Thursday, June 13, 2013

Unsolved Mysteries: NBA Edition #7

It seems only fitting that we examine question 7 of Kevin Pelton's 10 questions.

Question 7:  What role does coaching play in the success of teams and players?

The entire NBA nation might say a tremendous role since the Spurs' Popovich has shut down Lebron James with his "I dare you to shoot jumpers" defense.  So far, the King has been dethroned. 

Very little analytical work has been conducted on coaches, as pointed out by Pelton.  Coach tenures are very short in the NBA with the exception of several notables.  Next to Popovich (1996) and Doc Rivers (2004), the longest tenured coaches in the NBA are Spoelstra, Carlisle and Brooks since 2008.  Each of these coaches have made the NBA Finals. 

This fact alone shows some merit that the success of teams may rely on coaching.  However, are the players growing?  Are they getting better under direction?  Or do these teams just have good players?

Analytically, I do not see the value in pursuing this question.  Every coach approaches the game differently and every player accepts coaching advice in a different manner.  The key is finding the right coach that fits the system in place (Spoelstra is a decent candidate) or building a system around the right coach (Doc and Popovich). 

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