Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football

By Wayne Winston | Go to book overview

32
ANALYZING TEAM AND
INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPS

A mong other things, a successful coach must be a master psychologist who can motivate players to play for the team rather than themselves (there is “no I in team”; “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”). A great coach must have sound offensive and defensive strategies and get the players to buy into executing his strategic concepts. Great coaches also have excellent insight as to which players to put in a game at a given time to best match up with the opponent's lineup. Recall from chapter 30 that we have Adjusted + /— ratings for each NBA player. We can also break down each player's Adjusted + /— by opponent. This helps coaches determine how to match their players up with those of their opponents.


Spurs-Mavericks 2006 Western Conference Semifinal

The Dallas Mavericks' surprising journey to the NBA finals during the 2006 playoffs provides a great illustration of how useful the team- by- team breakdown of Adjusted + /— can be. Few analysts gave the Mavs any chance against the world champion Spurs. A key coaching move during this series was the insertion of guard Devin Harris into the starting lineup in place of Adrian Griffin. This surprise decision enabled the Mavs to “steal” game 2 at San Antonio, and the Mavs went on to win the series in seven games by winning an overtime thriller game 7 at San Antonio. Team- by- team Adjusted + /— ratings were an important factor in making this coaching decision. Devin Harris's overall 2005–6 rating was —2.1 points and his Impact rating was — 15%. Against the Spurs, Harris's point rating was + 9.4 points and his Impact rating was + 8%. Against the Spurs, Griffin had a —5 point rating and — 18% Impact rating. More important, Griffin had a + 18 points offense rating. This indicates that against the Spurs, Griffin devastated the Mavs' offense. Given these data, it seems clear that Harris should have started in lieu

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