Coach Pop may be a covert stat geek
Gregg Popovich is a simple man. He likes fine wine and defensive basketball. On the surface, his gruff demeanor gives the impression that he has little time for the Scott Seredays of this world.
Or so we thought.
Before the Spurs’ 109-84 win over the New Orleans Hornets, Coach Pop was holding court for a few minutes in the innards of the AT&T Center in his typical (and league-mandated) fashion. One of the gathered writers asked Coach Pop about the continuing use of DeJuan Blair in the starting lineup.
“He’s finding his way. He’s trying to figure out where to be in relation to everybody else,” Coach Pop said. “With all those crazy stats people do these days, that group comes out a big plus. It’s hard to argue with it.”
Who are you and what have you done with Gregg Popovich?
This Bizarro Coach Pop is right. Both 82games.com and Basketballvalue.com have the Spurs’ starting lineup of DeJuan Blair with Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson as one the team’s most effective lineups.
To be fair, though,Â lineups featuring McDyess instead of Blair and Bonner instead of Blair and also very effective. So the foundation for excellence could be determined more by the other four players than Blair, but that doesn’t change the fact that the lineup featuring Blair is statistically excellent.
The Spurs have advanced stats guys on the payroll. But I never in my wildest imagination thought that Gregg Popovich would listen to them. I was told that the only stat he cared about was field goal percentage. What are they shooting? What are we shooting?
But by his own admission, Pop at least hears what is said to him regarding other statistics. And in this case, he uses it to justify keeping DeJuan Blair in the starting lineup.
Next thing we know, Jerry Sloan — the oldest of the old-school — will be talking about Al Jefferson’s effective field goal percentage. Then there’s nothing to stop the statistical revolution from taking over.