User Spotlight: Sportswriter Sabreena Merchant

It’s well-known that coaches much utilize advanced analytics to stay competitive at the college and professional level today. But considering and understanding advanced stats such as net rating and player combination analysis is becoming increasingly popular beyond the coaching community. From sports journalists to avid fans, Pivot Analysis has found that niche community that benefits from diving into advanced team and player stats for a wide range of reasons.


We recently caught up with one of our first (non-coaching staff) users to see how she harnessed the power of analytics to create better content for her readers. Sabreena Merchant is a sportswriter based in Los Angeles, CA. She covers the LA Clippers for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Sparks for The Athletic, and the Los Angeles Lakers for Silver Screen & Roll. Her work covering the NBA and the WNBA can also be found at Dime Magazine and High Post Hoops.


Who do you write for and which leagues do you cover?

I cover both the NBA and WNBA. More specifically, I cover the Los Angeles Sparks for The Athletic, the Los Angeles Lakers for SB Nation, and the LA Clippers for Sports Illustrated.

Pivot Analysis provides up-to-date data feeds for the NBA, WNBA, and all NCAA teams. Which leagues did you access in Pivot Analysis?

I used Pivot for my work covering the 2019 WNBA season.

There are a lot of people who like to read, and write, about all leagues in basketball. To remain a competitive sportswriter, what are you looking for to produce a winning article for your readers that will lead them to rely on you for their information?

Readers like to be entertained with anecdotes and previously-unknown details about the players I cover, but that has to be complemented with an informed analysis of how they impact their team. I try to provide a combination of storytelling, statistical analysis, and video in my pieces to balance what makes the players special both on and off the court.

How did Pivot Analysis help you do a better job of producing pieces that are entertaining and informative?

Pivot Analysis has some of the best WNBA data available in terms of its thoroughness and ease of access. Any type of advanced statistic I want to find is readily available [in the app], making my work significantly easier.

Pivot Analysis provides many out-of-the-box reports with the capabilities to filter down to player, player combinations, game or period. Which reports did you find the most helpful or insightful for your analysis?

I particularly enjoy the lineup and combination explorers because they enable me to see what groupings of players function well together. It's impossible to think about athletes in isolation in basketball, and the tools on Pivot Analysis do the best job of addressing that fact. Additionally, any time I have a question or a suggestion, [the Pivot Analysis team] responds so quickly and is so helpful. This is the only app I use where the support is this valuable.


You can read Sabreena’s Pivot-supported articles here:

What’s gone wrong for the Sparks and what needs to change against the Sun

How can the Sparks upset the Sun? Here's a blueprint

Matchups weigh in Sparks' favor, but there's why you can't count out Seattle


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