Last week, I mentioned that my paper with my PhD cohort Chris was accepted for the poster session at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. I’ll give the summary and some pictures today (you can find the full paper on my academic website). The project looks at the age old subject of tanking for position in the NBA draft lottery. We answer two questions:
- Should teams tank for a better draft position?
- How much do teams actually tank?
For the first question, we head right to the lottery. We are interested in the causal effect of obtaining the top pick in the draft. If the first pick is truly valuable, then teams should be willing to lose intentionally to get it. LeBron James, Tim Duncan, and Shaquille O’Neal were all first picks, but so were Greg Oden and Michael Olowokandi. We want the average value of all the first picks since the draft lottery took its current form in 1990.
Since there is some randomness in who wins the lottery, Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Causal Analysis, Research Papers
Tagged basketball, causal analysis, do teams tank NBA, how much tanking is there in the NBA, is tanking worth it NBA, is the first pick worth it, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, NBA, NBA draft lottery, NBA draft lottery incentive to tank, NBA first overall picks, NBA lottery rules, tanking, value of the first pick NBA, what is the first pick worth
Since it all began for Jeremy Lin on Saturday, February 4th against the Nets, Jeremy Lin has shot 42-73 from the field (58%!) over four games. Lin’s shooting percentage his senior year at Harvard? 52%. His first four games as the starter for the Knicks are even more anomalous considering that he is only 3-14 from three point range. He shot 60% on two pointers his senior year, compared with 66% over the last four games.
You probably know what’s coming. That’s right, Lin has had a great start to his career, but also a lucky start. Although his performance has transformed the Knicks’ demeanor, don’t expect the insane shooting to continue. Teams will also start backing off on pick and rolls to see if he can reliably make NBA threes. If you still want to jump on the bandwagon, Brother Conor can tell you what to expect.
I also have great news today! One of my submissions to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was accepted for the poster session. The paper (available at my academic website, written with Christopher Walters) estimates the causal impact of NBA draft incentives on tanking as well as the causal impact of winning the NBA draft lottery. In short, we find that teams tank a lot — teams that can improve their draft position by losing have lower winning percentages than teams that can’t by about 15 percentage points. There’s good reason for all this tanking. After adjusting for team quality, winning the draft lottery provides a four year attendance boost (though only a small increase in winning percentage). I’ll explain the details in a future post.
Posted in Basketball, Causal Analysis, Common Sense, Research Papers
Tagged basketball, Brother Conor, Conor Williams, does it help to win the NBA draft lottery, Harvard University, how much tanking is there in the NBA, impact of winning the NBA draft lottery, is tanking worth it, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lin bad three point shooter, Jeremy Lin Chinese, Jeremy Lin Harvard shooting percentage, Jeremy Lin has gotten lucky, Jeremy Lin hype, Jeremy Lin lucky, Jeremy Lin overhyped, Jeremy Lin overrated, Jeremy Lin shooting percentage, Jeremy Lin too much hype, Knicks, Lin, Linsanity, National Basketball Association, NBA, NBA draft, NBA draft lottery, NBA tanking, New York Knicks, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, too much tanking NBA, why do NBA teams tank
During Kobe’s “hot streak,” I’ve been writing that he’s actually inefficient compared to Andrau Gasnum, the Lakers’ superb tw0-man post presence. I’ve said that he should give up some shots until his efficiency equalizes with Gasnum’s. Adrian the Canadian was quick to send me a Sloan Sports Analytics Conference paper arguing that teams might equalize offensive efficiency too much already. The author (Brian Skinner) uses some network theory for unknown reasons (it’s not related to his point), but the paper boils down to Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Probability Analysis, Research Papers
Tagged Adrian the Canadian, Andrau Gasnum, Andrew Bynum efficient, basketball, Brian Skinner, equalizing offensive efficiency, Kobe Bryant, Kobe Bryant dumb, Kobe Bryant efficiency, Kobe Bryant macho, Los Angeles Lakers, marginal benefit, marginal cost, NBA, Paul Gasol efficient, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference
Last year, I ran across an article analyzing whether high altitudes matter in South American international soccer. The authors run regressions with the away team’s altitude change as an explanatory variable and find that climbing but especially descending hurts the away team. Descending 2,000 meters seems to lower away team winning percentage by over 10 points. Pretty surprising finding.
However, these regressions only control for home team quality. It just so happens that Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia (i.e., the descending teams) are historically weak teams. What we have here is omitted variables bias — the naive analysis implies that descending harms performance, when in reality descending teams just aren’t very good.
On my quest for causation, Continue reading
Posted in Causal Analysis, Research Papers, Soccer
Tagged altitude, bolivia, brazil, causal analysis, colombia, ecuador, fixed effects, la paz, regression, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, soccer, south america, world cup