Shane Battier is back with the Miami Heat. The 38-year-old is their new director of basketball development and analytics, the team announced on Thursday. His job will be about developing analytics “in evaluating all talent, including college, free agents and current Miami players,” according to the press release.
“We believe Shane is an incredible example of our HEAT program, not only for the present, but also for the future,” said Heat President Pat Riley. “He embodies everything that we are looking for in our players and staff. We feel he will help us tremendously with his experience and knowledge of the game. Shane is an out-of-the-box thinker and will bring a fresh expertise that can help us evolve as a franchise.”
“I am thrilled to be joining the front office of the Miami Heat,” said Shane Battier. “I look forward to working with the Arison family, learning from a Hall of Fame executive in Pat Riley, general manager Andy Elisburg and of course my old coach, Erik Spoelstra. My goal, as is the entire organization’s, is to bring another championship back to Miami.”
Battier’s relationship with numbers is well-documented. Michael Lewis’ “The No-Stats All-Star,” written for The New York Times in 2009, is the defining story of his playing career. Since retiring in 2014, Battier has dabbled in motivational speaking, often discussing how he used analytics as a tool to help his teams win. This is the first time an NBA player has taken this kind of role in an organization, and Battier’s personality, pedigree and communication skills make him the perfect guy to do it.
For years, people attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference have debated and discussed how to bridge the gap between the people working in the analytics department and the players on the court. The topic has come up so much that it has become tiresome. If this is still a problem that needs to be solved, though, then what better way to tackle it than hiring Battier? He knows how he used analytics himself, and he also knows how to get the information across to players who aren’t as naturally curious about it -- he did it for years in the locker room.