This afternoon, Joe Dumars announced that the Pistons have hired Ken Catanella as the Director of Basketball Operations, a new role that didn't exist in Detroit last season. Catanella will round out the team of Joe Dumars and Scott Perry, focusing on salary cap management and basketball analytics. Catanella is no stranger to crunching numbers for basketball teams, having worked with the New Jersey Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers and the German League 99ers in an analytics capacity.
Prior to joining the German Bundesliga's Cologne 99ers as assistant GM, Catanella played for the team after a college career at Amhurst. Catanella also spent time on Wall Street after working as a graduate assistant to the Duke Blue Devil's mens basketball team.
Catanella has ties with new Pistons coach Lawrence Frank, having worked with the New Jersey Nets between 2006 and 2008, developing and managing their statistical scouting systems. Ken was involved with the decisions of the 2008 NBA draft, where the Nets selected Brook Lopez 10th, Ryan Anderson 21st, and Chris Douglas-Roberts 40th. Each of these players have outperformed their draft positioning, which could reflect the value of having a guy like Catanella on staff.
Curious, however, is the similarity in titling between Joe Dumars and Ken Catanella. Ken Catanella is the Director of Basketball Operations, Dumars is the President of Basketball Operations. The question is where this hiring will leave VP of Basketball Operations Scott Perry in the pecking order, and whether or not this hiring will place additional pressure on Dumars to adequately improve this roster.
There is plenty of pub about Ken Catanella available online, including this 2008 interview with Henry Abbott of TrueHoop. In that interview, Catanella discusses a bit about his process:
My background is in valuing companies for investment banks or mutual fund companies. It's making a projection based on past performance, trying to answer the question "what here really indicates likely future success?"
Figuring that out really starts in conversations with the coaching staff, and trying to get a sense of what kinds of stats could be important. I did a lot of that when I was on Coach K's staff, and I'm lucky enough to work with Lawrence Frank.
Then, based on those insights, we do a bit of regression, which helps to project how different players' careers might play out in the NBA.
What goes into the mix is not any one magic number, though.
There are typical efficiency stats. There are anthropometric ratings like wing span, body fat, vertical leap, standing reach and the like. There are strength of schedule ratings. There is looking at who they were on the court against, and who they were on the court with. There are +/- numbers. The numbers really run the whole gamut. You try to find anything that you can measure that might be helpful, and put it all in the mix.
Welcome to Detroit, Ken, many of us have been hoping for a guy like you for years...