A Good Sport in Business Analytics

Nikhil Morar

Nikhil Morar (HCB, ’19), the manager of business analytics and strategy for the Los Angeles Lakers, has the job of his dreams. High-level and fast-paced, his position includes working with the Lakers’ business analytics team in pre-game preparation and post-game data analysis for 82 professional regular season basketball games. The business analytics department collaborates with revenue-generating departments on large data analyses to optimize processes and provide objective recommendations that inform the organization’s important business decisions.

“All of us are putting in so much time and effort to accomplish the health of the business and helping the team win a championship,” Morar says. “What excites me is just waking up and doing a cool job with people that are also passionate about what they do.”

Making the Leap to Business Analysis

Given Morar’s enthusiasm for business analytics, it is interesting to learn he entered the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as a pre-med student, intending to become a dentist. Hearing good things about UT’s Haslam College of Business changed his mind.

“I had a lot of friends that were in Haslam, and they loved their classes, and they talked about all the alumni that they had chats with,” Morar recalls. “So, I made the switch over to Haslam.”

He earned his bachelor’s in business analytics with a supply chain management collateral and a minor in information studies and technology. Although he holds a master of science in applied data science from Indiana University, he credits Haslam for playing a crucial role in laying the groundwork for his proficiency in business analytics, which is fundamental to his current role.

“What helped me was the strong foundation, the data analysis, statistical modeling, and strategic decision-making classes,” he says. “Haslam also has a lot of students, not only from around the US, but around the world, and we had a lot of group projects. Collaborating with students from different states and countries helped me understand working with diverse backgrounds.”

Analyzing the Micro and the Macro

The Lakers originally hired Morar to develop data integrations, quantitative analyses, performance metrics, and dashboard visualizations to drive key strategic business initiatives. Now, his team focuses on data capture and analysis for all revenue generation in the organization. From ticket purchases to broadcast rights to corporate partnerships, Morar’s team diligently collects and analyzes data. At the micro level, if needed, they can share observations from a single fan’s purchasing history. From the macro view, Morar and his team provide valuable insights derived from the comprehensive analysis of all major partnership contracts, guiding strategic decisions in structuring business deals.

“Our analytics team is like an internal consultant that works with almost every department at the Lakers, helping with efficiency generation and business planning,” he says. “Our whole goal is to make sure that we’re driving revenue

through data analysis and helping support the organization with business decision-making.”

The Laker’s director of business analytics and strategy, Christina Khosravi, praised Morar’s contributions to the organization.

“Nikhil’s contributions to the team have accelerated the translation of complex datasets into data visualizations, ultimately driving key business decisions,” Khosravi said. “His curiosity and solution-oriented approach continue to inspire thoughtful discussion across the organization.”

Giving Back: From HCB to the NBA

Morar contributes to both Haslam and his community. He served on the Indian American Association at UT and has volunteered with South Asians in Sports and the Indiana Sports Corp, among other activities. This summer, he joined the Haslam Young Alumni Board and was a teaching assistant in a business analytics and statistics course. He also has been a guest speaker in other Haslam classes and at the fall 2023 Business Analytics Forum.
Julie Ferrara, senior lecturer and assistant department head in business analytics and statistics, is pleased Morar finds time to return to the college, calling him a good role model.

“Nikhil was an exceptional student, and we’re always happy to have him back at Haslam,” Ferrara says. “He’s always interested in learning more and sharing what he has learned. Telling our current students about his work with the Lakers broadens their vision of what they can do with their degrees.”

Morar believes such activities allow him to invest in the college that helped establish his business analytics foundation. Similarly, he participates in volunteer events with the Lakers throughout the year.

“Whether it’s taking part in a beach cleanup or teaching kids about analytics at the office during Camp Lakers, it’s different areas that I can help the younger generation get to where they want to be,” Morar says.


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu

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