pretty interesting article
John Hollinger is not the first of what you'd call the "basketball quants" to ascend to an NBA front office. This has been going on for years and years. Dean Oliver, the godfather of the movement, worked for the Sonics and Nuggets before becoming ESPN's top numbers person. (Oliver wrote the bible on the subject, Basketball on Paper, a decade ago.) Roland Beech has worked for the Mavericks. The great Kevin Pelton has done it from both sides: he was the beat writer for Sonics.com, infusing quantitative analysis where possible, before later doing some quant work for the Pacers. Aaron Barzilai did work for the Grizzlies before joining the Sixers this year. David Lewin does work for the Cavaliers. There are numerous others, former and current.
And, of course, there are two more in major positions of power: Mike Zarren, the assistant general manager of the Celtics and a now constant candidate for open GM jobs, as well as Daryl Morey, the GM of the Rockets.
I'm reminded of a tale from Rick Adelman's days in Houston. Morey's team would deliver lengthy scouting reports to the team and coaching staff well before a game. It'd have player tendencies, shooting charts, instructions on match-up advantages -- everything you could ask for to prep for a game. And out of all of the coaches and all of the players only two - Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes - would devour the reports. The rest (Adelman included) would leaf through, pretend to care and go play ball. That story might be an exaggeration on the part of the person who told it, but even if that's the case, it shows how important accessibility is. You can build the world's greatest performance model. And if you can't explain what it means to the people using it, it's worthless.