SB Nation is asking the blogs to create a Mount Rushmore for their teams. Among writers at SLC Dunk we decided on our four. Larry, Jerry, John and Karl.

Who are on your Jazz Mount Rushmore?

Some different Mount Rushmores for the Jazz....

Pre Stockton to Malone era Mount Rushmore

Crazy Jazz Goofballs Mount Rushmore

Washed up Vets who got too many minutes Mount Rushmore

Worst end of quarter possession Mount Rushmore (has to be lead by Jason Hart right?)

You get the idea. Name your Jazz Mount Rushmores, serious and crazy in the comment section :)