The Use of Analytics in Basketball

By Glenn Brown

Ten years ago, the play and statistics of the NBA were determined to be meaningless and sometimes annoying for diehard fans and personnel of each organization. General managers and owners would draft players, scout free agents, scout opponents, and lastly, would construct teams based on what they would see live and hear from the front office. That all change with the birth of analytics that was created by the general manager of the Major League’s Oakland Athletics. The man behind this crazy idea was Billy Beane, or the guy most people know from the film “Money ball.” Beane used advance statistics to figure out which players worked for his system and left 60 percent up to what the numbers said, and the other 40 percent to the front office. The question that the reader must be thinking about is, “What does this have to do with the NBA”? Well, this led to current Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey using this idea of advanced metrics to start the trend of player development tracking. The numbers game has revolutionized the NBA in a way that fans and NBA personnel have never witnessed before. Morey’s trend started in 2009 by tracking the way a player plays against certain defenses, the strengths and weaknesses while playing a style, how the player fits in to certain systems, and overall the strengths and weaknesses of teams. This lead to ten teams adopting this type of metric the next year, and currently every NBA franchise uses advanced metrics. This transformation has been used in every aspect of the NBA from which players to draft, the amount of money a player is truly worth, and most importantly which systems will work for certain teams and their coaches. The tracking of analytics has become so involved in the game that some statistics can predict what a player’s stats will be for the rest of their career, and which role a rookie will have in the NBA before stepping on an NBA floor.


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