On September 22, 2018, the NBA hosted the third annual NBA Hackathon at its office in Secaucus, NJ. The NBA Hackathon featured current students and recent graduates that made up 10 teams focused on Basketball Analytics and 9 teams focused on Business Analytics. Competitors were in the NJ Office for 12 hours competing and presenting their projects to various team and league staff, as well as an expert panel of judges.
To tip off the event, Commissioner Adam Silver, NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe, and NBA Senior Vice President of Team Marketing & Business Operations shared their unique perspectives on analytics. NBA Senior Director of Basketball Analytics Hao Meng introduced the logistics and rules for the competition. Before the action began, there was a networking session with personnel from NBA teams and the league office.
Participants worked on a “virtual” project for a month leading up to the event, and completed a 2-hour “sprint” project during the event. The “virtual” project was an open-ended project in which competitors could select a topic of interest within the Basketball or Business sides of the NBA. In the “sprint” project, competitors aimed to solve specific problems posed by the NBA League Office. On the basketball side, data visualization was used to solve the problems that a GM or league office personnel would have. On the business side, participants created Business Intelligence tools to explore social media chatter pertaining to the NBA. As competitors worked to create solutions to these prompts, NBA team personnel assisted in mapping out the projects and presentations.
Before final presentations began, a panel moderated by Jazmine August (NBA) featuring Scott Perry (New York Knicks), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (NBA), Doris Burke (ESPN), and Mark Tatum (NBA) took place. These business and basketball experts discussed breaking into the sports world from their varying perspectives.
Both projects were presented science fair style to our expert judging panel, which included Doris Burke (ESPN), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (NBA), Luke Kornet (New York Knicks), and Howard Beck (Bleacher Report) for the Basketball Track, and Matt Wolf (NBA), Anthony Perez (VenueNext), Jeremy Short (Madison Square Garden Company), and Lewis Tierney (NBA) for the Business Track.
Throughout the event, the NBA Hackathon also hosted a mini-Hackathon for students from the ScriptEd organization, which equips students in under-resourced high schools with the skills, experiences, and connections for careers in technology. The high school students were tasked with creating a website that displayed information about NBA players.
The top three finishers’ projects for each track are described below:
Learning the Possession Map: Deep Representation Learning of Basketball Possessions (Kawhi-Me-A-River – Surojit Biswas, Amaro Taylor-Weiner)
Player Performance Decline and Minutes Played (TRAVeling Violations –Tyler Brandt, Rohan Gupta, Vignesh Namasivayam, Arun Soni)
Defensive Breakdowns: How Defenses Fall Apart (ILoveBasketball – Alan Chen, Gregory Han, Nathan Kou, Brandon Sim)
Optimal Ticket Pricing (Watergoose – Francis Peng, Alex Robson, Jashanjot Sohanpal, Danying Xiao)
Season Ticket Revenue Maximization (NJIT – Jean Darius, Raiha Khan, Bayan Mafarjeh)
League Pass Subscription Structure Reorganization (Triple V Analytics – Vijay Golla, Vinai Rachakonda, Vishnutheja Rachakonda)