Blazers Analytics Manager Ben Falk Joins Sixers Front Office
Apparently the Blazers offseason of front office turnover had one final piece.
A league source told The Columbian this morning that Ben Falk, the Blazers basketball analytics manager has left the team for a promotion in the Philadelphia 76ers organization.
Chris Haynes, formerly of CSNNW.com and now of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer was the first to report that Falk had left the Blazers via twitter.
Ben Falk, #Blazers analytical manager, has left the organization, according to league source. There's been a lot of turnover over there.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 26, 2014
Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play man Mike Barrett tweeted that Falk is becoming the “VP of Basketball Strategy” for the Sixers.
Congrats to Ben Falk. Now VP of Basketball Strategy with Philly. Huge step up for a good guy.
— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) September 26, 2014
According to the Trail Blazers media guide, Falk is from Maryland and his hometown of Patomac is about a 3-hour drive to Philadelphia. So, it appears as though he is going back to his East coast roots and taking a promotion.
Going back home is so en vogue these days.
Falk had become well known in the basketball community for his excellence in analytics. That was especially true after ESPN The Magazine’s Jordan Brenner wrote about him and the Blazers in the 2012-13 season.
Look deeper, though, and Stotts is no standard retread. Most NBA coaches don’t spend five years living in Guam as a child. They don’t study zoology or get an MBA. And good luck finding any other NBA coach who developed his own formula for pace of play, as Stotts did as a Sonics assistant in the ’90s. “I had a big old spreadsheet and input all the numbers by hand every 20 games,” he says. Considering that he created it during basketball’s Dark Ages, his formula bears a remarkable resemblance to today’s method of tabulating possessions. Stotts, it turns out, was always analytically inclined. So you can see why he’d click with a guy called Wiz.
Wiz prefers his given name, which is Ben Falk; actually he’d rather you not know of him at all. The Blazers basketball analytics manager wants to stay in the background. But during a practice in January, when Stotts was praising his players for climbing from last in the league in defensive efficiency to 23rd, he seized the opportunity to put Falk on the spot. “Ben’s got a lot of opinions,” Stotts said. “So Ben, here’s your chance to address the team.”
Falk, nearly choking on his tongue, muttered, “Keep doing what you’re doing.” It’s what you’d expect from a guy who looks like a shaggy Harry Potter, only with a yarmulke. But Falk isn’t a stereotypical number cruncher; he doesn’t even have a math background. Instead, he’s a 24-year-old Orthodox Jew from the DC suburbs who, despite never having played organized hoops, has always been an obsessive basketball fan. He got a perfect score on the SAT and quotes everyone from Mark Twain to Calvin Coolidge. “I liked him immediately because he’s not just a guy behind a computer,” Olshey says. “He can’t play dead in a cowboy movie, but he’s a basketball junkie.”
Originally an intern with the Nuggets the summer before his sophomore year at the University of Maryland, Falk worked remotely as a consultant for the Blazers until he graduated. Now in his fifth season, he is already paired with his fourth general manager, and Stotts is his second coach. Yet with his staff — one part-timer and an intern — Falk has maintained a relentless dedication to improving the Blazers’ analytical capabilities and developing proprietary tools, the contents of which he won’t disclose. What Falk will say is that before Stotts arrived in August, the bulk of his work was used by team brass for personnel decisions.
I suggest you read the rest of that article which offers a unique look behind closed doors with the Blazers.
UPDATE 12:40 PM: Joe Freeman of The Oregonian has news of Falk’s replacement
Zach Williams, who worked under Falk in the Blazers’ analytics department, was promoted to replace Falk. And Alojz Milosavljevic, a respected international scout, replaced Filippi. Milosavljevic, who lives in Slovenia, has spent the last six seasons as an international scout with the Atlanta Hawks and has 14 years of experience working in the NBA.
Falk’s move is one of many changes that has happened in the Blazers front office this offseason.
News broke yesterday that international scout Jason Filippi had not been retained by the team.
Former college scouting director Chad Buchanan left the Blazers after the playoffs to become the assistant general manager for the Charlotte Hornets.
The contract for former NBA scouting director Michael Born was not renewed in May after 10 seasons with the team.
It hasn’t been an offseason of just departures, however. Cap analyst Joe Cronin was promoted to the position of Director of Player Personnel back in July.
The Blazers have their media day on Monday Sept. 29.