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The Changing Role of Race in the NBA: a Draft Ordering Approach
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
posted on 16.11.2009by Brandon Stichka
Does the selection of players in the annual National Basketball Association Draft exhibit
racial discrimination? We construct an original data set spanning the 1950-1999 regular seasons in
order to answer this question. Utilizing an unexplored player valuation system, and a much longer
horizon, we avoid many of the difficulties encountered by earlier researchers who typically focused
on salary in this uncompetitive market. On average, teams select equally-performing black players
slightly later in the draft ordering than their white colleagues. Black players consistently perform
above the level non-parametrically predicted by their draft ranks. This effect is most noticeable
in the 1950s, and 1960s. There is renewed growth in this unequal treatment in the 1990s, and
possible explanations for this resurgence are offered.