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Why Giving the Second Best Guy a Chance Is a Smart Move

Business prof Gary Smith explains…
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Gary Smith, author of The AI Delusion, has some interesting advice for those who think that a star athlete wins only on performance: It doesn’t quite work that way:

A study by two business school professors, Cade Massey and Richard Thaler, found that the chances that a drafted player will turn out to be better than the next player drafted in his position (for example, the first quarterback drafted compared to the second quarterback drafted) is only 52%, barely better than a coin flip.Yet, teams pay much more for early draft picks than for later picks.

Even leaving salary aside, teams that trade down (for example giving up the first pick in the draft for the 14th and 15th pick) usually do better than teams that trade up. Often, the 14th pick turns out to be better than the first pick. Usually, the 14th and 15th picks together bring more to a team than does the first pick. Teams are far more likely to celebrate their picks in this Thursday’s NFL draft if they trade down rather than up.

Gary Smith, “On the NFL draft and the benefits of trading down” at Chicago Tribune (April 27, 2022)

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Why Giving the Second Best Guy a Chance Is a Smart Move