Monday, January 19, 2009

At Center Court with Brett Hainline

Brett Hainline is the man over at Queen City Hoops, the best place on the net for Bobcats analysis. In addition to keeping close tabs on the Cats, Brett also manages a kick ass stats page--it includes Spurs stats, o ye faithful. Clamor on over. Brett and I discuss Popovich, Brown, and some other stuff below.

TV: Your recent piece entitled Defending a Bobcats Defense was tremendous. The Bobcats are on the come up since the Richardson trade, and, based on your numbers, Diaw's defense is a contributing factor. I'm guessing Larry Brown (who I assume pushed for the trade) did not run your fancy pants numbers before saying, "yeah, get me Bell and Diaw." To what extent do you believe veteran coaches and GMs can intuit the sort of stuff your data shows?
BH: I think coaches and GMs see enough basketball to tell who forces their man into tough shots, who gambles too much on defense, and who does a good job defending the pick and roll. But coaches have put Kobe on the All-Defensive teams 8 times, despite his sometimes flagging interest at the end of the court (before the Royal Order of Kobe Supporters tear me a new one – Kobe is a very good defender…when he tries – is that good enough to be among the league’s best for 8 seasons?) and that tells me that they can also buy into the hype and might be making some of their decisions on reputation. They saw his greatness – and then stopped looking hard at him (and others – he is not the only one to make it on his name). Like my post showed – stats can be used to paint a very detailed picture of a player’s influence on a game, far beyond just how someone scored against him. I think there is a limit to how much a person could intuitively track all the varied fields that paint a more complete picture of a defender’s abilities.
TV: Half a season in, what's your take on Larry Brown as the Bobcats coach?
BH: With the Bobcats seemingly headed towards merely matching last season’s win total…I am actually generally very pleased. Larry Brown has the team playing actual basketball and their defense is world’s better than last season – they currently stand 12th in the league in defensive efficiency (and even better since the Diaw trade), after finishing last year at 21st. The Bobcats are actually approaching being good at something. The offense is still a work in progress, but after a lot of early season struggling with more plays and complexity than they were accustomed, the Cats are making offensive progress. Overall, I can not complain (except about playing Juwan Howard over Ryan Hollins and Alexis Ajinca--the Cats are very unlikely to make the playoffs so why not give the kids a chance?).
TV: For some reason, the Popovich-Brown friendship fascinates me. How would you compare the two coaches, in light of one another?
BH: Stylistically, they seem very similar – their teams play old-school basketball (well, sort-of, depending on the era, old school was actually pretty up-tempo, but the style they play seems old-school), with a focus on defense and a slow pace. But…Pop – 13 seasons, 1 team. Larry Brown – 29 years (including ABA), 10 teams. In real world terms, one is the monogamous, long-married husband, the other a confirmed bachelor, moving from passing fancy to passing fancy. Do they secretly envy each other? What do they have in common to form their friendship around? I can only assume that, just like in real life, the answer is probably basketball.
TV: Do you think the Cats are stuck with Adam Morrison?
BH: Like an unwanted leg. Except I kind of want Adam around, just in case he winds up proving everyone wrong. I’d hate to see him moved elsewhere only to become a solid contributor (anything more seems like ridiculous fantasy at this point). Aside from being used in a trade to make salaries match, I do not see the Bobcats being able to trade him. After a decent start to the season, he has struggled mightily and probably forced the Bobcats into holding onto him for next year (which they already picked up, for the low, low sum of only $5 million – yay! Sigh.).
Brett and I exchanged questions this time around, so visit Queen City Hoops for my answers to a set of Spurs questions. And his game previews are not too shabby, either.

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