Absolutely. The funniest vignette I can describe is the one year where the Blazers were having to use their injury exemptions because so many guys were going down. Greg Oden went down, then Joel Przybilla
went down, and they basically had to apply for multiple hardship exceptions so they could get enough players to even fill out a roster. That same year at the Sloan analytics conference, the Blazers actually sent more
employees to that conference in Boston then they had healthy roster players at the time! They had about nine employees attend!
And this ranged from scouting directors to guys who were number crunchers for them, and Kevin and Tom Penn would go as well. Kevin even gave a speech one year at the conference.
So, there was a clear commitment to the analytical side of things and while maybe they weren't the pioneers like a Darryl Morey, they were certainly in that very early wave of trying to use numbers to enhance their overall ability to scout a player.
And what they called it, and it was pretty simple, was "Eyes, Ears and Numbers."
So when they're looking at a player, say it was a prospect in the Big 12 where Kevin obviously played, and some of their other scouts had really travelled that circuit well, what they were always looking at was doing an in-person evaluation multiple times. That would be the "eyes" component.
They wanted to talk to his coaches, his college trainers, maybe teammates, local media guys that covered the team he played on. All in order to build a composite profile of what that person was about character wise, and that would be the ears component.
And then the numbers component would not only be their normal statistics, but also their advanced statistics, how they thought those statistics would translate to the pros, was there anything they thought that would stick out in terms of efficiencies, etc, etc. There was a lot of emphasis on basic efficiency levels.
Some of their guys who were doing their numbers either had experience on Basketball Reference, or writing about numbers on the New York Times' blog, so these were guys who were very well known within the stats community. They also had a stats projection system so at that they were able to kind of compare their system and where it said they (Portland) would finish in the Western Conference, versus what some of the other projection systems that were out there said. So they could say "yeah, we're pretty confident that we're going to be a top six team," or "top seven," or "our projections says this," etc, etc.
So it's like any of those things you read in Basketball Prospectus or any other well known statistical analytics publications out there. These guys were all over that, and they had some of their own proprietary formulas in terms of ranking college players too, so hopefully that gives you some idea of Kevin's level of commitment. It was not just lip service at all. And actually right before he was let go by the Blazers, Pritchard became a board member of a technology firm, I believe it's located in Washington State, which is our neighbour to the north here in Oregon, so he was a consultant for that firm and clearly takes that idea of forward thinking analytics and all that stuff very seriously.