Latest for The Atlantic and Sports Econ at the WEA

My latest for the Atlantic — Why Top NBA Draft Picks So Often Disappoint : Managers seem to think that youth, points scored, and Final Four experience predict college players’ pro performance. History tells a different story — obviously looks at the NBA draft.   It tells three stories.

  1. What decision-makers primarily focus upon in the draft does not predict NBA performance.
  2. The factors that are statistically related to NBA performance are not generally focused upon.
  3. And — as I have said before — we cannot predict with certainty NBA performance.

This last point should probably be a second article.  As I told Andres Alvarez (of BoxScoreGeeks) yesterday, I am not a big fan of draft grades.  Yes, we know that players who rebound and score efficiently in college tend to be better NBA players.  And those who don’t tend not to help much.  But those are tendencies, not destinies.   We do not “know” that any player will be great (or not great) on draft day.   And draft grades very much suggest you “know”.

Okay, I am off to the Western Economic  Association meetings.  The North American Association of Sports Economists has sponsored 20 sessions at the meetings.  In these sessions (entire WEA program is here)  there will by 77 papers presented on sports and economics.  These papers cover a wide spectrum of sports around the world (that is because the presenters are from around the world).  Virtually all presenters are professors (again, from around the world). And virtually all papers will be discussed (i.e. critiqued) by a professor (we might have some graduate students presenting and maybe discussing).

So this is a bit different from the Sloan MIT conference.  First, we have many more papers.  Secondly, there is someone at the meeting who has read the paper and is offering a critique (and this person is actually in a position to offer a critique).  So I think the quality of the academic experience is higher at the WEA. That being said, this is not a media event.  We did have Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com visit a few years back.  Not sure he found our sessions very entertaining (not surprising, since that is not the intention).

We will offer some coverage, though, via twitter. Joshua Price (my colleague at Southern Utah University) will tweeting from the meeting.  He can be followed at @sportseconprof .  I might offer some thoughts as well at @wagesofwins.

- DJ

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