FanPost

David Blatt, NBA Coach?

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

(Editor's note: This is awesome and insightful.)


David Blatt seems to be a popular choice to be the Cavs next coach. Why is that though? From what I can tell, it doesn't seem very many people know a lot about him. Sure, it is well-known that he won the Euroleague championship this year, and some people have heard he is an offensive genius, but what else is actually well-known about him? In this post I hope to be able to give my best analysis of him, using lots of sources and long hours of writing and comparing to try to give my best idea of what could be expected from him as a coach in the NBA (hopefully the Cavs).

So when I first heard that the Cavs were looking at David Blatt as a coaching candidate, I had no idea who that was. So, I went on Wikipedia and read his page. Currently, he is the head coach of Maccabi Tel-Aviv, or Maccabi Electra. He has been their coach since the 2010 season, and as everyone knows, they won the Euroleague championship under his leadership this year.

After reading his Wiki, I was pretty impressed, but not overly convinced. My next course of action was to search his name on Twitter, to see A) If he had one, and B) What sort of info I could find about him. The first thing to come up was this article on Sheridan Hoops. You can read the whole thing, but I will reference some important points. First, this quote caught my eye:

"Maccabi Tel-Aviv emerged as the Cinderella champion, overcoming two significantly stronger teams in CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid, in a year in which few outside the Tel-Aviv locker room predicted even a quarterfinals appearance."

I will be the first to admit I know nothing about the Euroleague. I find it very interesting though; that a team with less talent was able to beat two other teams, consecutively, with more talented players. I won't draw any conclusions from that, because the other coaches could have been bad or the teams could have played down to Maccabi's level, but it seems good for his coaching ability. Next, this:

"This is one of the greatest accomplishments in Blatt's decorated career, winning his first Euroleague championship as a head coach after winning 4 Israeli League Championships, 5 Israeli Cup championships, an Italian League Championship, an Italian Cup Championship, a Eurochallenge Championship, an Adriatic League Championship, Eurobasket Gold and Bronze medals with Team Russia, along with an Olympic Bronze medal."

This guy is a winner. He wins, a lot. Again, I'm not sure how important that is, considering it is NOT the NBA, but he at least knows how to win, and I think that is an important necessity for a head coach. I mean, look at the Karl's and the Hollins' of the world; they have been criticized as coaches because they had good teams and good regular seasons, but couldn't win when it was important. Well, David Blatt wins when it is important. Another thing:

"Blatt has led a group that over 60 games into the season (the Israeli league playoffs are still going on) has a leading scorer averaging 11 points a game, but a whopping 11 players averaging 6 points or more.

Throughout Blatt's time with Maccabi, it has been abundantly clear that his players have little interest in their stats or individual glory, and have organizationally embraced valuing the success of the club over individual achievements."

Again, this is important. If he can get NBA player's egos in check and have them fight for team glory instead of individual glory... Let's just say the Cavs would be in a great position for many years to come. Lastly, this:

"Blatt has consistently shown an ability to build a strong connection with his players, who have come from a wide variety of destinations and backgrounds. His penchant for uniting his teams wherever he goes will likely translate very well in the NBA."

We need a coach that can make a strong connection with his players. Look at how Golden State and Marc Jackson were. That locker room was united, and loved him to death. Because of that, they were able to be successful. Well, this is Marc Jackson but without the behind-the-scenes issues plus some.

So, after that article, I wanted to know more. I found this article, and at this point, I was salivating. A coach that is good at calling plays out of a timeout? A player's coach? A coach that adapts his system to his players' strengths? Where do I sign up? I still wanted to know more. I wanted to know, could his coaching translate? Because I had no clue. The Euroleague and the NBA are two completely different beasts. So, I decided to get into the numbers.

My gut first told me to look at pace and see what pace his teams have played at, and try to compare it to the NBA. Well, after looking into that, I decided there was not really a way I could do that without overstepping and making too many assumptions. It wasn't something I had the ability to do. Especially considering the last major coach to come over from Europe was Mike D'Antoni. I tried to find his (Mike's) pace stats from 2002 when he was a coach of Benetton Treviso, but I was unsuccessful. If anyone finds them, then awesome, I would be willing to discuss what that would mean for David in the NBA. But, as of right now, the only thing I know about his pace is that he likes to push the tempo. (I found that out watching this at about the 8:40 mark)

After my pace idea flopped, I decided to look at two things: where Maccabi scored and assisted baskets. I figured that if I know where they get their shots from (inside, midrange, and 3) and whether they played good team basketball offensively (lots of assists, high assist percentage), then I could be satisfied about his offensive coaching abilities. (As a note, I didn't use Maccabi's offensive rating, because I don't think it is comparable to the NBA.)

