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Travis Schlenk, Golden State’s director of player personnel and resident stats geek, has already been up here three times this season, so you’d think this would be no big deal for him, but his sweaty palms are grasping the railing the same as mine. He’s right, though. About six feet down, affixed to one of the giant concrete beams supporting the Oracle Arena ceiling, is a nondescript yet professional-looking videocam staring down at the eastern half of the court.There are five more of these cameras strategically placed within Oracle Arena, and while a sellout crowd of 19,596 watched the hometown team destroy the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers by 24 points that evening, these eyes in the sky were streaming high-quality video to servers in the Midwest.
The system is called SportVU, named for the Israeli startup that developed the tech. Stats, the Chicago-based data-crunching outfit in charge of this whole operation, is hoping a six-team pilot program conducted this season will usher in a new era of advanced basketball analytics.