Monday, June 13, 2011

NBA Finals 2011: The Aftermath

Normally, I wouldn't have much to say after an NBA Championship, but I can't resist bringing up a few interesting points.

1) Dallas Coaching Staff Includes a Stat Geek

I can't believe I didn't know this, but ESPN led me to discover that one of the members of their coaching staff is the founder of, Roland Beech. This is his 2nd season on Dallas. Officially, Roland Beech is listed as the "director of basketball analytics." is the first basketball website that I became aware of, maybe 5 years ago, that had "advanced" stats or non-traditional stats. Beginning with plus/minus, moving to efficiency, and even getting into win-shares, the advanced stats do a lot more to signify and explain in numbers what a player's impact is on the game (aside from just his shooting percentage). I wasn't sure how involved Beech is with the team, but apparently, according to ESPN's TrueHoop, Beech is involved in all film sessions and practices. This is a stunning and welcome development in my opinion. The fact that Dallas won an NBA championship with such a person involved in brain trust will probably cause similar positions to become available on other teams (outside of Houston, which is widely known to hire a number of statisticians).

2) Rick Carlyle Dominated The Playoffs and the Zone Defense is a Big Reason

I can't say enough about how great a job Rick Carlyle did this postseason. I really enjoyed watching his Indiana teams pre-Artest brawl (with Artest, J. O'Neal, S. Jackson). After the brawl, the Indiana team ended up getting rid of assets (Artest, S. Jackson) for nothing, and everything fell apart and Carlyle got fire eventually... but I always thought it wasn't exactly his fault and with a talented team he would be successful again. Carlyle is in the minority in the NBA in that he will employ zone defenses at times throughout the regular season and even in the playoffs. I think the different looks he provided with his zone really threw off the rhythm that LeBron and Wade had in this playoffs. Of course, it does help that he has the right personnel to do the system (relatively mobile big men, and a great defensive center tandem in Chandler and Haywood). However, I am excited for other teams to start copying Dallas to some degree and try to employ their own zone defenses. This championship represents a real positive for the league in that regard I believe. It's interesting in that zone defenses became legal in 2001-2002... but it took this long for a team to win a championship and be praised for its zone defense. Link
3) LeBron Needs a Sports Psychologist

I'm not going to delve too far into the thicket of LeBron talking points (because there are many, and there are many opinions). I really rooted against him this year but mainly because I did not want the trio to just believe that the 3 of them alone with a bunch of spare parts could win a championship immediately. I don't intend on rooting against LeBron again like I did this year (though I won't root for him). I think the adversity will be good for LeBron especially and their championship day is inevitable... but they still need another capable guard and big man (plus LeBron probably needs to see a sports psychologist after this series). If you want to read a great little article on LeBron, I really like Rosenberg's on Sports Illustrated, as he hopes LeBron learns humility.

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