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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Cavs & Analytics & Stuff

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 3:42 PM

The Cavs' analytics guy is Dan Rosenbaum, an economics professor from UNC Greensboro. You won't read much about Rosenbaum, both because the Cavs don't really elaborate on their use of advanced analytics and because Dan doesn't do interviews — not for background, not on basketball, not on what he likes to eat for breakfast. I've tried to arrange a Q&A with him before, dying to know if he's a sausage patty or link guy, though I thought I'd also try to throw in a question about adjusted plus/minus in the middle of talking about waffles vs. pancakes, but to no avail.

What little we know about Rosenbaum's role within the front office comes in little snippets here and there, like this tidbit from Brian Windhorst last year:

The Cavs do not like to talk about it but they are right there, too. Their stat guru - an economics professor named Dan Rosenbaum who wrote a blog that Cavs GM Danny Ferry became a fan of when he was in the San Antonio Spurs' front office - advises them on an array of moves.

Yet, Rosenbaum is not listed in the media guide even though you can find the scoreboard animator's name or the person in charge of mail-order merchandise in there.

The team's three-year quest to acquire Delonte West was based partially on the numbers Rosenbaum's computer spit out. When they started trying to trade for him, West was a member of the Celtics. He was there in part because Morey, who worked for the Celtics before moving to Houston, had a computer tell him the same thing about the tough-nosed guard from St. Joseph's.

And this sorta but not really interesting nugget from a Wall Street Journal study:

According to interviews with every team, The Wall Street Journal found that half the league's teams this season have at least one of these statisticians who helps make in-game, draft-day and trade-deadline decisions. Many of these teams are among the NBA's best. The list accounts for all six division leaders, including the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks, who have a data analyst traveling with the team. These 15 teams that have invested heavily in statistics have combined to win 59.3% of their games this season. The 15 teams without such analysts have won 40.7% of their games, and only three — the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks — are on pace to make the postseason.

I do think about Rosenbaum from time to time like when the Cavs sign Anderson Varejao to a contract that seems like too much, only until you figure they just know a lot more than you do, or when Andy has a great game and Danny Ferry quotes Dan Gilbert quoting Albert Einstein: "Everything that counts can't be counted."

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