Green Thoughts

Chronicling the Boston Celtics quest for banner number 17... and beyond.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Baser Instincts

Did anyone see Shira Springer's VALENTINE to Danny Ainge in the Globe? Here are a couple of clips:

"(Ainge's) approach has loaded the Celtics with young talent -- Kendrick Perkins, Al Jefferson, Delonte West, Tony Allen, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and Orien Greene... Given what Ainge had to work with, mid-to-late first-round picks and second-rounders, the Celtics arguably have drafted better than any other team in the league the past three seasons in terms of stockpiling for the future. ... For all the lists and statistics and scouting trips and team workouts, Ainge said the decision about whom Boston drafts each year ``boils down to instinct."

Somewhere, Billy Beane is throwing a chair.

Springer goes on to use Al Jefferson as a shining example of Ainge's great instincts and draft savvy. ``Al was a guy that we weren't on all the time," said Ainge.

``Al was kind of a guy that came in late in the process because he was a high school kid. We saw him play in high school. I didn't, but my staff all saw him play at least once each. The first time I saw him was in the [McDonald's All-America] game, in practices, and I was impressed with Al at that time. That was when my antenna went up with him and I started watching him very closely. Then we brought him in for a workout and it was a disaster. My coaches are going, `You've got to be kidding me.'

``But those initial instincts, those initial feelings that I had when I first saw him [remained]. I thought he had a special-enough upside. I thought he was a real competitor. He just hadn't been able to prove it at a high level like Delonte and Tony had. I believed that he was going to instigate physical play and he was going to compete and he had a skill that I thought was unique and special -- scoring in the low post."

The part that scares me the most - and perhaps gives the greatest insight into the team's troubles and the way Ainge operates is the stuff about " he was a real competitor. He just hadn't been able to prove it at a high level..." Umm... Danny, THAT'S WHAT COLLEGE IS FOR!

Two years and three sprained ankles later, we’re still waiting for that "unique and special" player. Maybe it will happen this year, but it hasn't happened yet. At least not consistently. In fact, it's just as likely that Jefferson, Telfair, Iverson and the draftees would be the best example of why Ainge's approach is outdated. It's not about instinct. It's about analysis.

The economics professors who authored the new book "The Wages of Wins" said it best:

"One can play basketball. One can watch basketball. One can both play and watch basketball for a thousand years. If you do not systematically track what the players do, and then uncover the statistical relationship between these actions and wins, you will never know why teams win and why they lose."

We have a team full of players now that are guys Ainge picked up primarily because of his "instincts" and "feelings." And it's taken us from the playoffs to the lottery. My own "feeling" is that if we pick up Telfair and Iverson, we'll be wondering, as the Sixers have for the past few years, why we have "the Answer," not to mention "the Truth," but we still can't win.


Post a Comment

<< Home