COMMENTARY | When the Boston Celtics announced that Brad Stevens would be their next head coach, it was a complete surprise to many. The former Butler University coach was not really talked about in connection with the Boston job after Doc Rivers left for the Los Angeles Clippers, and Danny Ainge made it seem as if he wasn't in a rush to find a coach. Nobody was expecting the hire, and most of the basketball world was shocked to hear the news.
In Brad Stevens, the Celtics have an extremely intelligent coach. Some believe that Ainge is taking a bit of a risk here, as Stevens will now be the youngest coach in the NBA. Additionally, many are questioning his ability to properly transition from the NCAA to the NBA.
At Butler, Stevens became known partially for his intensive use of analytics in analyzing games and developing strategies. It has now been reported that Drew Cannon, the statistics man for Stevens at Butler, will be joining the Celtics in some capacity.
It has also been reported that when Danny Ainge made suggestions at using analytics a little more, Doc Rivers quietly seemed to disagree with the strategy.
We saw John Hollinger, a statistics geek who previously worked for ESPN, experience immediate success after being named Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies. Hollinger created PER, Player Efficiency Rating, which has become a widely used basketball analytic in recent years. When the Grizzlies did not offer Lionel Hollins a contract this offseason, many believed that it was partially due to his resistance in accepting the use of analytics. Many criticized Hollinger's use of analytics in deciding to trade Rudy Gay, although it appears that the team became a better, more efficient team following the deal.
It is clear that by hiring Brad Stevens and bringing Drew Cannon to the team, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics are joining the NBA's analytics movement.
Many who oppose the use of analytics in basketball claim that it's simply a way for those who don't know much about the game to justify their beliefs. This is the "old school" explanation of analytics, as it is was never much of a tool in the NBA years ago. While neither the "old school" or "new school" beliefs are necessarily right or wrong, it is foolish to completely throw away either.
After losing Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry, the Boston Celtics are clearly starting fresh. In Brad Stevens, they have the perfect coach to properly incorporate analytics. And Danny Ainge is smart to bring his team down this path.
Those who use analytics must also have a great understanding of the game to properly draw conclusions. Anyone can look at numbers, but it takes a smart basketball mind to interpret them. It is a great way to confirm what your eyes see, or to clear up something that might not be easy to pick up on by simply watching film. Analytics can be a huge help in figuring out the right shot selection, lineup combinations, etc.
Many will claim that the "eye test" is much more reliable. If you believe something to be true simply from watching, shouldn't the numbers confirm that belief?
Brad Stevens proved to be an unbelievable basketball mind at Butler. Danny Ainge made a great hire, and his choice to join the NBA's analytics movement is a smart one.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured onFox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports , and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Brad Stevens
- Danny Ainge
- Boston Celtics
- Doc Rivers
- Butler University