Even though we’ve heard a lot of talk coming from the 76ers these days about their plans to infuse more analytic analysis into evaluating all things, you don’t get the feeling that they are by any means going to go off the deep end with it.
During the team’s search for a new general manager, there was much talk of adding a guy experienced steeped in applying analytics (think baseball’s Billy Beane and “Moneyball”) to the front office. However, we now know, with the hiring of Tony DiLeo the Sixers still value the tried-and-true talent evaluator to handle the day-to-day operations of their front office.
This is not to sell the analytic’s role short, not at all. When DiLeo had the second of two interviews for the position with team owner Josh Harris, Harris made it abundantly clear that the front office would incorporate and place significant emphasis on hiring someone to ascribe value to draft picks, free agents and anything else player related that goes beyond pure talent evaluation.
“I have a formula that I have been using,” DiLeo said, “but what we are planning will take it to a whole different level of advanced analytics. That’s the approach the ownership group has. They want to make sure that our front office has every advantage. It’s important to them to make sure that nobody is better prepared to make decisions.”
Analytics will play a large role in making the more nuanced decisions. For instance, making the trade for Bynum, a giant 24-year-old, two-time all star capable of 20 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and multiple changed shots per night (and the fact that he’ll require nightly double teams in the center-poor Eastern Conference), probably didn’t require a whole lot of deep thinking and numbers crunching by the Sixers to determine the benefits of adding him.
“You can’t let it dominate your decisions; there has to be a happy marriage,” is how DiLeo described it.
DiLeo says that throughout the league there are teams who use analytics to a very high degree (he pointed to Houston and Oklahoma City as the top proponents) and some who use it to a much lesser degree.
While DiLeo did not give a time frame for bringing in this person, it is clear that the team is focused on making this happen much sooner rather than later.