ESPN has a new ranking, listing all professional sports teams by their willingness to accept the value of analytics, the search for those deep stats that can solve team issues. It goes beyond in-game analytics and includes things like basketball operations efficiency, use of biometrics, valuing draft picks.
ESPN does not brook any debate over the value of the movement. It's all good. Here's the description of ESPN's rankings bar and methodology...
ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com unleashed our experts and an army of researchers to rate 122 teams on the strength of each franchise's analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics. After looking at the stats, reaching out to every team and dozens of informed sources and evaluating each front office, we ranked an overall top 10 and bottom 10 and placed each team in one of five tiers by sport.
No surprise: the Nets are near the bottom of the list, finishing 118th out of 122 pro sports teams, with only the San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins, New York Knicks and Philadelphia Phillies below them. Just above them the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's ESPN's description of the team's analytics...
Earlier this season the Nets hired former Kansas City Royals intern Glenn DuPaul, giving the newcomer to basketball statistics and recent college graduate the title of "director of analytics."
Still, our sources familiar with the Brooklyn front office indicate that ownership is behind the team’s investment in analytics, while GM Billy King has little interest. Dating back to his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, King has consistently undervalued draft picks in favor of expensive free-agent contracts. The Nets don’t own their first-round pick outright until 2019, having traded the maximum number of picks in that span to the Boston Celtics along with the right to swap picks this year (with the Atlanta Hawks) and in 2017 (with the Celtics). King infamously tossed a barely protected lottery pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace, allowing the Blazers to nab Damian Lillard.
Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins’ reputation as anti-analytics, which stemmed from clashing heads with a new Memphis Grizzlies front office including analytics star John Hollinger, might be somewhat overstated. Hollins has bristled at input from the front office, but he’s not completely opposed to statistical analysis.
"I’m going to take a breath," Hollins told the New York Post, "and say it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard because every coach uses stats. Now, do I understand some of the stats that are out there that are new? No. But I can learn them."
There are few points to be made here. Beyond the new hire, from a team ESPN ranks near the top of the baseball revolution in analytics, the Nets strength and conditioning coach, Dr. Jeremy Bettle, is a leader in biometics, measuring everything he can down to sleep patterns. The Nets have long had one of the most advanced basketball technology programs, which informs its scouting data base. That database has good value out of low picks like Mason Plumlee, Bojan Bogdanovic, Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson.
The new guy, Glenn DuPaul, is indeed new to the game, but the Nets like him not just for his ability to dig deep but for ability to communicate his findings. Billy King, without commenting on the ranking, had this to say about DuPaul.
"Glenn is very good and has a big impact this season thus far," he told NetsDaily.
The Great Analytics Rankings - ESPN