Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Real Reason Spurs Players Are Underrated


In the next two weeks, we’re going to hear all the explanations for why the Spurs get so little publicity. The most popular reasons – they’re businesslike, they feature an unselfish balanced attack, and they play in a small market – are somewhat accurate. However, the main reason Spurs players get so little publicity is simple – they don’t play a lot.

San Antonio did not have a single player average 30 minutes per game during the regular season. Every other NBA team had at least two, and most clubs had three or four. What does this have to do with publicity? Most of the media still uses meaningless per game stats for evaluation, and it is hard to shine in these categories while getting so few minutes per game.

Only one Spurs player, Tony Parker, ranked among the league’s top 50 in points per game (minimum: 1,000 minutes played), and he placed 45th. Points per 40 minutes, which evaluates scoring far better, tells a completely different story. San Antonio placed four players in the top 50 in points per 40 minutes – Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Patty Mills) – which tied the Suns for most in the league.

The Spurs had five players among the top 50 in John Hollinger’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating), with Kawhi Leonard joining the aforementioned group. That led all NBA teams. Their NBA Finals opponent is the only other team with four. PER also does not get impacted by playing time.

Parker ranked just 15th among point guards with 16.7 points per game. However, he placed seventh with 22.7 points per 40 minutes. He doesn’t play nearly as much as other elite point guards, and that’s the main reason he gets less attention.

Given the rapid growth of the San Antonio market – combined with the soaring population of Austin just an hour and a half to the north – it’s not exactly remote. The Spurs also do not possess a balanced attack. Four San Antonio players attempted 15 or more field goals per 40 minutes. Only the Pistons (five) had more. The Spurs scoring appears balanced because Gregg Popovich distributes playing time so evenly, but Parker, Duncan and Ginobili all have high usage rates.

Like so many topics in sports that get overanalyzed, the truth is in the numbers.
 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It’s All about Content, and Agents Can Cash In


Five current trends add up to an amazing opportunity for sports agents, which can have a huge impact on their bottom line.

·         Sports fans continue to crave more specialized content.
·         Search engines now value interesting, original content.  
·         Sports agents have unmatched access to their clients.
·         The cost of production – to put quality content out to the public – is lower than ever.
·         Innovative sports metrics and data make stories on players even more compelling.

As detailed in February’s Sports Resource Newsletter, today’s younger athletes grew up with technology. They find information – like identifying and comparing sports agents – with Google and online tools. So a high search engine ranking is solid gold territory, yet few agencies have claimed it.

The solution is to generate original content on your clients. The common practice of linking to articles on ESPN.com and team websites is a big negative with search engines, not to mention that it builds their brands instead of your agency’s brand.  So why do it? Nobody knows players like their agents, and nobody can tell their story better.

When you combine this insight with the power of sports analytics and technology, you’ll have an edge when recruiting players – and promoting current clients – that few can match.


The Sports Resource consulted on more than $1 billion in player contracts since 2010. Our data-driven digital solutions combine the power of sports analytics with web development and content creation. Contact Steve Fall at 404-447-1861 or steve.fall@sportsresource.net for a free 15-minute consultation.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Happens Next?

The 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is over, and it’s time to get down to work. So what comes next? While this post is more for people looking to break in or break out in sports, it could prompt ideas for insiders as well.

The best way to reach your dreams and goals is to help somebody else reach theirs. So here’s how to take concepts from the conference and use them to build value for others.

Choose. Sports analytics can do much more than people realize, not less. There are many organizations, companies, and individuals in the sports industry who can gain a competitive advantage with quantitative information. Focus on areas where you can show indisputable proof of its value.  They may not be at the highest level of sports, but they certainly exist.

Think beyond the playing surface. The best opportunities may lie in sports business, where innovation can move as slowly as on the field. Identify things that don’t make sense. For example, why do teams spend millions on a gigantic new video board, and then fill it with per game stats, batting averages, and videos of two hands clapping together?

Create. One way to mine innovative – and valuable – research is to merge two or more different types of data. Combining park effect statistics and weather data is one example, and this impressive study is another.

Compel. Some sports insiders will ignore hard data and evidence no matter what. Will anybody ever convince Jim Boeheim to play his bench more? Fortunately, there are college teams led by coaches that think like Brad Stevens, who are more likely to consider new concepts and welcome analysis from outside sources. The level of acceptance will vary widely at all levels, so find the best targets and demonstrate how analytics will make an impact, either in the win column or bottom line.

Sports may take time to embrace change. But once a team or organization succeeds with a fresh approach, others rush to follow.