BOSTON—Shane Battier doesn’t believe coaching is the most important factor for success in the NBA, it’s peer-to-peer accountability. At least, that’s what he said on Friday morning at a panel on basketball analytics at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
The panel, which was moderated by ESPN’s Pablo Torre and also featured former Lakers, Knicks and Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, WNBA star Sue Bird and Celtics executive Mike Zarren, covered a wide range of topics from the evolution of defense to the debate on the elimination of conferences.
“Peer-to-peer pressure is the most powerful force on a sports team,” Battier said. “All the great organizations have it. The peer pressure of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is more important than anything Gregg Popovich could say.”
There is a lot to be said for the presence of proven, respected veterans in a locker room. In addition to the Spurs’ trio of superstars, Battier pointed to players like Steve Nash and Kevin Garnett as examples of the kinds of players who influence the others to work as hard as they do.
This is why Kendrick Perkins remains a valuable player to have on your roster even though he’s not much of a contributor on the court anymore. And it’s telling to hear Battier, a player who embraces analytical methods as much as anyone, reflect on this now that he’s done playing.