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Doc Rivers Manages Minutes Really Well

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The Thinker
The Thinker

Years before the Big 3, Doc Rivers was criticized by just about everyone as a bad X's and O's coach.  Over time people started appreciating his ability to set up out of bounds plays that work to perfection.  Still, fans and scribes alike tended to harp on his handling of the rotations.  Either he was overusing veterans or playing odd lineups or ignoring our favorite tremendous upside potential draft pick.  It is really hard to prove that Doc was good or bad at this because it seems like a very subjective judgment on a many layered process.

Ian Levy of Hickory High (and Indy Cornrows) takes a mathematical look at coaches rotations and has determined that Doc Rivers is one of the best in the game (Phil Jackson too, but he's retired now so he doesn't count).  In fact, his use of the 2008 squad ranks as one of the best all time when measuring with Ivey's metric.  Here's a blurb but the whole thing is worth the read for anyone who's a fan of stats.

Lineup Optimization: The Extra Fifteen Percent | Hickory-High

Broken down this way Rivers had three options. He was able to manage his rotations in such a way that 70% of the minutes went to the two better options. Just as important was the way he managed minutes, that pushing the team from great to elite, while still protecting the legs of his players. Other than his rookie season, Kevin Garnett had the lowest MPG of his first 13 seasons in 2008. For Paul Pierce it was the 3rd lowest MPG of his career up to that point. It was the same case for Ray Allen. Rivers cut minutes for his stars, but managed to keep what he needed on the floor for the greatest amount of time. I would argue that he did a masterful job managing his rotations that season. Perhaps the high level of talent on his roster made things easier. But he still needed to find a way to maintain effectiveness when any of those starters came off the floor. He did that in a big way.

Yup, Doc has come a long way from being Bill Simmons' whipping boy in 2007.