The Latest in NBA Data Analytics

Photo: j9sk9s

If you’re the kind of sports stat-head who loves that the Bill James movement has become mainstream in baseball, and you wonder why basketball doesn’t pay more attention to analytics, you may be pleased to read this article and this one about the annual Sports Analytics Conference at MIT Sloan. Yes, the stat-heads are gradually gaining acceptance in the NBA, and are being aided by technology that better tracks the ball and the players themselves. This is something we wrote about a while back in a column about the Celtics’ data man, Mike Zarren.


JBJ

I'm confused, this is the sport that has minute statistics available during and after each game on every move made by players, or attempted and failed, and stattos haven't been popular there?

Denton

Interesting topic!

What I also really want to know is whether NBA games are fixed to some degree or not by the league and/or refs based on the result that will yield the highest revenues, likely through TV ratings. In other words, is there a correlation between expected TV ratings or some other measure of NBA popularity and that team getting more favorable calls in the playoffs? An interesting example would be the '06 and '11 playoffs with the finals Heat/Mavs match-ups. In '11, the nation wanted the Mavs to win, but it was the Heat getting into the finals that made the games so popular, which may have been the reverse case in '06.

I'm also very interested in the "superstar" status calls that seem to be generally accepted by the public, but never acknowledged by the league. How much does this affect games? Could your econometric light perhaps make the league more transparent and true to the spirit of competition, or, if not, break down the any false assumptions fans may have that decrease our enjoyment of the game because of the fear that the ref factor rigs results?

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