The Boston Celtics approach basketball analytics with a blend of data-driven insights and a holistic understanding of the game. Mike Zarren, the Celtics’ Vice President of Basketball Operations and team counsel, has risen through the ranks due to his expertise in analytics but recently spoke about how he advocates for a comprehensive approach that considers both numbers and subjective observations in an interview with Heavy’s Steve Bulpett.
“We’re never only making decisions based on numbers,” explained Zarren, who is known among Boston fans as the front office member most interested in using analytics to guide the decisions the team makes.
“You need every piece of reliable information you can get to make any decision that you need to make,” he added. “So whatever type of information proves to be reliable you should use.”
“Sometimes it’s numbers,” suggested the Celtics vice president. “Sometimes it’s people’s eyes. Sometimes it’s something you heard from a buddy of a player. It could be any of those things.”
“The scene in the movie Moneyball where there’s the old-timey scouts sitting around the table smoking cigars, and the fat kid in the corner pokes his head up from behind the computer screen and says they’re all wrong is not the way things should work in the real world.”
“And it’s created a dichotomy that probably I wish would die — analytics people versus other people,” Zarren related. “It shouldn’t be like that.”
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