The Los Angeles Lakers continue making adjustments to their basketball operations team, this time taking a swing at a big fish to help in an area the franchise has struggled with in recent years. The Lakers have hired Jason Rosenfeld, the NBA’s director of basketball analytics, to fulfill a similar role for the purple and gold, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.
For those who may have missed it, the person who previously held this post for the Lakers resigned back in May shortly after Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took control of the front office.
The Lakers have been working to address the lack of implementation of analytics on the court, and hiring away Rosenfeld from the league looks like a smart move from a distance. Ultimately, we get such a small window into what the “analytics department” does with for the Lakers that there’s a chance we don’t see much change from a day-to-day standpoint.
Our perception isn’t incredibly important on this, though. So long as the team is internally making strides to find effective ways to unpackage the data available, that’s all that matters. The hope has to be that as their analytics department gains steam, we see the proof of it by way of wins.
Translating the numbers into takeaways for the coaching staff is a big task, and the Lakers went after someone who seems to be a big fish in that field. The nucleus in El Segundo continues to grow. There’s not a lot to break down about Rosenfeld himself, but this Q&A from a few years ago on Fansided is worth a gander. Here’s an excerpt to tease you over there:
So when you’re with a team, I imagine you’re watching in a specific way, okay my numbers show this I want to see if I can pick that up. Now that you’re with the league are you doing the same thing? For example with the fatigue stuff, this team or player is in that danger zone, “can I pick that up with the naked eye?” Is that the sort of question you ask?
I would say yes, but as you know somethings are just so hard to pick up with the naked eye. It’s like in baseball, a .300 hitter vs a .270 hitter, go from a great player to a terrible player, and you’d never know if you just watched them. Some things are really tricky like that. Some things are easier to pick up. If you’re talking about teams that play at a really high pace or just shoot threes or at the rim, that when you’re watching the game it might be obvious and you say “wow that is obvious.” And it backs up and is in line with what my numbers are saying.
Something that gets lost a lot of the time is even people who are quote “analytics guys” and myself definitely included. We’re all pretty big basketball fans (emphasis his). Even if I weren’t working for the NBA, I’m sure I’d be watching a lot of basketball because it’s an interest of mine and something I like to do.
That thing where people say people who do analytics don’t really know anything about basketball when in fact we’re watching 20 games a week?
Sure, I love basketball. With that said my basketball knowledge and my ability to remember plays and games, just hearing someone like Kiki talk about that, I’ll never be at that level. I think it’s a real form of genius, I mean it’s really amazing. And I’ll never get to that level, but with that said, I like to think I’m a big fan in my own right and still watch a lot just out of interest and then hopefully maintain a pretty good understanding of the game.