Lionel Hollins was hired as head coach of the Nets this past summer, but before that, he had a successful run as coach of the Grizzlies for four-plus seasons.
In his final year in Memphis, Hollins guided the team to its best season in franchise history, winning 56 regular season games and making it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
But the team declined to bring him back on a new contract the following season, reportedly due to a disagreement over just how much advanced statistics should be used in determining how a team is coached.
Hollins essentially said that the idea he doesn’t use statistics in making his decisions is nonsense, but did admit to going away from them at times.
“I’m going to take a breath,” Hollins said after a long pause, “and say it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard because every coach uses stats.
“Now, do I understand some of the stats that are out there that are new? No. But I can learn them.” …
“It’s a part of the game. I know which combinations play well together from stats. I look at stats just about every day. So it’s a misnomer, and it was what it was and it’s over.” …
“As I used to say in Memphis, you can tell me that this lineup is better without Zach [Randolph], but Zach is going to be in the game the last two minutes of the game,” Hollins said. “I don’t care what the stats say. He’s the guy that I trust is going to give me the best chance to win.
“It’s the same way here. There are lineups that don’t work, but I like and trust what I believe in versus just looking at the numbers …”
You can see where the disconnect was.
Of course Hollins was a willing user of statistics, but the front office in memphis wanted him to go all-in, allowing the data to primarily determine how he managed his lineups.
As Hollins says here, there are times when he would prefer to go with the players he trusted, no matter what the statistics showed. And evidently, that partial level of commitment simply wasn’t good enough for the folks in the Memphis front office.