So, I made a detailed spreadsheet about where Maccabi scored their baskets during only their Euroleague games (I did not include the Israeli league they are also in). I also found a stat here about the shots taken at the rim vs. all other twos. I was very excited about that, so I used it. There is a big issue, though, that I will address. But, here is the spreadsheet:

2013-2014


















Opponent (Euroleague)

Home/Away

2pt makes

2pt shots

2 pt %

3pt makes

3pt shots

3 pt %

total makes

total shots

%

W/L

At Rim makes

At Rim Shots

At Rim %

Away from rim makes

Away from Rim Shots

Away from Rim %

Laboral Kuxta

A

24

38

0.632

6

22

0.273

30

60

0.500

L

19

26

0.731

6

13

0.462

KK Crvena Zvezda

H

21

38

0.553

15

28

0.536

36

66

0.545

W

7

7

1.000

14

31

0.452

Lokomotiv Kuban

A

24

47

0.511

5

17

0.294

29

64

0.453

W

17

32

0.531

7

15

0.467

Lietuvos Rytas

A

19

34

0.559

8

18

0.444

27

52

0.519

W

12

22

0.545

7

12

0.583

Panathinaikos

H

18

36

0.500

7

19

0.368

25

55

0.455

W

11

11

1.000

7

25

0.280

Laboral Kutxa

H

22

37

0.595

4

19

0.211

26

56

0.464

L

7

9

0.778

15

28

0.536

KK Crvena Zvezda

A

23

33

0.697

7

18

0.389

30

51

0.588

W

19

24

0.792

4

9

0.444

Lokomotiv Kuban

H

18

36

0.500

11

26

0.423

29

62

0.468

W

5

5

1.000

13

31

0.419

Lietuvos Rytas

H

28

50

0.560

2

15

0.133

30

65

0.462

W

5

6

0.833

23

44

0.523

Panathinaikos

A

15

29

0.517

10

27

0.370

25

56

0.446

W

11

14

0.786

4

15

0.267

Galatasaray

A

25

42

0.595

10

20

0.500

35

62

0.565

W

16

23

0.696

9

19

0.474

Lokomotiv Kuban

H

26

40

0.650

9

27

0.333

35

67

0.522

W

2

3

0.667

23

37

0.622

Zalgiris

A

21

42

0.500

11

25

0.440

32

67

0.478

W

14

27

0.519

7

15

0.467

KK Partizan

H

28

46

0.609

6

19

0.316

34

65

0.523

W

13

16

0.813

15

30

0.500

Real Madrid

A

15

29

0.517

9

25

0.360

24

54

0.444

L

5

6

0.833

10

23

0.435

FC Bayern Muenchen

H

18

34

0.529

6

20

0.300

24

54

0.444

W

5

6

0.833

13

28

0.464

CSKA Moscow

A

14

26

0.538

8

25

0.320

22

51

0.431

L

11

18

0.611

3

8

0.375

Galatasaray

H

20

30

0.667

16

28

0.571

36

58

0.621

W

8

8

1.000

12

22

0.545

Lokomotiv Kuban

A

20

35

0.571

7

18

0.389

27

53

0.509

L

9

15

0.600

11

20

0.550

Zalgiris

H

19

44

0.432

10

24

0.417

29

68

0.426

W

6

8

0.750

13

36

0.361

KK Partizan

A

17

34

0.500

8

26

0.308

25

60

0.417

L

14

21

0.667

3

13

0.231

Real Madrid

H

22

40

0.550

6

26

0.231

28

66

0.424

L

7

8

0.875

15

32

0.469

FC Bayern Muenchen

A

20

34

0.588

13

18

0.722

33

52

0.635

W

13

21

0.619

7

13

0.538

CSKA Moscow

H

20

39

0.513

8

13

0.615

28

52

0.538

L

8

12

0.667

12

27

0.444

EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

A

26

48

0.542

7

14

0.500

33

62

0.532

W

19

33

0.576

7

15

0.467

EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

A

21

34

0.618

5

22

0.227

26

56

0.464

L

16

27

0.593

5

7

0.714

EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

H

24

43

0.558

6

18

0.333

30

61

0.492

W

6

10

0.600

18

33

0.545

EA7 Emporio Armani Milano

H

22

43

0.512

11

19

0.579

33

62

0.532

W

10

13

0.769

12

30

0.400

CSKA Moscow (final 4)*

A

19

42

0.452

9

22

0.409

28

64

0.438

W

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Real Madrid (championship)*

A

23

55

0.418

9

22

0.409

32

77

0.416

W

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

21.1

37.9

0.558

8.3

21.3

0.389

29.3

59.2

0.496

10.5

15.4

0.739

10.5

22.5

0.465

*Not included in avgs


21.9

39.7

0.552

8.4

21.5

0.391

30.2

61.2

0.493

Home avg.

6.6

8.7

0.759

14.6

31.0

0.471



20.3

36.1

0.562

8.1

21.1

0.384

28.4

57.1

0.497

Away avg.

13.9

22.1

0.629

6.4

14.1

0.454

