In today’s NBA, front-office decision-makers are leveraging the power of data analytics more than ever to make informed decisions. Benjamin Eidelberg ’15, MS ’16, is doing his part in helping the Washington Wizards change the game.
Now in his seventh season with the team and currently serving as director of basketball strategy and analytics, Eidelberg’s responsibilities include using data to support roster building, contract negotiations, free agency and trade deals, and providing the coaching staff or any other organizational department with more information to enhance their decision making.
The embracing of data analytics marks an evolution in the optimization of player performance and organizational operations across the NBA. Eidelberg caught onto the trend as a senior in high school when he served as a video department intern for the Wizards making draft edits and organizing scouting materials for the team and front office employees.
Intending to build on the foundation laid during his internship and aiming for a career in sports, Eidelberg enrolled at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He quickly hit the ground running on campus by joining the men’s basketball team as a student manager assisting with tasks ranging from filming practices to equipment management and later on-court performance support.
Then after his senior year, Eidelberg accepted an opportunity to become a graduate assistant with the team while pursuing a master of science in marketing analytics degree at Maryland Smith.
“Just seeing the word ‘analytics’ and knowing where sports were headed at the time was really the stimulus of my decision-making process. I was very interested in creating any opportunity to distinguish myself. I wanted to give myself an edge at a time when analytics could give me an edge,” says Eidelberg.
Eidelberg immersed himself in both worlds – on the court he continued bolstering his knowledge of the game working closely with the coaching staff. In the classroom, he developed a deeper understanding of data analytics and how it can be applied across contexts.
One major lesson from his graduate experience that Eidelberg says has remained relevant throughout his career in sports is understanding how to efficiently communicate complex information.
“In sports, more than half the battle is communication. You could have the greatest statistic or recommendation possible, but you need to be able to present the case to a decision maker why your information is relevant and explain why it can help them in a manner that is easy to understand,” says Eidelberg.
One way he hones those communication skills is as an adjunct lecturer at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism teaching a basketball data analytics course. Being in the classroom, he says, provides an ideal instructional environment while offering a way to stay involved in the UMD community.
“I put myself in the shoes of a 20-year-old student that wanted to work in basketball or be involved in the sports industry. It’s a class I would have wanted to take especially if I had no other way of talking to industry professionals,” says Eidelberg. “I hope that’s how it’s viewed and I’m passionate about providing those students with the best possible experience.”
At Maryland Smith, Eidelberg currently serves as a member of the alumni advisory councils and enjoys engaging in conversations with students to pay forward the mentorship and networking that he says played a significant role in shaping his career.
“I love helping undergraduate students accomplish their goals or learn about what opportunities exist for them,” says Eidelberg. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without people helping me along the way. These are relationships and connections that will benefit them, the University of Maryland and maybe one day the Wizards too.”
As for his current career plans, Eidelberg says he’s always focused on staying in the moment and abides by the mentality he adopted as a student manager.
“Do what needs to be done before anyone needs to ask you to do it. Be proactive, do what’s necessary and success will follow,” says Eidelberg.
Media Relations Manager
About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.