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Part 1: Research Proposal

MY NAME: Ben Seasly


TOPIC: I am studying how basketball analytics affect front office player evaluation.
RESEARCH QUESTION: Because I want to learn how technology has changed the fundamental
judging of talent.
AUDIENCE AND SIGNIFICANCE: In order to help the casual fan understand the processes
behind front office decision-making.
CONTEXT: This issue is important and timely because there has been a recent explosion in the
use of technology and data that allow the fans and front offices to understand the
game more fully.
EXHIBIT: To illustrate my discussion of basketball analytics, I plan to focus on recent history of
trades, free agent signings, and mostly teams that have been influenced by an influx of
analytics.
KEY SOURCES SO FAR:
-"Making Sense of Basketball's Analytics Explosion." University Wire Mar 11 2014 ProQuest.
17 Mar. 2015 .

This is a Journal Article that offers a comprehensive background of my topic.

-Bartholomew, James T., and David A. Collier. "The Role of Contested and Uncontested Passes
in Evaluating Defensive Basketball Efficiency." Journal of Service Science (Online) 4.2 (2011):
33. ProQuest. 17 Mar. 2015 .

This is a Journal Article that lays out exactly how front offices

use this data to benefit their team.


-Ray, Glier, @RAYGLIER, and Sports Special for USA TODAY. "Coaches gobble up analytics."
USA Today n.d.: Newspaper Source. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. This is a newspaper article that
specifically explains how coaches use this data to benefit their team.

-Jensen, Mike. "Sixers' Collins Coaches with Gut Instinct- Not Analytics." Philadelphia Inquirer
30 Oct. 2012: n. pag. Web.

This is a newspaper article that offers a counterargument to even

using analytics in the first place.


-Sean, Highkin, @highkin, and Sports USA TODAY. "Bridging analytics gap." USA Today n.d.:
Newspaper Source. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. This is a newspaper article that offers an overview of
how analytics are being used in general.

Part 2: Exploratory Draft


1) In this paper, I hope to create a paper that can offer a little more transparency on every
NBA basketball fans dream job: the GM. Its hard not to have a conversation about
basketball without drifting into hypotheticals of how If I were running that team, that
player would be gone before dinner or something similar. Figuring out a players real
worth is something that fans can merely be interested and invested in, but for the GM his
job is on the line if he misevaluates a players worth. It only makes sense then that he
would use every tool at his disposal to find the best fits for his team. I plan to argue that
analytics can be extremely beneficial to an NBA team (as long as theyre not the only
evaluating parameters) and that recent critics of analytics (like Charles Barkley, who
famously said that people who use analytics are "a bunch of guys who ain't never played
the game [and] they never got the girls in high school") do not understand exactly what
analytics does.
2) The intended audience includes front office members who want to understand the best
way to craft a team together, to players who want to know what part of their game to
improve in order to become the best player they can be. But mostly my papers audience
is the fans who are fully invested in the game and want to be as knowledgable and

participate as fully as they can in the game. The fans have, until very recently, been led to
believe that former players and coaches are the only ones skilled enough to evaluate
players, but now with this abundance of data, more and more non-former members of the
NBA community are accepting jobs in front offices.
3) I imagine my essay unfolding with a discussion on the logistics of analytics initially:
what they are, how data is taken, what they can do. Going from there I think I would
describe how analytics are used in front offices and coaching rooms today, and contrast
that with how it used to be done, with an emphasis on the Old School vs. New School
line of thinking. I will attempt to claim that analytics can benefit teams greatly, using
examples like the San Antonio Spurs, winners of the NBAs best analytics department,
who created a fully formed team centered on ball movement and spacing and demolished
a Miami Heat team in the Finals that had 3 of the top 20 basketball players in the world.
4) I have mostly found newspaper articles and journal articles about analytics and its
burgeoning relationship to basketball. These articles are recent and in the present, which,
while they are very timely and informative, also means that teams will not completely
reveal the full extent of their operations so that they can hold a competitive advantage
over their still-present opponents. My audience might expect evidence of a specific
signing or draft pick that was influenced solely by analytics or solely by old school
thinking and use that as an example. The fact of the matter is, however, that GMs (good
ones, at least) are not in the business of revealing their thought processes for such
instances so that they can stop other teams from predicting their next move. This might
provide fodder for people who disagree with my claim, but hopefully I can prove that
there is enough of a correlation between teams that use analytics fully and success that I
can still prove my claim.

5) My concerns coming in to this project were that there would not be nearly enough
sources to reference on this topic, but as I searched through the ND library website, I was
happily surprised to find that there are numerous articles written on this topic. My
concern with that multitude of articles, though, is the potential for accidental plagiarism
at the worst, or simply rehashing ideas that have already been argued at the least. I
anticipate running into problems simply with sifting through the research and deciding
which atricles are relevant and which to use in my paper.