Rick Adelman may be a master at drawing up plays, one analysis finds
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Rick Adelman is a good coach. Few refute that theory but at times it's difficult to quantify his impact.
Coaches play an important role in the NBA, we think we know that much. It can become a circular argument, however, when assigning credit to coaches for making players and players for making coaches.
Adelman stands out among his peers at drawing up plays, according to a study published on Deadspin using numbers from Bloomberg Sports.
In short, the study compared how a team performs in half-court sets to how they perform out of timeouts. The study, written up by Kyle Wagner, looked at offense and defense to assess how much the timeout improves a team's outcome on average.
(Using a team's half-court sets serves as a baseline by which to compare out-of-timeout situations; It removes things like fast breaks, where scoring probabilities increase, to provide a fairer comparison. A more detailed explanation of the study can be found here.)
Adelman's Wolves are near the top of the list on offense and on defense. Using stats through last week, the Wolves score 87.7 points per 100 possessions. Immediately following timeouts on offense, that rate improves to 101.6 points per 100 possessions. That's a sizable step up, and it's the third-best rate out of timeouts, trailing only the Warriors and Lakers. Minnesota also owns the fourth-largest improvement in such situations (+13.9).
From Wagner's write up:
League-wide, there's a slight offensive benefit to calling a timeout, but only a slight one. Halfcourt plays score 88.44 points per 100 possessions, while post-timeout plays score 88.65.
So compared with the league-wide average, the Wolves improve at an impressive clip out of timeouts.
Defensively, Minnesota's improvement out of timeouts is ninth-best (-2.3 points per 100 possessions). In ordinary half-court sets, the Wolves allow 84.8 points per 100 possessions, a rate that improves to 82.5 points per 100 possessions immediately following timeouts.
The Wolves have struggled this season. They've under-achieved compared to many expectations and the schedule is only partly to blame. One thing that's tough to question at this point, however, is Adelman's ability as a tactical head coach.