The Second Annual NBA Hackathon Presented by Verizon

The Second Annual NBA Hackathon Presented by Verizon

I remember the first Hackathon that I ever attended. I was intrigued by the level of passion, focus and drive that permeated the room. The Second Annual NBA Hackathon was no different.

The NBA Hackathon, held on September 23rd and September 24th in New York City, provided a platform for undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. students, statisticians, engineers and developers to build tools and develop solutions in basketball and business analytics. More than 200 participants forming 60 teams work for 24 hours and present their solutions to a panel of expert judges, including ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Pablo Torre, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and Instagram New York Head of Analytics & Data Science Tamar Shapiro. Prizes were awarded to the top three teams in each track, with a grand prize that include a trip to NBA All-Star 2018 in Los Angeles and lunch with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

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NBA Hackathan

The opening remarks were delivered by Adam Silver, NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe and NBA Senior Vice President of Customer Data Strategy Doris Daif. There were 900 applicants for this year’s event. Ultimately, 207 students were chosen to participate, representing 52 different universities.

The first place prize in the Basketball Analytics track went to Team Stanford Sports Analytics. The consisted of Nicholas Canova, Matt Chen, Ryan Chen, and Vihan Lakshman from Stanford University. This team analyzed the distribution of shots taken across the league and predicted what the average team’s shot chart would look like in 10 years. Additionally, to encourage mid-range shooting, the team recommended a rule change that would change the shot value of mid-range jumpers in a game from 2 to 3 points once a threshold of 16 mid-range shots were made.

First place in the Business Analytics track went to Team Data Buckets (Barbara Zhan Harold Li from Princeton University). This team designed a decision-making tool that scores every game according to their definition of entertainment value.

In addition to the participants, there were more than 40 representatives from NBA teams in attendance to meet and network with the students. Verizon the presenting partner of the NBA Hackathon and SAP serve as an official event partner. As part of the Hackathon on Sunday, Sept. 24, Verizon hosted 15 middle school students from Verizon Innovative Learning, the education initiative of the Verizon Foundation that gives free technology, free access and immersive hands-on-learning to students in need. New York Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was on hand at this year’s event, interacting with the Verizon Innovative Learning students and NBA Hackathon participants.

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