How ‘Moneyball’ and ‘The Big Short’ Helped Scout New Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have added some great talent to their preseason camp roster. Many of these players were very successful college athletes. Did the theories behind the movies Moneyball and The Big Short play a role in recruiting?
Year after year, it seems as if all the other teams get it right on draft night. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and the short list can go on and on of how these teams have great scouting/developmental departments.
How do they know which player will be an asset on the court? How do they differentiate between potential and realistic productivity in a player? I’m not sure how the Dallas Mavericks do it exactly, but for years it’s been terrible.
Except this year.
I think I’ve figured out a method to the front office madness. Maybe its not Donnie Nelson’s method, but we (Donnie and I) got the same result.
When analyzing a player, scouts look at a variety of different things: athleticism, awareness, height, wingspan, temper, etc. These are the basic fundamentals when scouting a player in high school or college. Thats what everyone knows.
Looking deeper, lets see what “specific identifiers” and “recognizable” traits other successful NBA players had in college and see if that translated onto an NBA roster. Let’s look at their productivity versus minutes on floor. Thats what I did.
I saw that most successful NBA players had a favorable or high productivity rate in college. Then, I applied those to the invites of the Mavericks’ NBA Summer League roster. The results weren’t surprising. What was surprising is that the Mavericks thought the same way.
I know what you’re thinking, “Stats don’t tell the whole story”. You’re right, they don’t, but they do tell a story. The story is that it doesn’t matter if the player is undersized or if he shoots unorthodox. If the player cleans the boards every night out on a consistent basis in college, there’s a great chance he can do it in the NBA.
If the player can penetrate, get assists, and or score every night efficiently then he has a better chance of doing it on an NBA team than most. The video on a player either confirms or disproves the stats.
Its like that whole scene in the movie, “Moneyball” when actor Brad Pitt (playing the Oakland Athletics General Manager, Billie Beane) was trying to implement a new way of scouting players. Beane’s experienced scouting staff scoffed at his approach and was trying to replace a superstar player with another superstar player.
But Beane knew that it wasn’t possible. Instead, he focused on statistical facts. It all came to a head when he reinforced the notion to his most senior scout that it doesn’t matter how a player gets on base, as long as he gets on base, they could use him. The same logic applies to this method of scouting.
This summer, when the Mavericks were announcing their Summer League roster, I took note and statistically (with video) analyzed each player. Two names jumped out of the page: Kyle Collinsworth and Jameel Warney.
My method of studying their stats had them as the two players to watch for and were my favorites to make the team. Here’s how the method works: Add up the averages of all vital stats, points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. Then, divide that amount from the average of minutes played.
The bigger the number above zero, the better production. I’ve created a nice infographic (Collinsworth’s stats on the left and Warney’s on the right) to help follow along and make you a better fan. You’re welcome.
Next: Getting Excited for Andrew Bogut
With training camp getting underway in just a few weeks, keep an eye on Collinsworth and Warney as they could surprise many people come October.