New York Knicks bolster analytics department under Leon Rose

NY Knicks, Leon Rose (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NY Knicks, Leon Rose (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks beef up their analytics department by hiring Kelsey Roberts.

The New York Knicks continue to build their analytics department as the team hired Kelsey Roberts to be a full-time database/basketball analyst, as recognized by Seth Parnow in a list of current analytics staff members across the NBA earlier this month, and later noted by Alder Almo and Mike Scotto.

This comes one month after the team hired Sean Maclean as a Basketball Strategy Lead. Almo coincidentally broke the MacLean news nearly a month earlier after finding his post on LinkedIn. Roberts may potentially be one of the first women to work within the Knicks front office.

Roberts graduated from Xavier University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. She spent two years working at the cosmetics company Kao Corporation before enrolling full-time at the University of Arkansas to pursue a Master’s Degree in Statistics.

Kelsey Roberts brings data experience to the Knicks

Between 2018-19, Roberts interned with both the Indiana Pacers & Miami Heat in their analytics departments. It was in those internships that she utilized her knowledge in database programming (Python, R, SQL, etc.) to improve the quality of basketball metrics that would be sent to the coaching staffs.

This included creating databases to store play-by-play data, automating processes, and creating ad-hoc reports. While with the Heat, Roberts spent more time looking at the processes from a high-level perspective to find opportunities to streamline processes and integrate data. These two internships showed how Roberts intertwined the technical knowledge of database management with the basketball knowhow of game data.

Outside of the mere fact Roberts interned for two of the biggest rivals in Knicks history, it’s very encouraging to see Leon Rose and the front office bolster their analytics team. It’s quite evident the Knicks never invested in a full-scale analytics infrastructure.

Roberts’ role clearly looks geared towards building databases that can churn real-time information to be sent to the coaching staffs to monitor player and team development. The Knicks only had three full-time personnel that dealt with analytics – Mike Arcieri, Mike Smith, & Richard Dry – this past season.

Roberts will most likely work with this team, which The Athletic has reported will expand under Rose, while potentially coordinating with MacLean and the Basketball Strategy team – led by Brock Aller – in terms of furnishing the appropriate data metrics.

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Many teams in the NBA spent years building a comprehensive analytics department, including an infrastructure that supports data processing and reporting. The Knicks made one small step towards investing in analytics with this hire.