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Contrary Opinion | Analytics Slam Dunk?

Analytics No Easy Layup for the NBA

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Broadway
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Re: Mad science -- ND
Broadway   11/12/2012 10:49:46 PM
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@SaneIT, he worked for the Boston Celtics before, and he plays a role with MIT's sports business center. I'd imagine that Money Ball has been around the NBA almost, if not as long, as in the MLB, except that unlike in baseball -- where it's a far more team sport driven by probabilities -- basketball games can be dominated by one or two players on the court.

SaneIT
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Re: Mad science -- ND
SaneIT   11/9/2012 6:54:12 AM
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That makes perfect sense.  I don't know much of the back story, did he work with other teams or the league as a whole or did the rest of the league pick up on what he was doing and imitate it?  In a closed market like a sports league I imagine that is one team is successful everyone else is going to try and figure out why.  I just wonder what his involvement was.

rbaz
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Re: Mad science -- ND
rbaz   11/8/2012 2:34:04 PM
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Broadway, his past success distinguished him, just like all other fields , notariety goes to the successful.

rbaz
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Re: Mad science -- ND
rbaz   11/8/2012 2:20:21 PM
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SaneIT, previously he was using tools unavailable or not identified by the other teams and now they have added it into their process, which evens the playing field. he must now expand or reinvent himself to regain an advantage.

Broadway
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Re: Mad science -- ND
Broadway   11/8/2012 1:11:00 PM
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And @rbaz and others, I don't want it to seem like Morey is the original basketball analytic. He is a major player in the space, and has been educating folks, but plenty of other analytics have been doing their own thing independent of him.

Broadway
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Re: Mad science -- ND
Broadway   11/8/2012 1:09:56 PM
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I think another thing is the quality and availability of data. Some data collection and sets are proprietary and accessed by a select few teams, but the NBA is also working to put data in every teams hands recently -- such as with the StatsCube, described by NBAStuffer as "a new data warehouse tool which the NBA has been developing over the last few years" and launched in 2009.

SaneIT
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Re: Mad science -- ND
SaneIT   11/8/2012 7:32:05 AM
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So you think that maybe he saturated the market and now there's not a niche for him to work in?  That does sound plausible, maybe they have worked enough inefficiencies out of the process that the real differences between the franchises are harder to or more expensive to fix, like signing super stars.

rbaz
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Re: Mad science -- ND
rbaz   11/7/2012 11:31:49 PM
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Broadway, maybe his previous success created greater and better competition. He essentially trained his competition in incorporating analytics to the process. To be fair some degree of luck must come to play as injuries and other factors are beyond measurement and control.

BethSchultz
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Re: Mad science -- ND
BethSchultz   11/7/2012 4:46:48 PM
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Matt, in responding to my Point piece, @mnorth had some great thoughts on this. I think they're worth duplicating here:

"Nearly a decade ago, Nicholas Carr published a controversial article in the Harvard Business Review called IT Doesn't Matter.  In the article, Carr essentially argues for the case presented by the villain Syndrome in Pixar's The Incredibles:  "When everyone's super, no one will be!"

When everyone has access to technology, then technology doesn't give you an edge.  When every team has a front office anaylitics department (or person ;-), it doesn't give that team a competitive advantage.  Effectively, that's what the argument is.

I think about the Moneyball story (via Michael Lewis/Brad Pitt).  When the Oakland A's made the playoffs this year, I think a lot of fans of the book/movie got a little romantic about the analytics that are now inseparably connected with that ball club's front office.  Many of us could envision the special edition DVD with just a black screen added before the credits roll: "Eight years later, the Oakland A's won the World Series."  

Alas, the Tigers dispatched the A's from the AL Divisional Series this fall, leaving romantic fans of both sports and analytics pining for some organization to satisfy our longing by winning a championship (and then attributing it to the data geeks in the office)."

Broadway
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Re: Mad science -- ND
Broadway   11/7/2012 2:55:36 PM
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@Beth, I have to agree that perhaps Morey's success in analytics in basketball has come back to bite him. He and others like him have been so successful over the last decade or so in bringing "Money Ball" to the NBA that now a majority of teams does it, and the benefit that teams gets from analytics is thus less than ever. That said, I do think he is also crumbling under stress and pressures.

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