Several NBA teams have finalized their rosters this week -- and so has the Heat Index. We're thrilled to introduce Tom Haberstroh as the most recent addition to our team.
Today, there are infinite ways to look at pro basketball. No two writers will offer you the same angle of a specific team, player or game. With the Heat Index, our goal is to provide as many perspectives as possible: What’s the mood inside the locker room? What transpired on the floor tonight? What did we learn about the team’s intestinal fortitude? Which players are proving to be most useful? What do these numbers really mean?
Basketball is a game filled with mysteries, and Haberstroh is a junkie with the curiosity to unwrap them. While most of us are debating hypotheticals, Haberstroh is off looking for definitive answers. He can tell you why all assists aren't created equally and why drawing a charge might be the most valuable play you can make on defense.
I asked Haberstroh for some personal context about how he came to do this kind of stuff for ESPN Insider, where he's been a contributor for almost two years. Here was his response:
I started a blog in college. My motivation was to transform my analytical ideas into something real. I was bored with the conventions of sports journalism, so I sought to change that. I was addicted to analyzing sports ever since I was a kid so this was a logical step for me. I guess I fit into that rare breed of jocks who felt equally passionate about statistics and the game itself.
At the end of college, I thought I would take my degree in economics to Wall Street, but I had this nagging feeling that while I was bred for a finance career, I was born to break down sports. So I turned down a big opportunity to be a financial advisor and accepted a part-time job at ESPN working in the Stats & Analysis department. Without that blog, I would have never gotten a first interview. By the end of my year there, I was fully supporting ESPN Insider with research and analytics while occasionally providing my own content. My big break? The D.R.A.F.T. Initiative where I built a NBA draft database of advanced stats that produced a dozen or so stories for heavyweights like Ric Bucher, John Hollinger, and Eric Neel. That's when I saw the potential of basketball analytics and it's role in advancing the conversation.
Lucky for me, it seemed people were ravenous for this type of analysis and I kept writing and writing and writing. For Hoopdata, for Hardwood Paroxysm, for ESPN Insider. I mixed reporting, statistics, and hard basketball theory to reveal the underappreciated aspects of the game. It's my opinion that data-driven storytelling is the future of sports coverage.
Tonight, the Heat will begin to build a body of work that we will examine with a microscope over the next six to eight months. We're fortunate to have Tom Haberstroh's eye looking through that lens.