Coaching is hard to evaluate - especially as fanalysts, because we only see what happens on TV during games and nothing that goes on behind the scenes. Evaluating John Loyer is trickier still, given he has coached only two games and (unexpectedly) inherited a team that has been a significant disappointment due mostly to a dysfunctional and ill-fitting roster.
While there's no way to thoroughly analyze a coach after only two games, there are a few things we can look at: minutes played, rotations, and field goals attempted. Or in other words, from a ten thousand foot view, is Loyer using the same or different players, and is he using them in the same or in different ways?
With regard to rotations and minutes, we can look at minutes per game, as well as the share of the total minutes each player is playing. All data is from basketball-reference.com.
Overall, this hasn't been an overhaul, but there has been a bit of tinkering.
- It looks like Loyer has settled into a nine-man rotation that includes Jonas Jerebko and a slightly increased role for Will Bynum.
- Greg Monroe's minutes are up slightly; however, it's hard to say if that is connected or not to Andre Drummond's foul trouble in Loyer's first game against the Spurs, which limited Dre's minutes.
- Kyle Singler and Rodney Stuckey likely have skewed numbers due to Stuckey's sickness against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
- Loyer seems to be continuing the trend of decreasing the role of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. His season total minutes don't show this, but Cheeks was playing KCP fewer minutes as the season progressed.
Beyond that, things look pretty much the same here. I applaud Loyer for giving Jerebko a look. Deservedly or not, Jonas has been the player whose role has been impacted the most since Josh Smith was signed. I'm hoping that Josh Harrellson and GiGi Datome get their shots as well. I'd also prefer that Singler go back to the bench in favor of KCP, but that's a relatively minor quibble and unlikely to make or break anything.
Roles are obviously a lot tougher to capture - especially over the course of just two games - but we can look at field goal attempts, which in my opinion was Cheeks' most significant failure. Instead of looking at field goals per game, I'm looking at the percentage of shots relative to the whole that each player is taking, in an attempt to account for pace in a simple way, as well as the rotations tweaks Loyer has made.
Again, I don't see evidence of an overhaul, but it might be that Loyer has been coaching up Josh Smith. Then again, his shot charts are still relatively perimeter oriented (Spurs, Cavs). Disappointingly, Brandon Jennings has still taken the lion's share of the shots even though he is effectively the worst shooter on the team, and Greg Monroe's shot attempts haven't increased.
Obviously, this could all change after the All Star break and the extra practices Loyer will have with the team, but so far, the Pistons have been basically the same basketball team under John Loyer as they were under Maurice Cheeks.
Nothing you can do about that?
UPDATE: Loyer touched on this to the media [via MLIVE]:
"I kind of took this as a two-game increment, do the best we can do for these two games, get our guys focused, make a few changes, and then kind of start fresh again," Loyer said Tuesday. "Whether then we go on a five-game increment, I haven't really thought much about it. There's a broader picture of things that we've got to cover and go over and add to the package. But most of that is going to be done after the break and we'll spend time on the break working on that."