How much is an NBA player worth? Which types of five-man units play best together? What is a rebound worth? What about an assist or a 3-point shot? These are hard statistical modeling problems, whose solutions could put your favorite team in the playoffs. Danny Persia used play-by-play and box score NBA data over many seasons to try to answer these questions. With Dr. Neal, he developed an advanced multivariable statistical modeling technique to measure player value. This yielded surprising results. For example, he showed that just taking a lot of 3 point shots may have a strong positive effect on a team's points scored per possession even if only a very small percentage actually go in the basket!
Danny presented his research with Dr. Neal on NBA at Math Fest 2013 and at the 2014 Joint Meetings of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. After winning a selective award at Math Fest, he survived the harsh interrogation of THREE statistics professors as judges at the joint meetings. Danny Persia emerged unscathed, winning another award for his poster presentation. Out of 312 undergraduate student posters at the biggest math conference of the year, only 50 students emerged as winners.