Decision-Making in the NBA: The Interaction of Advanced Analytics and Traditional Evaluation Methods
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Decision-making in the National Basketball Association (NBA) occurs in the three general contexts of player evaluation, team evaluation, and roster construction. This thesis will explore the interaction of two primary methods of evaluating basketball—“advanced analytics” and “traditional evaluation methods”—that must be integrated together to reduce risk in decision-making and achieve competitive advantage. “Advanced analytics” does not have a precise definition, but can broadly be defined in this thesis as “insights gained from quantitative data analysis about basketball.” “Traditional evaluation methods” include any form of observation, such as on-site scouting, live coaching, and game film analysis. Through an interview and survey protocol, this thesis explores methods for quantifying human intangibles, the role of “gut instinct,” NBA organizational structures, as well as the specific strategies and tools in place for key decision-makers to balance all available information. The findings of this thesis are that NBA organizations should formalize their decision-making processes with repeatable strategies and specific tools that align with the strategic plan and vision of the organization, in order to maximize team performance and pursue NBA championships.