When the Pistons hired former NBA player Pat Garrity as their new director of strategic planning, my first thought was, what's that? I wasn't alone. Garrity was a guest this week on Detroit Sports 105.1's Ryan and Rico, and he was asked to explain his job.
"That's a good question. When you think about it, the role of a front office is really to develop the roster and put a product on the floor that you can win a championship with," he said. "And so the information that goes into making those decisions comes from all over the place.
"And so really, what I was brought in to do is to kind of bridge the gap between what is the sources of the information, what should we be doing to make decisions? And really developing repeatable processes which we can do to stay in a much more efficient way where we're learning, where we're compounding out understanding over time.
"I don't know how descriptive that ways, but it's basically developing ways of operating and doing things, kind of from an operational role here from the front office."
Does that clear things up? Maybe a little. It sounds like perhaps Garrity will be a front-office glue guy, making sure everyone is on the same page, making sure folks are able to synthesize all of the data that the analytics team creates into actionable steps. Given his background -- as Sean alluded in his previous post, Garrity obtained his MBA from Duke's Fuqua School of Business with a concentration in investment finance after his playing career -- he sounds more than qualified.
What Stan Van Gundy brings to the table
Garrity played in the NBA for 10 years, spending the last nine with the Magc. His final year coincided with Stan Van Gundy's arrival in Orlando, so he was able to provide a first-hand account of what Van Gundy brings to Detroit.
"There's not going to be a better prepared coaching staff in the league when it comes to practice, when it comes to game planning," he said. "So first of all, the preparation will be there.
"I think the second biggest thing -- this is a huge thing in the league because guys move all over the place -- he is really good at setting expectations for guys. What is expected in your role, what you need to work on, the things that you bring to the team.
"As simple as that might sound, it's not something that I think is necessarily uniform across the league. A lot of teams that you go to, depending on the situation they've gone through, it's fluid, it's not well defined. And I think the successful teams, the teams that have persistent success are the ones who have a defined way of doing things, guys know what's expected from them. And that leads development across the board."
Teaching players to win
Garrity was asked how Van Gundy and his staff can teach the Pistons how to win, given that many of the young players on this team have never actually won in the NBA. He responded by pointing out how much Andre Drummond stands to gain playing with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup.
"I'll tell you, the one guy who's getting that opportunity right now that hopefully can bring that back is Andre Drummond. Just the guys that he's with, the expectations on that team, to go to the World Championshiops and win a gold medal. He's around guys right now, he's around a coach right now that, nothing less than excellence is expected. So I think his experience this summer is going to be a key part of bringing that here.
"Then I think it does come from the coaching staff who's been there before with what Stan was able to do in Orlando, with Brendan Malone, his years and years of experience. So hopefully you can bring a couple of those a little kernels together of experience and knowledge and then you have success yourself ... That's the hope, is developing a culture, the people the have done it then embody those principles and teach it to the next group and who else comes in."
Is social media worth it?
Garrity was also asked about the role of social media with today's players, and whether he'd be active in helping monitor any missteps. (see: George, Paul). I can't imagine this falls under Garrity's direct purview, but he offered a sensible answer nonetheless.
"I don't know necessarily if that's something day to day, but certainly something that we're doing," he said. "And you've just seen the things that are going on this summer where guys put themselves in psitions that they shouldn't be in.
"I think certainly one of the things that we're going to be doing are from the training aspects, before you even get guys in that situation, equipping them with how to interact on social media, the things to stay away from , the things to be aware of. So yes, the monitoring thing is important, but I think more important is the training aspect of it."
Despite the potential for controversy, though, Garrity isn't in favor of asking players to stay off social media completely, which is good news for anyone entertained by @AndreDrummondd.
"It's interesting because there's usually limited upside for guys to opine on social media because things are taken out of context. At the same time, one of the valuable things about the NBA and the product is that you have terrific personalities and you want to allow guys to be able to touch and interact with their fans in really a genuine way. Social media provides that platform. But it also comes with the things that you're mentioning, a lot of opportunities to have pitfalls and to create distractions that you don't need."