AirTalk for June 6, 2013

The 'Moneyball' of basketball

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Seven

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

David West #21 of the Indiana Pacers attempts a shot in the second half against Chris Andersen #11 of the Miami Heat during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs on June 3, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane changed the way professional baseball recruits and builds teams. Now, a 20-something medical student at Stanford is looking to bring the same magic of statistical analytics to basketball.

Muthu Alagappan was interning at Ayasdi, a Palo-Alto-based startup when, on a whim, decided to feed the company’s proprietary data analysis software with NBA stats. The results led to him to the discovery that there are actually 13 player positions in basketball, as opposed to the standard 5. So instead of point guards or centers, you have "low-usage ball-handlers" or “mid-range big men”—more sophisticated and precise designations of what players do on the court. Better and more information, Alagappan believes, could help general managers and coaches curate better and more well-rounded teams.

Alagappan unveiled his discovery at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2012, and took home first prize. NBA teams like the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers have come knocking, wanting to find out more about what Alagappan has to offer.

Guest:
Muthu Alagappan, medical school student at Stanford School of Medicine at Stanford University who  came up with these 13 new basketball player positions


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