Friday, March 12, 2010

Hawks One of 3 Teams Headed to the Playoffs Without the Help of an In-house Statistical Analyst

I don't think this news is a surprise to anyone but The Wall Street Journal's David Biderman did the leg work:
According to interviews with every team, The Wall Street Journal found that half the league's teams this season have at least one of these statisticians who helps make in-game, draft-day and trade-deadline decisions. Many of these teams are among the NBA's best. The list accounts for all six division leaders, including the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks, who have a data analyst traveling with the team. These 15 teams that have invested heavily in statistics have combined to win 59.3% of their games this season. The 15 teams without such analysts have won 40.7% of their games, and only three—the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks—are on pace to make the postseason.
Henry Abbott brought it to my attention:
There are a ton of things NBA teams all have to have. Stadiums, money and tall athletic people top the list.

Just like when you're driving to work, you need a car, gas and roads.

However, that doesn't mean you don't value a new shortcut on your drive. If someone teaches you about some side road that avoids traffic, or a nice little back alley that saves a few minutes ... that makes a difference.

In the big picture, you're still driving to work, like everybody else. If you get a flat tire, you get a flat tire, and you're going to be late. But most days, some extra knowledge sure can help you get to work a little more efficiently.

The same picture is evolving in managing an NBA team. Some may say it's not worth worrying about all the particulars of analysis. But there's a strong case to made blowing off that kind of thing could leave you behind.

The discrepancy is big: A 59 -41 difference in winning percentages. In hoops, 59-41 is an old-fashioned blowout.

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