Moneyball was an Oscar nominated film about the use of stats in baseball. It was a good film (in my humble opinion) that underscored the increased use of stats in modern sports. What does that have to do with the Celtics you might ask? Glad you asked.
If you’re a Celtics fans, you probably don’t know Zarren. The team wants it that way. The less that is known about Zarren and his methods the better. Go on the team’s website and there is no biography for him, even though he carries the title of assistant general manager. The Celtics guard his advanced statistical analysis like it’s the security code to owner Wyc Grousbeck’s house. Ask the Green’s stats guru why the Celtics have been up and down this season and he all but pops a cyanide pill. Zarren, who joined the team in 2003 as an intern, is Ainge’s database-devising aide de camp, dealing with new-age basketball stats such as Pace factor (average possessions a team uses per 48 minutes) and true shooting percentage (a team’s weighted shooting efficiency adjusted for 3-pointers and free throws). Zarren was also one of the stars of the sixth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which invaded the Hynes Convention Center yesterday and runs through today.
Anyone else picture Jonah Hill? Actually I've met Zarren before, nice guy. And no, he doesn't look like Hill.
Want some more stats? TrueHoop has you covered.
Ayers found the two-player combination that had the greatest positive effect on wins was a versatile, three-point shooting wing with a high-scoring, high-rebounding center. Throw in a high-scoring, high-usage point guard and you have the most effective three-player combination. In all, four combinations of three different categories had statistically significant positive impacts on a team’s performance. Of those four combinations, three featured a versatile, three-point shooting wing - think Paul Pierce. Now take a moment and try to count how many players in the league fit that mold. For this group we’d be talking about players clustered around a per game stat line of roughly 16-4-4, shooting about 37.0% from the field. Only nine players in the league this season are approaching that stat line, and only four - James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Luol Deng - are wings. That particular player type fits very well with many other different combinations of players, but finding one that’s suitable talented to help lead a team is exceedingly rare. Scarcity is often the limiting factor in achieving ‘fit’.
Something to think about as the Celtics look to transition past the Big 3 era.