Monday, July 2, 2012

March Madness greatness predicts NBA greatness

Using a detailed personally-assembled data set on the performance of collegiate and professional basketball players over the 1997-2010 period, we conduct a very direct test of two questions. Does performance in the NCAA “March Madness” college basketball tournament affect NBA teams’ draft decisions? If so, is this effect the result of decision making biases which overweight player performance in these high-visibility college basketball games or rational judgments of how the players later perform in the NBA? ... First, unexpected March Madness performance, in terms of unexpected team wins and unexpected player scoring, affects draft decisions. ... Second, NBA personnel who are making these draft decisions are certainly not irrationally overweighting this MM information. If anything, the unexpected performance in the March Madness tournament deserves more weight than it gets in the draft decisions. ... Players with positive draft bumps due to unexpectedly good performance in the March Madness tournament are in fact more likely than those without bumps from March Madness participation to become one of the rare NBA superstars in the league.
--Casey Ichniowsi and Anne Preston, "Does March Madness Lead to Irrational Exuberance in the NBA Draft? High-Value Employee Selection Decisions and Decision-Making Bias," on evidence for the adage that winners just know how to win