Rockets’ Winston Lin Teaches Analytics Class to Rice Students

Rockets’ Winston Lin Teaches Analytics Class to Rice Students

During the Fall 2019 semester, the Houston Rockets’ Director of Strategy and Analytics, Winston Lin, taught a course called “Professional Sports: Business Analytics” for the Department of Sport Management which focused on practical applications of analytical concepts, specifically in the business world.

Lin is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he majored in engineering. He also has Master’s degree from UC Berkeley in Information and Data Science. Lin began his career with a mobile app startup he founded in Boston before accepting a role with the Rockets in 2010, where he has been ever since.

“Winston’s impact was gigantic!” said Associate Professor Jimmy Disch, who was the instructor of record for the class. “The students were allowed to conduct research on actual data from the Houston Rockets. The labs they were required to complete for the course requirements had findings that the Rockets could use to make future business decisions.”

The class was put together in a fairly simple way. Generally, one or two lectures on a topic of business strategy in sports followed by a guest lecturer from the Rockets employee whose job was in that field. Then the topic was summed up with a lab activity using real Rockets data and statistical programs such as Tableau.

“The structure of the class was so unique in that we learned about business analytics from a first-hand professional sports source,” said Jason Gardner ’21, one of the several Sport Management (Analytics) majors in the class. “What really made it special, however, is that our homework assignments were basically consulting projects with real Rockets data and advanced data programs like Tableau. It was like a 3-in-1!”

Lin’s status as a current employee of a major professional sports team was a big selling point for students taking the class.

“It was a great opportunity to learn from an expert in business analytics who, on a daily basis, uses the current trends and skills in the industry,” says Adam Gurin ’21, another of the Sport Management (Analytics) majors in the class. “Winston was very insightful and provided the class with lots of information and tips to help us understand not only what he does for the Rockets, but he also brought in guest speakers to provide information about the other areas of sports business.”

Elijah Lipkin, a junior from Parsippany, New Jersey, is double-majoring in Sport Management (Analytics) and Statistics with minors in Business and Data Science.