Photo / Cody Sharrett

Sachin Gupta's Influence Extends Far Beyond Analytics

by Shahbaz Khan

When the Minnesota Timberwolves concluded their search for a new President of Basketball Operations in May 2019, Gersson Rosas vowed to bring change to the franchise in his introductory press conference.

“There’s going to be a tangible change, and this market is going to feel it,” said Rosas. “We want to consistently be a winning team that gets in the playoffs and has the foundation to compete for a championship and to do something here that hasn’t been done, and that’s done collaboratively with great people and great partners.”

By July 2019, the aforementioned change was in full effect, with Rosas hiring several key individuals within the team’s Basketball Operations department. From assistant coaches David Vanterpool and Pablo Prigioni to front office teammates Gianluca Pascucci (Assistant General Manager and Iowa Wolves GM) and Sachin Gupta (Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations), the makings of Rosas’ envisioned collaborative group were in place.

An integral piece in Minnesota’s vast-ranging front office, Gupta serves as the team’s analytics lead and is widely regarded as a Collective Bargaining Agreement expert and analytics pioneer.

“Sachin makes the team better because we know that we have in front of us, a guy who was really a great friend, but also we know he's the smartest guy in the room who can help us and steer us in the right direction,” says General Manager Scott Layden.

An MIT graduate, the Wolves EVP began his career at ESPN where he helped foster basketball’s analytics movement while developing the frequently used ESPN Trade Machine. He then spent six seasons with the Houston Rockets laying the foundation for the team’s analytics department, before joining the Philadelphia 76ers as a consultant which led to being named Philadelphia’s Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2014. Following a successful tenure with the 76ers, Gupta returned to the Houston Rockets as a Special Advisor then joined the Detroit Pistons as Assistant General Manager, before joining the Timberwolves in July of 2019.

Experiences across the NBA landscape have led Gupta to the role in Minnesota, but the organizational culture is what sets it apart, according to the Wolves exec.

“I've been a part of four different teams in front offices in my time in the league, and I've loved every single one, but this one is different,” Gupta says. “The level of alignment that we have here within our front office, to our coaching staff, to our business operations is unlike anything I've seen. And I think that's really going to lead us to success in the long term.”

Following a season featuring a roster overhaul, and two weeks from a pivotal NBA Draft filled with endless possibilities for the Timberwolves, the team’s analytics lead has been as busy as ever.

“My role in the draft process is to help Gersson and our team evaluate all the prospects,” said Gupta. “…I work closely with our analytics group, and we work closely together with scouting to help Gersson make the best decision that we can on draft night.”

Though the looming NBA Draft and free agency period is rapidly approaching, Gupta and company are prepared for every opportunity that may present itself throughout the league. After all, Gupta is no stranger to extreme roster changes – playing a key role in Philadelphia’s transformative years under Sam Hinkie.

“Sachin gives us a different perspective, a high level of intelligence that allows us to be very creative in our approaches,” Rosas shares. “A lot of it is looking at all the different perspectives that you typically don't see, whether it's ideas, perspectives, experiences, or abilities to do anything…whether it's acquire a player, develop a player, build a philosophy, he [Gupta] gives us a different perspective.”

The Timberwolves will look to intertwine those perspectives and build upon an exciting core in Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell on November 18.

“We're working the phones and being diligent, and turning over every rock to find the best answer for us on draft night,” says Gupta.


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