The Philadelphia 76ers just got a whole lot smarter.
Earlier today, several sources - including Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Erik Gundersen of The Columbian - reported that renowned analytics guru Ben Falk has left the Portland Trail Blazers to join the Sixers as the team's VP of Basketball Strategy.
Falk, a native of Potomac, Md., spent the last four years as the Trail Blazers' basketball analytics manager, and is widely regarded as one of the best young minds in the NBA. As word of the move spread, the news was received very favorably on Twitter:
Congrats to Ben Falk. Now VP of Basketball Strategy with Philly. Huge step up for a good guy.— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) September 26, 2014
Falk is scary smart, and was in a very analytics-friendly regime in Portland. Very nice get for the Sixers, if true.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 26, 2014
ESPN The Magazine did a deep dive on Falk back in February 2013 (Insider only, but Blazer's Edge pulls out the important nuggets here), and at the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Conference a month later, Portland GM Neil Olshey said the following when interviewed by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com:
"When I got hired in Portland, I realized Ben Falk was the smartest guy in the room and it was probably a good idea if I listened to him once in awhile."
While studying at the University of Maryland, Falk served as an intern with the Denver Nuggets and worked also part time for the Trail Blazers before accepting a full-time position with the Portland front office in 2010. And, for those interested, here's a link to a presentation given by Falk at the Financial Executives International meeting in September 2013.
Falk is essentially serving as the replacement for former player personnel director Courtney Witte, who recently left the Sixers after 14 years to join the Los Angeles Clippers' scouting department. Regardless of whether the Witte departure was the result of a front-office power play, the addition of Falk is a clear signal that the Sixers remain steadfast in their commitment to advanced analytics.