Friday, September 12, 2008

Cheeks gets extension. Does it matter?

The Sixers gave Mo Cheeks a contract extension the other day. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but since he had already signed a one year extension this past February, I guess it's safe to assume that this extension is a multi-year deal.

The team played well last year and the players seem to like Cheeks, so rewarding Cheeks with a contract extension seems like it was the right thing to do. That said, does it really matter?

Nothing against Cheeks, but I'm just not sure that most coaches make that much of a difference in the NBA. I guess if you compared a terrible coach to a great coach you'd be able to see a difference. But I think all the coaches in the NBA are within such a narrow range of ability compared to one another (or, to be on the safe side, let's say 95% of NBA coaches) that I don't think having one coach versus another really makes a huge difference.

I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but I seem to remember coming across articles that reference research that basically reached this same conclusion-- a few coaches were seen to have a measurable impact on performance, but most did not. I also remember seeing a recent article on a study that found the same thing to be true for investment fund managers. (And the number of managers that stand out from the crowd has been shrinking over time as the industry has gotten more sophisticated overall.)

I think that as long as a coach can get all of his players to buy into his system (no matter what type of system it is), the ability of his players then becomes the major factor in determining team success. Beyond that initial threshold, I think that coaches are considered good if they have good players (and thus win), and they're considered bad if they have bad players (and thus lose). Not a very complicated formula.

So congrats to Mo Cheeks on his extension. And I just hope that the Sixers continue to add talent and that our players continue to buy into Cheeks' system.

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