Baseball’s statistical revolution gets way more publicity than what goes on in other sports.The truth, however, is that big data analysis is happening across all sports and the latest wave hitting the NBA will have drastic implications.
Dubbed basketball’s Moneyball, the system is called SportVU and the kind of precise data it can track is quite amazing.
SportVU can tell you not just Kevin Durant’s shooting average, but his shooting average after dribbling one vs. two times, or his shooting average with a defender three feet away vs. five feet away. SportVU can actually consider both factors at once, plus take into account who passed him the ball, how many minutes he’d been on the court, and how many miles he’d run that game already.
Cameras capture X/Y coordinates for every player and referee as well as the 3-D coordinates (X/Y/Z) of the ball, complex algorithms take other variables like lines on the court into account, and then a server puts everything together to churn out a readable statistical report.
Although the system is only available in 10 NBA arenas, every team in the league has equal access to this information.
The challenge is now getting these tiny web cams into the other arenas across the country. But as Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk explains, that shouldn’t be very difficult considering that Erik Spoelstra, a stats-oriented coach, is on the cusp of an NBA championship.
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