From the Department of Good Timing (via Hardwood Paroxysm):
"It’s really important for the coaches to design schemes around the data," said Zarren. "But it’s not important for the players to know everything that went into designing it."
The goal should be to integrate the analysis into the overall coaching philosophy, but for many players — some of which can’t even remember the plays they are supposed to run — advanced stats are not something that can be used to change the way they play.
"We had Gerald Green," said Cuban, with a glance over towards Zarren. "You had Green. He does stuff [athletically] that makes you say ‘Oh my God!’ … He just doesn’t understand the game of basketball."
Offering further evidence of the difficulty in putting any of this into the players hands, Cuban talked about the logistical problems presented by the arduous schedule of the NBA season. "We haven’t had a practice since the trade," he said in reference to the deal that brought Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood to the Mavs.
Last night the Wolves gave their two worst players (Pavs and Hollins) more minutes than their best player, Kevin Love. Granted, Love did not have his best game, but a) he's still a young player and should be afforded at least as much leeway as someone like Jonny Flynn, and b) it should be obvious by this point that Love affects the game above and beyond what can be found in a basic box score.
Whether it's adjusted +/-, PER, or a Roland Rating, Love comes out near the top of his team's performance ratings because of the way he affects the team's 5 man rotations. His upper echelon rebounding allows his fellow teammates to run out in transition on the defensive glass; his ability to run the pick and roll opens up perimeter players in the 1/2 court; his hustle on the offensive glass extends numerous possessions; and so on and so forth.
Even when he is having a bad game, as was the case in last night's contest, he affords his team a chance to play at even or slightly above average in terms of 5 man +/-. This is especially the case when you consider who he is being replaced with. Last night, the Mavs went to a zone defense early on and this meant that the Wolves ran out a combo forward rotation more than they typically would have. It meant extended doses of Pavlovic and Gomes. It meant that they would have to adjust on the fly and figure out personnel combos that would give the team the best chance at success.
Unfortunately for the Wolves and their fans, it appears that no adjustments were made and there was a profound lack of creativity in how the team responded to the Mavs' zone defense. Instead of putting Kevin Love at the free throw line and attempting to run the offense through the center of the Dallas zone d, the Wolves continued to...well, it wasn't really clear what they were trying to do. Whatever it was, it didn't work and we were treated to a panoply of wild shots and no organized response to the obvious Dallas defensive decision.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Wolves this season has been watching the team's rotations devolve into something that apparently has no connection to its players' strengths or even a stated coaching philosophy. While the coaching staff is to be lauded for its development of guys like Corey Brewer, Wayne Ellington, and Kevin Love, it is often baffling to watch Rambis roll out rotations that are, most charitably, less than optimal. There is no reason on god's green earth why Kevin Love should get less than 15 minutes of burn, no matter how poorly he is playing. There is no reason on god's green earth why Pavlovic should get as much burn as he got last night. There is no reason on god's green earth why the team should look so discombobulated against a simple zone defense. At some point, these things start to add up and it becomes harder and harder for fans to believe that this coaching staff is giving the squad its best chance to win on a night-in/night-out basis. We're not at Wittman-levels of despair, but it's slowly starting to build up into a gigantic WTF?! moment. It's during games like this where you really have to wonder about the direction of this franchise. Where is the coordination between coaching philosophy and player performance? Where is the creativity? Where is the rolling with the punches? None of it seems to be making much sense of late. We need to see more of what the Mavs are doing vis-a-vis stats and rotations and less of what we have seen from our favorite squad over the course of the season.