Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's all statistics and money . . . . MoneyBall.

You've probably seen the movie, "Moneyball", or maybe you've read the book (Moneyball by Michael Lewis), so you know the basis. Basically, playing sports can be broken down into statistics, as to if a certain player has a strength in one area, another player (who isn't the best) ends up having one other strength that the first player uses and the team wins. It's a game of numbers, and it's also a way to get a team to play better together, without having the top players and doing it at the best price.

It's complicated, I don't understand all of it, but I get the concept. It's fascinating, but I'm not smart enough to understand how it works together. But, if I did, then I would probably have done better in my statistics class in grad school. I'll let the professional statisticians handle that one.

Recently, Freakonomics' article about this subject discussed how the different stars in the NBA move to bigger markets because it's where the bigger paychecks are. Which, of course, is common sense . . . the bigger stars will always move to the high amounts.  It also touches on how the bigger markets, in general, have a better chance of winning a championship. Again, common sense. But, based on the actual MoneyBall theory, it doesn't have to be this way. You can actually take the players you have, bring in "non-stars" and make a championship team. So why doesn't this happen more? It's really difficult. I know for the fact the Dallas Mavericks have a statistician on the bench every game. It's not a full proof science, I'm sure in more than half the instances it doesn't work. Why? Because we're human and not robots, aka we aren't always consistent. Just because there is an average of how well someone can do something, doesn't mean they are going to hit that average. And teams have off nights of team cohesiveness. So, the exact science part goes away.

So, since it's not exact and it's not guaranteed, the big players go to the big markets. It's easier and higher likelihood of winning. Just look at the Miami Heat. I look at the Oklahoma City Thunder and they only have one, maybe two, really big paychecks, and it's nothing compared to Miami. OKC has figured out a system, and it's just taking time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Miami? They just paid for it, and could because they're a huge market, and they won. But, OKC was right there with them until the end, which goes to show, it can work. That and Kevin Durant is one awesome dude.


  1. I wouldn't base this reasoning on market size alone as I found this information:

    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, the nation’s #16 market. With its 1.581 million TV homes, Miami is nowhere close to New York (#1, 7.515M), Los Angeles (#2, 5.667M) or Chicago (#3, 3.503M). It is, however, barely ahead of Cleveland (#18, 1.526M), Orlando (#19, 1.453M), and Sacramento (#20, 1.409M).

    There is more based on the intrinsic want of winning by the player than money. The NBA salary cap as essentially given every team the opportunity to obtain a "star" player while maintaining a competitive team. With superstar movement among professional sports, that creates visibility for the athlete thus, creating an opportunity for endorsements, which is $$ in the players pocket.

    1. I completely agree with the salary cap, but with teams being able to pay above the salary cap, it still doesn't help the teams that can't pay more. I don't know exactly where you got the market size information, but after working in professional basketball, I don't know that I agree with the rankings. However, I appreciate you bringing the numbers in! Market size shouldn't just be able the money (although that's the main factor), but it also includes number of people in the area, and basically the support of the fans.

  2. Here is the article I pulled my numbers from:

    Although this article is a year old, the numbers won't change over night.