How Much Trouble is Early Foul Trouble

New SSRN paper by some finance sorts:

How Much Trouble is Early Foul Trouble?


We use a large dataset of play-by-play NBA data to determine when yanking foul-plagued starters is optimal by applying insights and tools from finance. We find that a team performs significantly worse if a starter with foul trouble is allowed to remain in the game, and that this effect is strongest in the third quarter. We use a novel win-probability technique that is sufficiently general to be useful for other questions simply by appropriately redefining the state variables. Thus, our two contributions are to introduce the new approach and also to demonstrate its usefulness by solving the problem of early foul trouble that had remained unaddressed in the academic literature.