Basketball

Latest data and analytics technology being used in the NBA

It goes without saying at this point that technology is slowly taking over the world, whether that’s in a serious sense that we’re pretty much reliant on the internet these days, everything runs through the internet. Or whether it’s the fact that we have some kind of technology for even the most basic things imaginable. Then it also goes without saying that technology is also used heavily in sports to track player performance and stats or to find the best and most efficient ways of training. Today we’re going to be taking a look at the technology that some of the biggest teams in the NBA use to keep track of player and team data and analytics, it’s about to get nerdy up in here. *Pushes up glasses*

So as sports have gained bigger audiences, as they’ve grown in value and acquired bigger name sponsorships and more investors, teams and franchises have started to take sports more seriously as a whole. Whether that means the higher ups have taken roster planning way more seriously or whether it means they’ve just been taking a more business based approach to building their franchise it’s super interesting to look at. When it comes to roster building and getting the most out of their current players however, franchises and the coaching teams they hire have been changing the way they approach the game in recent years, but how are they doing it?

Statisticians and analysts have helped players get the most out of their game since as far back as 2008, with the rest of the league picking it up in recent years.

Okay so get this, if you look back to 2008, only 5 teams in the NBA had analytics departments, now, just 13 years later, all 30 teams in the NBA have one and those departments are manned by multiple members of staff. Not only that but the NBAs official league headquarters also has a “Basketball Strategy & Analytics group”. The organisation has come up with many tech-focused initiatives over the years, like the “NBA Analytics Hackathon” which was first held back in 2016, where you have everybody gathered together, statisticians, developers and others to help build the tools which will help solve the most important and challenging basketball related issues to date, things like helping improve players health and fitness, lower the chance of injury, etc.

It may seem a little strange to some of you as there are way more important issues to consider, but in 2018, the hackathon winner was Adam Silver who focused on finding ways to optimise ticket pricing while the runner up in second place had pushed their efforts into trying to figure out the main causes of player decline, pretty interesting right?

Another reason people will analyse data is to see if they can use their knowledge and love of analytics to help them make a quick buck, keeping their eyes on the NBA futures odds to find which teams are performing above what they would consider their “mark”, making it a somewhat safe place to invest some money. Personally I don’t look at any data or analytics when I’m gambling because I know crazy things happen in sports on a daily basis. The teams that should win don’t necessarily always do so which ends up leaving you questioning your decisions and wondering whether you should’ve taken a deeper dive into the stats. Having game knowledge is good, but just remember it doesn’t ALWAYS go that way.

In my opinion, a huge and arguably the biggest use for statisticians and analysts is for the safety of the athletes involved. A big example is in Formula 1 with the folks who came up with the “Halo” idea. While this idea was met with uproar, people saying it wouldn’t make a difference, but since it was introduced in 2018 the halo has saved multiple lives at this point, helping to protect the drivers from cars, stray tires and flying debris. These same statisticians and analysts have worked hard in every sport across the globe to help protect the talent, allowing them to push themselves to the very limits of their bodies for our entertainment and you know what? I feel a lot of it goes under appreciated.

That’ll do it for us today, are you big into your stats? Do you like to look into that side of sport, any sport not just basketball, or do you just like to watch entertaining play? I like interesting facts but I don’t find myself monitoring stats very often. I just enjoy the game you know? I think it’s the best way to do it. That way I’m not getting confused when results don’t go the way the stats say they should! Anyway, I’m still pretty certain that statisticians and analysts have improved the sports we know and love, making them way more efficient, making things much faster paced but also safer. If you’re one of those folks, on behalf of sports fans everywhere, I thank you. Keep up the good work.

Pre-season for the 2021-22 season ended on 16th October and the regular season starts on the 20th!