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But don't overlook a stable front office -- GM Brian Cashman since 1998, manager Joe Girardi since 2008 and director of quantitative analysis Michael Fishman since 2005 -- and a reliance on metrics.
Girardi consults with Fishman on tendencies before each series, and Cashman talks constantly with a 15-deep analytics staff, saying he used "hit velos" (ball speed off the bat) to justify last year's deal for third baseman Chase Headley.
Roland Beech, VP of basketball strategy and founder of 82games.com, was the NBA's first bench "stats coach" when Dallas won the 2011 title, and Cuban's faith in tech company Catapult, which gauges player workload to keep vets like Dirk Nowitzki healthy, is so strong he invested several million dollars in it just last year.
Moneyball is alive and well in Oakland, but since that seminal book was published in '03, the league has upped its investment in sabermetrics, closing the gap on Billy Beane. In 2009, GM Stan Bowman became one of the first NHL execs to hire an outside analytics firm -- half a decade before 2014's "Summer of Analytics" hit the ice.
So far, Bryant has been worth minus-0.2 win shares since last season and is modeling suits courtside with a torn right rotator cuff.
To be fair, the Lakers are waking up, if late, to the movement.
Don't get your hopes up for a change with Ryan gone.
New GM Mike Maccagnan and new coach Todd Bowles likewise sport old-school credentials and were not hired to spearhead a stats awakening for Gang Green -- Maccagnan brings a scouting background (read: the good ol' eye test) from Houston and Bowles comes from Arizona, two franchises that remain skeptical of analytics.
With Rex Ryan as coach, the Jets remained well behind the analytics curve in a league that is barely keeping up in its own right.San Antonio was also an original subscriber to Sport VU cameras, which track player-location data at a rate of 25 times per second, data that has optimized Gregg Popovich's emphasis on resting aging stars for deep playoff runs."Analytics have been an important component of who we are since I walked in the door 15 years ago," says owner Mark Cuban, an early adopter of adjusted plus-minus.Exhibit A: signing a 35-year-old coming off an Achilles tear to a two-year, .5 million extension.Analytics will always tell you that's a bad idea -- even if he's Kobe Bryant.