Monday, June 13, 2011

Analytics geeks win NBA championships

The Dallas Mavericks win their franchise first NBA Title.  They won their first championship by beating teams that everyone thought they could not beat.  The Mavericks were able to beat juggernauts like the Los Angeles Lakers, a fast paced Portland Trailblazers team, up-and-coming youngster superstars in the Oklahoma City Thunder and of course the Big Three from the Miami Heat.  As good as the Mavericks were executing on the basketball court they were equally as good executing a between-the-ears approach to basketball.  The Mavericks were able to win the game by studying the numbers of professional basketball.  Some of the champions on the Mavericks team may not be able to hit even 10% of three pointers but they sure know how to analyze a winning combination.

The analytics culture starts with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.  According to ESPN when Mark Cuban was looking for a coach he studied games and found out that Rick Carlisle used the most efficient lineups most frequently.  Mark Cuban hiring Rick Carlisle to coach the Mavericks was a no-brainer because the numbers do not lie.  As for Rick Carlisle, he is known for being a very cerebral coach and very handy with crunching NBA statistics as well. 

Another known fact about the Dallas Mavericks is that they use an analytics staff to gain a competitive edge.  Most recently they have retained the NBA analytics stat guru Roland Beech of  In the past they had used the services of Wayne Winston, an Operations Research professor, to help analyze their lineups to be more competitive.

Mark Cuban gives a lot of attention to the geeks for Mavericks winning.  From the ESPN article

I give a lot of credit to Coach Carlisle for putting Roland on the bench and interfacing with him, and making sure we understood exactly what was going on. Knowing what lineups work, what the issues were in terms of play calls and training.

That is a lot of brainpower on the bench in every game.  It is good to see the geeks get their due.  Way to go Mavericks and looking forward to seeing what the geeks put on the court next season!

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