We know Mark Gottfried is adept at constructing efficient offenses. Heck, that was one of the few things we knew for sure when Gottfried took the NC State job five years ago. His Alabama teams finished in the top 50 in offensive efficiency five times. His NC State teams have never finished lower than 33rd.
But how does his ability to establish an efficient offense rate against his fellow coaches? Sports Illustrated did a study based on statistical factors from the last 10 years in an effort to determine which current head coaches are the best at building elite offensive units. You can read the details of their process--and see all of the results--in this article by Luke Winn and Dan Hanner.
They start with a familiar concept in the statistical analysis of sports: wins above replacement. Essentially, they create a baseline for an average team: "a squad of three-star recruits whose careers develop at an average rate." Then they rate the coaches on a series of factors and compare them to average.
Gottfried checks in at No. 23 out of the 90 coaches eligible for this study. The top three are all ACC coaches.
He's above average in four of the five categories SI weights in its overall evaluation, but he is dinged heavily in the talent retention category. He's dinged so badly, that if he were only average in that category, he'd easily vault into the overall top ten.
Here's why he'd otherwise rate highly: he does well on the recruiting trail, and SI found that he is one of the nation's best at "in-season development and optimal deployment." From the article:
This is where basketball instruction and game strategy is factored into the study, by measuring two things: how much a coach's players outpace SI's preseason efficiency projections on a year-to-year basis--aka "offensive development"--and how well a coach maximizes the impact of his best players by putting them in position to take the most shots.
Gottfried is seventh in this category, putting him second in the ACC behind only Mike Brey. While Coach K and Roy Williams rank in the top three overall, neither looks great by this particular standard. (In fact, ol' Roy looks especially bad when it comes to in-season development.)
Getting back to Gottfried, I thought this was interesting not only because it's impressive, but also because it confirms a little bit of what our eyes have been telling us. It's always seemed like his offenses have improved over the course of the season, and that this improvement has helped his Wolfpack teams play at their best in March. This is some statistical evidence backing up that perception.
So no doubtin' the Gott man hasn't lost his touch at the offensive end. If he could solve or at least minimize his problems with roster continuity and team defense (and those two things are probably tied together to some extent), he'd be plenty capable of authoring some breakout seasons.