So, I'm sure some of you are really excited by that spreadsheet and I'm sure some of you are really confused. Well, it is sort of confusing. But, what I got from it was important. But before I put the really important data, I just want to point out something that is very important and very frustrating. Maccabi Electra used a different criteria than EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE LEAGUE to define "attempts at the rim." And I have no clue in what way that is. All I know for sure is that every home game they play, they have obscenely small "at-rim" shot attempts, and when they are away, they have a lot of "at-rim" shot attempts. This is also true for every other team: whenever they would play at Maccabi, they would take a ton less shots at the rim than literally every other game that they played. I figure that Maccabi defines it as literally just dunks and lay-ups while other teams use "within six feet" or something. Either way, it throws off the data. I decided that since every other team in the league does it the same way and Maccabi is the odd one out, that the away data is probably more applicable in this case. But, to be completely fair and open, I have three sets of final data: total, home, and away.

TOTAL

Percent of shots at rim

0.260

Percent of shots from 2

0.381

Percent of shots from 3

0.360


HOME

Percent of shots at rim

0.142156863

Percent of shots from 2

0.506535948

Percent of shots from 3

0.35130719


AWAY

Percentage of shots at rim

0.38704028

Percentage of shots from 2

0.246935201

Percentage of shots from 3

0.369527145

After finding this data, I compared it to the Houston Rockets, because of their penchant for avoiding the midrange area. When I compared it, I used the away percentages. Like I said, I believe those are the most accurate. Anyways, The Rockets shoot 47% of their shots at the rim (I stuck with the "6ft and in" I suggested earlier) , 33% of their shots from three, and 20% of their shots from all other twos (midrange). Maccabi in the 2013-2014 Euroleague season shot 38.7% of their shots at the rim, 37% of their shots from three, and 24.7% of their shots from other twos. So, Maccabi took four percent more of their shots from three than the Houston Rockets, who led the NBA in that category. At first, I thought maybe this could be because, as the stereotype says, the people in the Euroleague are tall, white, and can shoot threes. I checked, and it turns out, that isn't why they took more threes. Maccabi had about eight players that attempted at least a three per game. The Rockets, on the other hand, had 13 when you include Troy Daniels and Robert Covington. So, they had more players that took threes, but had a smaller number of their shots be from three. I think that bodes well, because we all know that the three point shot is worth one more point than the two point shot. Maccabi did shoot eight percent less of their shots inside, and about four more percent from midrange, but overall, that isn't bad.

Next, I looked at assist percentage. Maccabi averaged 17.4 assists, and with an average of 29.3 shots, that means their assist percentage was about 59.4. I wanted to compare that to a few NBA teams assist percentage last year, so here goes:

Hawks: 65.1%

Houston: 60.9%

Portland: 59.3%

Cavs: 56.6%

So, I have given you some articles and data to mull over. I don't want to throw too much of my opinion into this, so all I will say is, the more I researched, the more I liked David Blatt. Here are just a few more things about him.

Here is a video of him talking after the championship game (via TopHeavyHookjaw).

Here is the overtime from the championship game.

Here is the game against CSKA Moscow that they won in the semifinals.

And, last but certainly not least, I found out how Jeremy Pargo felt about him.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on FearTheSword.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at FearTheSword

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