This is a review of the thesis written by Jonathan Mills regarding sports analytics decision making in the national basketball association.
For years, coaches in the NBA have used basic statistics and experience to evaluate teams and players. More advanced analytics continue to become more readily available. The trick is deciphering what these statistics mean and how they should affect your decision-making. This research was conducted through an interview and survey process. One representative from half of the teams in the National Basketball Association participated in the process.
Results of the interviews indicated that all participants felt that analytics are an important tool for making qualified decisions. They also believed that analytics and traditional evaluation methods such as scouting players, watching film footage, or conducting workouts worked best when used in conjunction with each other. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Traditional evaluation tools are subjective and, as a result, are often biased. They are also limited to a small sample size. However, they provide first hand information and context regarding the player and his background. Analytic tools are objective and, therefore, have no bias. They are also based on a large sample size. However, they are lacking context, those intangibles that make individual players stand out from the others, intangibles that can lead to a player becoming a star in the league. Therefore, it is optimal for coaches and other decision makers to develop a plan of how to include both types of information in a manner that provides optimal data to help them make informed decisions.
Historically, traditional evaluators and analysts have often not seen eye to eye and, at times, seem to work at cross-purposes. In order to maximize the potential of the information received from both sources this lack of agreement needs to be resolved. Both groups need to have an understanding of what the other is doing and why they are doing it. Outcomes will become much clearer when the two groups understand each other and are working towards a common purpose. This will give their teams the best data possible to make both major and minor decisions.
The majority of teams do not have an organizational system in place to help them balance all of the information they receive. One possible method would be to assign values to the different pieces of information. Another method would be to pull out key points from each type of information and put them together to create a more rounded picture of the player or team they are evaluating. There is not just one method for balancing the information and each decision maker will need to decide for themselves the best way to organization all of the information received, both from traditional methods and analytics, in order to maximize their decision making process. After all, the goal is to win games and ultimately a championship.
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