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Moneyball Statistics Changing Basketball

You probably already knew that there were statistics out there showing that Allen Iverson is only the 36th best player in the NBA. Now we learn that Portland selected LaMarcus Aldridge instead of Adam Morrison in part because there statistics out there showing Morrison should have been a second-round pick.

On Forbes.com Zack O'Malley Greenburg talks about ProTrade--a company that crunches numbers for a variety of clients, including, reportedly, the Blazers.

Not many sports fans know their favorite player's assist-to-dunk ratio. But Ma does. A player may be more valuable if his assists lead to dunks more often than jump shots. Protrade's analytics also spit out the likelihood of a football team scoring on a given drive or its chance of winning the game at any point in time. Protrade recently signed an agreement with ESPN to license its analytics for use on pro football broadcasts, studio shows and ESPN.com, starting this season. Kerns is negotiating similar deals with a number of other big broadcasting companies. One idea being discussed is to display an onscreen "team health chart" that fluctuates along with a team's chances to win. Sports Illustrated regularly runs articles using Protrade's analysis on its CNNSI.com home page, as does MLB.com. Several legal online betting sites have approached Protrade to use its win-probability statistics in a live gambling game.

"The big media companies all do the same thing," says Kerns. "When [Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback] Ben Roethlisberger gets into a motorcycle accident, they all run the same story. There hasn't been too much innovation."

Ma is also using Protrade's database to help pro teams select talent. With the number two pick in the NBA draft this summer, the Portland Trailblazers passed on Adam Morrison, hailed by many as the next Larry Bird, and snagged LaMarcus Aldridge instead. Why? "Our numbers said that Adam Morrison should have been a second-round pick," says Ma.

Here's the best part of the whole thing: "Ma" is Jeffrey Ma, who was a key figure in the book Bringing Down the House. Did you read that book? It's about a crew from Massachusetts Institute of Technology who learned to count cards, and cleverly took millions from casinos before being caught and banned. Ma says he can count cards from up to six packs of cards at once. (He founded ProTrade with former agent and current Diamondbacks part owner Jeffrey Moorad.) I love that this evil genius is now working on behalf of my team.

via Casey Holdahl