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Applying 'Moneyball' Methods To The NBA

Jul 3, 2013
Originally published on July 4, 2013 7:10 am

You’re probably familiar with the Brad Pitt movie, “Moneyball” — or the book it was based on by Michael Lewis. The financially strapped Oakland A’s, unable to afford the best players, put together a successful team using data analysis.

Houston native and Rockets fan Muthu Alagappan is trying to do the same for basketball.

He’s a Stanford medical student and a math whiz with a dramatic argument: If you run the numbers, they show that the five basic positions in basketball don’t reflect how the game is played.

Both the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers have brought Alagappan on as a consultant, and Forbes puts him in the list of the 30 most influential people under age 30 in sports, along with the likes of six-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and Heat forward LeBron James.


Muthu Alagappan’s TEDx Talk in April 2013:

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Slate “As someone who grew up on Bill James, I love statistical analysis, but such analysis is only valuable when it tells us something new and true about the game in question. If there is such illumination to be found in  ‘From 5 to 13,’ I haven’t seen it.”

Mercury News “Khosla said that Obama was particularly intrigued that their proposed redefinition of positions underscored why it worked fine when, say, two traditional small forwards were on the floor at the same time.”


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