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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Welcome home, Mr. Marshall

The biggest news, from my perspective, since my last post is that the Sixers have added another player to their roster. As detailed here, the Sixers signed Donyell Marshall as a veteran presence who can (in theory) spread the floor with his 3-point shooting ability.

Until reading the article, I hadn't known that Marshall had played at Reading in the early 1990s. Or, if I'd known, I'd someone forgotten. It's always nice to bring a hometown guy back to play (or, as appears to be the more likely case here, to provide a steadying veteran influence on the bench).

Having a veteran presence on the bench is nice, but the real question for me is always, "Can he contribute?"

To answer that question, we'll turn (as we have been all summer) to our three advanced statistical measures- PER, Adjusted +/-, and WP48. Last season, Marshall had a PER of 9.73 in limited minutes , didn't play enough minutes to have an Adj. +/- calculated, and had a WP48 of .007 while playing for Seattle and a WP48 of -.092 in Cleveland before he was traded.

Hmm. None of those numbers really make me want to go out and celebrate his signing.

Now, if Marshall is content to play hard in practice, dispense wisdom, and not complain about barely getting any minutes during actual games, then I guess I have no problems with the signing (especially since he reportedly signed for the veteran's minimum). You really can't ask for more than that from an end of the bench player. And, of course, you can always hope that Marshall returns to his 2006-07 form (WP48 of .102).

That said, I'm terrified that Mo Cheeks will fall into the trap of playing the veterans in tight situations-- i.e., putting not-as-good players on the floor because there's a comfort level with playing veterans. After last season (playing Thaddeus Young big minutes), I'm not as worried about that possibility, but it still worries me.

With Marshall signed, the Sixers now have 14 players on their roster. Not sure who they'll tab for the final roster spot, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to believe that it might be one of the three players who were on the Sixers' roster last season but are still currently free agents- Kevin Ollie, Herbert Hill, and Shavlik Randolph. Of the three, I'd go with Randolph. But we are talking about the 15th man on the roster, so I'm not sure it really matters.

Stop bugging me already!

Okay, no one has actually been bugging me about my long posting absence. Commenter Louis did send me a (very polite) note the other day wondering when I was going to post again. I promised to put up a post today, but obviously that hasn't happened.

As you can tell by reading the "About me" blurb off to the right (assuming I edited it correctly-- always a big if!), I'm no longer in Anchorage, Alaska. Labor Day weekend I flew from Anchorage to a wedding in Colorado, and then after the wedding I flew directly to Washington, DC to my new apartment. Moving in has been a bit more hectic than I anticipated, but I think I now have everything under control-- just in time to start my new job on Monday. Yeah!!!

Tomorrow I'll start putting up posts briefly touching on the big developments in Sixers' land since my last post. Hint: They involve the signing of a player and a contract extension.