Operations Research Systems Analyst / Denver Nuggets Director of Quantitative Analysis
Go behind the numbers and learn what the U.S. Army and the NBA have in common.
I'm Major Jeffrey Adams. I'm an Operations Research Systems Analyst at Fort Knox, Kentucky. I'm army strong and I've got skills. My job as an Operations Research Systems Analyst is to look at data and try to figure out how to help leaders make better decisions. There's a lot of data that we look at, there's a lot of statistical analysis that we do. You have to like math cause a lot of what we do is we look through data and we try to find that golden nugget of information that can help leaders make better decisions.
My name is Dean Oliver. I'm the Director of Quantitative Analysis with the Denver Nuggets and I've got skills. To do this job, there's a few things that are very important. One is an understanding of what numbers can do: how they answer questions. But then the other part is translating that into words. There's a basketball language. You need to know how to translate between that language and the math. I learned a lot about the game through numbers. What I 'm hoping to do is increase the percentage of their use in terms of winning a game, increasing the quality of the product that is out there.
Major Jeff Adams: Hi, how's it going? I'm Major Jeff Adams.
Dean: Hi I'm Dean Oliver. Good to meet you.
Major Jeff Adams: Welcome to Fort Knox. I'm gonna show you around.
Major Jeff Adams: I met Dean this morning and I brought him over to my cube 'cause that's where I do most of my work. What I do here is on the front part of the army of bringing people into the army are helping market to those people and we want to bring in good people 'cause we want a good army.
I was part of a working group where we try to evaluate, what are the attributes, for instance, of an officer? You know, can we translate those attributes or characteristics to a front end of somebody being at West Point or ROTC or it may be even at the high school level.
Dean: There's a lot of different metrics, measures that you can use to evaluate people. In his case he's using metrics to evaluate the right people for the military and a lot of different jobs that exist within the military. You're optimizing to a lot of different numbers. That's definitely a little bit more challenging than what I have to do. In that aspect, it is. My data sets come from a number of different leagues. His come from a lot of different sources, sources that may not have come in languages that go into different surveys, different people writing different questions. I don't have near that problem.
Major Jeff Adams: He's trying to figure out how do my skills relate and those skill sets in a lot of ways are the same. You just use it a different way. Dean: I didn't realize they look so much at how they identified candidates for the military.
Major Jeff Adams: I'm looking forward to meeting him on, on his turf and you know, seeing what he does and seeing how our jobs relate.
Dean: Welcome to my office. I talked to Major Adams about some of the things that I can feed on to the management and to the coaching staff. Just as you guys do, you're trying to recruit the best talent to work in the Army. We have certain needs that we have on our team. We're trying to identify what roles we need filled. I showed him the structure of what builds a team and the four factors that really go into that. One of the things we do when we're scouting players is we're looking to maximize the offensive ability of our team. So when we're looking to build our team, we're focused on increasing our offensive rating, which is points per hundred possessions. That's built around four different things: effective field goal percentage, turnovers, there's offensive rebounding percentage, and there's how often you get to the line, free throw rate. This is the story, in many ways, of what makes a good offense or on the flip side, what makes a good defense.
Major Jeff Adams : This is very similar to what we do, in terms of trying to figure out who do we need to try to bring in to our Army and that will, that will fit well with what we're trying to accomplish.
Coach George Karl: Hi.
Major Jeff Adams: Hi. How are you? I'm Major Jeff Adams.
Dean: We were able to introduce Major Adams to Coach Karl. As usual, George as his very friendly, open self.
Coach George Karl: Some of his reports, I can't understand. (Laughing) I need a, I mean this is English, but I go, can you just interpret it?
Major Jeff Adams: The first thing I noticed about George Karl was that he was very honest. What does he bring to the table for you?
Coach George Karl: There's no question now that the amount of quality of statistics has gotta be looked at and Dean gives us a large portion of it and I try to bite off whatever I can to put into the strategies of a game plan. You know there've been a couple times that we've you know, gone against my actual sense going into a game. Saying, well let's see what, let's ride what Dean says.
Major Jeff Adams: You know, I appreciate that he has an open mind for new ways cause he has been coaching for a long time and he's been very successful in what he does.
Coach George Karl: There is gonna be formulas and stats that kind of can eliminate the bad and maybe magnify the good and then if you could ever get really good is if you could evaluate character and winning and substance of the, of what's inside a player, what's inside to make him.
Dean: Major Adams is trying to build a much better army, but he has to make some of the same kind of decisions regarding quantitative data, qualitative data.
Major Jeff Adams: My discussions with Dean today reconfirmed that he tries to do analysis that helps out Coach George Karl and the general manager. Very similar to what I try to do, I try to do analysis and research and help our leaders make better decisions.
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