Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors, and the power of analytics at work — Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From MIT Sloan Management Review

Whether or not their 2016 season ends with a second consecutive NBA championship, the Golden State Warriors are making Silicon Valley proud. They broke the record for regular season wins with 73. They are headlined by Stephen Curry, the dynamic and eminently likeable two-time MVP. They have established themselves among the league’s elite franchises.

Like the “unicorns” along Highway 101, the Warriors have done it all with a deep organizational commitment to data-driven decision making – both on the court and as a business. The three-pointers Steph and running mate Klay Thompson hoist seemingly without abandon are actually grounded in troves of evidence supporting the shot’s relative value. Meanwhile, the business side of the organization is leveraging fan data to more effectively drive ticket, sponsorship, and merchandise revenue.

The Warriors are not the only team pioneering the analytics revolution in sports. Organizations across an increasing number of sports and levels (professional, college, and high school) are capitalizing on data to gain a competitive edge. Indeed, few industries have implemented data-driven decision making as successfully as sports.

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MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Q&A with Co-Chair Daryl Morey

Daryl Morey, MIT Sloan MBA ‘00

As General Manager and Managing Director of Basketball Operations for the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey MBA ’00 has built a team that has gone a combined 227-167 (.576) over the last five seasons and has set a number of team records. In 2010, his innovative integration of statistical analytics into the evaluation of NBA talent, earned Morey selection to the SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40, which honors the most promising young executives in sports business under the age of 40. Prior to Houston, he served as SVP of Operations for the Boston Celtics.

Morey is also the co-chair of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a sports forum he founded in 2007 with Jessica Gelman of the New England Patriots. The conference—dubbed the “Super Bowl of sports analytics” by one ESPN columnist—examines the application of data and statistics to improve team and league performance. The fifth annual conference wrapped up over the weekend with its biggest numbers yet: five stages, 39 panels, and close to 3,000 attendees.

The MIT Sloan Experts Blog caught up with Morey recently. An edited transcript follows. Read More »

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: If you build it, they will come

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDXSoRLj8PY&w=560&h=315]

In 2007, Daryl Morey, MIT Sloan MBA ’00, and Jessica Gelman of The Kraft Sports Group had a vision to build a forum for innovation in sports. Just five years later, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference developed into that and more. With more than 2,200 participants, the conference grew by 50% from 2011 and featured some of the biggest names in the industry, including Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner, Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs President and GM, Mark Cuban, owner of the world-champion Dallas Mavericks, and Bill James, the founder of the sports analytics movement. It even included Drew Carey, owner of the MLS Seattle Sounders and Price is Right host. Read More »

Can Watson pick a point guard? Sports analytics shows the way

 

I’m supposed to be pretty good at statistical-based predictions, but I could not have predicted how much the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytic Conference would grow in just five years. The success is not just in attendance – this year’s March  4-5 event was another sellout – but in the range of topics, sports, and speakers. And that reflects a bigger trend:  analytics has expanded not just within sports such as baseball and basketball where it has been accepted, but to other professional leagues, such as hockey and football.

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