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A look at Wayne Winston's work with the Knicks

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Yahoo! profiles the man who, it turns out, provides a lot of the statistical data the Knicks use.

This sly devil's got a secret partner.
This sly devil's got a secret partner.
Chris Trotman

You may or may not have heard of Wayne Winston, the stats expert best known for the book Mathletics and his years spent running the numbers for Mark Cuban's Mavericks. He's one of a number of guys who worked their way from doing advanced basketball analysis on their own time to helping teams directly, supplying the logic for some of their most important decisions. Winston and his partner, Jeff Sagarin, still operate privately, but as this Yahoo! article written by Bryan Chu and turned up by YuckFou explains, the Knicks count among their chief clients:

After every Knicks game Winston emails a detailed report to 15 Knicks staff members, including members of the coaching staff up to the front office. Included in the report is the effectiveness of each player per 48-minute game, which he and Sagarin calculate by taking the raw plus/minus and adjusting it to the other nine players on the court and the strength of the opponent. The email also includes the best 2-3-4-5 player combinations, best and worst lineups, effectiveness of each player by position, and the impact each player has on the game by quarter relative to the average NBA player (discounting garbage time).

Winston was also the one to point out the statistical success of Carmelo Anthony playing the four and of the unusual Pablo Prigioni-Iman Shumpert-J.R. Smith-Steve Novak-Amar'e Stoudemire lineup that, perhaps coincidentally, took the floor when the Knicks were struggling against the Kings a couple weeks ago and initiated the massive run that turned that game into a blowout win.

Anyway, this is cool to read. The Knicks have gained esteem as one of the league's more stat-friendly teams, and I've long wondered who within the organization holds that responsibility. I'm sure someone in here (Mike Smith, for instance, going by his job title) ogles spreadsheets and fondles abaci all day, but it sounds like the brunt of the work is done by an outside contractor, and a very experienced, self-assured one at that.

With the above in mind, it's interesting looking at stuff like this.