The Wolves Are Still a Step Behind


Jan 20, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders reacts during the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves are still a step behind. We are currently in a time where everything is monitored. Traffic cameras, cell phones; everything can be used to track our every move without us really even knowing about it. It can go even farther when we give our consent. Take your job for instance. You may have to swipe a badge, which in turns tracks your comings and goings. You might have to use a time tracker that tracks your hours worked. Then there could be phone records, website trackers or key stroke counters. It can go on and on.

While it can be a hindrance to have that much attention paid to your every more, all of the data that is produced by these numbers can be very beneficial when trying to make businesses more efficient. The world of sports is no different. The more numbers you can gather on a team or athlete can allow for a deeper analysis. Since every team is looking for a competitive edge, the more data that there is the deeper the analytics can go.

This is why it is very troubling, that according to a source inside the Timberwolves organization, that the Wolves don’t use analytics in their basketball operations. The amount of advanced stats in Basketball is continuing to allow teams to dig deeper and deeper to improve a team’s efficiency. According to a recent article with Dean Oliver, teams are turning more and more to advanced stats and analytics as an integral part of their operations. The issue is that, according to a source, the Wolves aren’t making this a part of their operations.

Analytics is not the end all be all for the future of Basketball, but it is an add-on, or to be used in conjunction with current operations. It would be like reading reviews of a restaurant before eating there. People are doing their research before making decisions. Basketball teams are now using analytics the same way.

Basketball analytics can provide a team with huge advantages when used with other factors. If there are 2 players which seem close to identical, analytics would be able to separate the players. The fact the Wolves don’t have an internal analytics department would explain why David Kahn had missed on so many draft picks. Kahn’s drafting seemed to be by eye test only, and no data to back it up. When investing millions of dollars a team should be doing everything it can to ensure they are making the best choice.

While the Wolves scouting department has been completely redone since Flip Saunders has taken the helm, let’s hope that Flip has learned how great analytics can be from his time with other organizations’ and even ESPN.

In a business that is cut throat and every team is looking for a competitive advantage, not having an internal analytics department for basketball operations and player development purposes is like still using a dial up modem to get on the internet.

If the Wolves are to become a perennial contender in the Western Conference, they will need to not just get an Analytics department for player and basketball operations, they will need to partially reinvent how they see the game and how they evaluate all aspects of basketball operations. Again, this isn’t saying they should strictly base all of their decisions on just the numbers, but use the numbers to either reinforce or disprove what eyes are seeing as this team moves into the future.