Sammy Gelfand Rumors
League sources say that the Pelicans are making a hard push to hire Detroit Pistons analytics ace Sammy Gelfand. Enclosed is a New York Times piece I wrote on Gelfand’s rise to prominence with the Golden State Warriors as part of Steve Kerr’s staff. A move to New Orleans would reunite Gelfand with Pelicans head coach Willie Green after they worked together under Kerr with the Warriors.
Gelfand got some prime TV time when the superstar Curry, recovering from a sprained knee, insisted on sitting beside him during multiple first-round playoff games. But his claim to fame during Golden State’s four-season run of roaring success might be his role in helping the Warriors establish 300 passes as their nightly team goal. Golden State was last in the N.B.A. in passes per game, stuck in the 240s, when Kerr succeeded Mark Jackson after a first-round playoff exit to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. Kerr turned to Gelfand to help establish a new benchmark — 300 — which has evolved into the team’s magic number and a symbol of its culture.
There was also an assist from advanced technology. These sorts of stats weren’t easily attainable until SportVU cameras that track every angle of the game were installed in NBA arenas shortly before Kerr took over. Sammy Gelfand, the Warriors’ analytics manager, helped set up this pivotal play too. Gelfand, who worked for the Warriors’ D-League team from 2011 to 2013 and joined Golden State in Jackson’s final season, is the author of the postgame scouting report that always leads with the latest game’s passing total. Kerr used to pound this point every day, As the Warriors became more committed to this concept, their team-wide goal grew as well: They now aim for 320 passes per game, or roughly three per possession.
“It’s amazing how good of a feel they have,” Gelfand said. “I remember a couple times after games, guys would be like, ‘I don’t think we got it.’ Especially early on (in 2014). Once they started to figure out the 300 games, and how they did, vs. the non-300 games, it was incredible to me how they picked it up.” Added Green: “Most of the time when we don’t hit that mark, you can feel it and you know going into the next day in the film session that ‘We didn’t play that well,’ and that number will come up and it’s like, ‘Yeah, it figures. It was nasty.’ It just kind of becomes more instinctual. “Even if you weren’t necessarily a great shooter, you were still a threat, and that’s kind of what this has blossomed into.”