Team building

Quantifying team chemistry to build better teams


Sports teams rely on each other, and one of the most important—and elusive—traits of championship teams is their chemistry.


To build cohesive teams that are somehow greater than the sum of their parts, general managers and scouts seek to assess players not just on athleticism but also character and find the perfect combination among players. Recognising this fact, a major professional sports league wished to quantify offensive and defensive chemistry for pairs of teammates.

Insight and Action

To examine the chemistry of certain types of players and styles, QuantumBlack extended adjusted +/− (APM) models, a standard sport player rating, with interaction terms and clustering analysis. We established in-game planning capabilities to identify sub-optimal line-ups, optimise rotations, and identify differences between teams. More strategically, these traits are useful for building teams, developing players, and identifying transfer targets who might go well with a given team selection. We discovered that high player chemistry, more than 0.03 points per possession (PPP), makes up for the difference between average and top performing players.


  • 0.033PPPbest offensive pairing discovered

Our analysis discovered that the best offensive pairing in the professional sports league were Player 1 and Player 2, who combined 0.033 PPP for Team A during the 2010–11 season. Not coincidentally, Team A were crowned champions that year. On the defensive side, Player 3 and Player 4 from Team B produced a 0.04 PPP in 2005–06 to set the league standard.