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Pistons hire Charles Klask, the Magic’s “statistical guru”

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (hat tip: Mike Payne of Detroit Bad Boys):

The Orlando Magic are about to lose a key member of their basketball operations staff.

Charles Klask, the Magic’s scouting information manager, has accepted a job with the Detroit Pistons.

“Charles was our statistics guru,” Magic General Manager Otis Smith told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday.

“He really delved into the numbers for us and broke down the numbers for us — a lot of breaking down the teams from a statistical regard, helping Stan formulate his game plans from a statistical perspective. He was huge to our staff.”

This sounds like great news. The Pistons have appeared woefully behind when it comes to using statistics to inform their decisions.

But before we get carried away with excitement, I have to throw some water on the fire. Check out this February 2010 article by Robbins about the Magic using statistics. It’s all about how Stan Van Gundy used Klask to help Orlando on the court. Magic general manager Otis Smith’s name didn’t appear once. Who do you think is more likely to take advantage of Klask’s work, Lawrence Frank or Joe Dumars? I thought so.

Also from the Robbins article:

When the Magic hired Van Gundy in 2007, he made clear he wanted one person in the basketball operations department to coordinate all of the team’s scouting and video efforts, compile game plans and also study data and cull useful statistics.

Charles Klask, the team’s scouting information manager, occupies that role for the Magic.

Klask is a Michigan native, and he obviously had a variety of responsibilities in Orlando. Who says his focus will be statistical analysis in Detroit? Maybe he just wanted to come home.

I’ll end on a positive note. Here a couple excerpts from Dennis Mannion’s Q&A with Keith Langlois:

Having a passion for the sport was first and having a track record of using data to make decisions – that’s where the world has gone – so it’s a combination of finding someone with his passion and data. And Tom (Gores) clearly found that. It was easy to research his style of business because of the number of businesses that they’ve purchased.

If there are analytic tools that we’re using on the business side that might be valuable tools for the team side to use, we’ll do that.


  • Sep 16, 20119:02 am
    by neutes


    From what I understand this statistics guru is more opponent scouting and game adjustments and not involved in influencing personnel decisions correct? If he is I don’t approve, because I don’t want anyone involved in the front office decisions that have taken place in Orlando to come anywhere near the Pistons.

    • Sep 16, 20119:14 am
      by tarsier


      Yeah because a front office that has made some bad decisions must be completely devoid of quality.

      • Sep 16, 20119:31 am
        by neutes


        Well I think the Millen/Mayhew front office makes your point valid. But really, why hire a ‘stats guru’ if you aren’t going to listen to them? I don’t think he was in any way involved in personnel decisions. I think he’s basically an advanced scout of some sort. The thought that whatever data he was analyzing led him to recommend or support the decisions Otis Smith has made is a scary thought. Also scary is that when you look at how the Magic used the roster they had, which was basically a failure to put their best players on the floor, you have to question his ability transform stats into something valuable.

    • Sep 16, 20119:23 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Well, even if he was involved in personnel decisions that doesn’t mean he agreed with them. I don’t think anyone, statistically inclined or otherwise, other than Otis Smith would’ve supported signing Lewis to that ridic contract or trading for Arenas’ contract. Those moves seemed like Smith acting unilaterally.

      • Sep 16, 201112:51 pm
        by tarsier


        The Arenas trade didn’t seem that terrible. I mean, they had one way overpaid guy that they swapped for another in the hopes that maybe a different setting would make something click. A reasonable hope in Arenas’ case given his past. It obviously didn’t turn out well, but that didn’t seem like a horrible move. However, I do think they should have gone harder after players like Ellis and Granger–offering basically anything but Howard for them. Because Howard + one very good outside scorer = contender. Dwight is just that good.

        • Sep 16, 20111:48 pm
          by neutes


          I’d go the opposite direction. I’d want Josh Smith or Igoudala if I we’re the Magic. I’d go after Battier. I would put together a team nobody could score against. Trying to compliment Howard by getting a stretch 4 is the wrong strategy. Go hard. Make it so nobody wants the play you. The Magic kept trying to find scorers because they had the most dominant defensive presence in the NBA. My take – you can never have enough defense.

          • Sep 17, 20118:46 pm
            by tarsier

            You can certainly never have too much defense. And if you could get Smoove and Iggy, that would definitely be the way to go. But I don’t think one of those plus Howard would be a contender. And they each have at least as much value as Ellis or Granger. So it becomes a matter of what is affordable. Get the best compliment that you have enough trade bait for.

          • Sep 18, 20118:41 am
            by Murph

            Right.  Battier is always the example of the kind of player “the stat boys” love.  He’s an under-valued (under-paid), defensive oriented player that always does very well in all the +/- statistical matrixes.

  • Sep 16, 20119:05 am
    by Jason


    Does this make the stat boys happy?

  • Sep 16, 20119:09 am
    by neutes


    And while I’m at it if this is the same guy that recommended that the Magic play Lewis and Bass at the 4 when they had Anderson and Gortat on their roster wtf was he thinking? How much did he really help SVG? I can’t help but to think SVG is the single worst coach in the NBA. Otis Smith is a pathetic GM. If I was a Magic fan I’d be 75 times more upset than I am now being a Pistons fan with the way that team is going and the opportunities they’ve wasted.

    • Sep 16, 20119:26 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      They’ve certainly wasted the luxury of having the best big man in the league and a top five player. As for playing Bass/Lewis, I think any coach, whether he thought those guys were any good or not, would be under pressure to play people signed to the contracts those guys were signed to, particularly Lewis. GMs aren’t going to be shown up by the coach, so benching a $20 million a year player in favor of a guy like Anderson probably was just not going to happen no matter who the coach was.

  • Sep 16, 201110:39 am
    by Murph


    While I welcome a quant guy on the Pistons staff, I’m not sure this is exactly the quant guy we need. 
    Joe has been very late to the quantitative analysis party.   If I’m not mistaken many teams , such as the Nuggests and Rockets have been utiltizing quantitative analysis for 5 or 10 years now.

    Let’s hope for the best with this guy.

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