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October 22, 2009, 03:09 PM ET
Beech Takes Larger Role in Dallas

by Kevin Pelton

Interesting news today from Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game, who reveals that 82games.com founder Roland Beech has taken a larger role with the Mavericks. Beech, who had previously consulted for Mark Cuban from afar, has apparently moved to Dallas to become more involved in the day-to-day business of running the team. Having a statistical analyst in house is something of an oddity for an NBA team. Mike Zarren is the exception as part of the Celtics’ front office, but his role goes well beyond crunching numbers (Zarren graduated from Harvard Law School and is also the team’s associate counsel). For the most part, even analysts who have considerable influence (like Dean Oliver in Denver) have operated from a distance.

“It’s kind of an experiment to have me here in this way,” says Beech, obviously anticipating the scientific theme of the day.

Beech’s increased role might explain why the Mavericks decided not to renew the contract of IU professor Wayne Winston and Jeff Sagarin, who had been using their WinVAL system to consult from the team in concert with Beech.

Anyway, this is the first of a two-part interview with Beech, who shares his thoughts on the state of APBRmetrics, how he got involved with Dallas, and more.

I’m actually not a big fan of the regression plus/minus rating, even though I’ve actually published a few articles on it. I just don’t believe players have a constant value. The whole foundation of regression is trying to find a constant value for a guy, but value can change pretty dramatically with a different role, a different coaching scheme, different teammates, or different match-ups. I certainly look at plus/minus statistics, but I don’t view it as a one number rating – I don’t think anything is a one number rating that captures everything. I don’t put too much stock in regression plus/minus. I mean, I look at is as a factor.

In (Kevin) Durant’s case, his plus/minus is bad – his on/off, whatever you want to look at. But I still think he’s a great player, and I think we’ll see a progression that’s common from what I’ve seen with a lot of the young players where their plus/minus starts getting better. I think that typically, defense takes a long time to learn when you first come into the league and so over time that should improve. I think Durant will clearly be very good player for a long time to come.

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