When it comes to data analytics, you can safely say the NBA just pulled off a slam dunk.
By collecting data from every NBA game in the 2013–2014 season, the league has set itself apart as an innovator in the emerging field of sports analytics, becoming the first professional sports league to track and quantify every game, according to an official release.
Expanding the relationship it has long had with STATS LLC, the NBA plans to use the company’s SportVU system, which comes equipped with six cameras and proprietary software, to gather activity from all 30 NBA teams.
Fans, coaches and casual observers will be able to tap into this data to track metrics like “speed, distance, player separation, and ball possession for detailed and targeted analysis of players and teams,” which will be accessible through NBA.com, the NBA Game Time App and NBA TV.
“We are a league driven by data, and our expanded partnership with STATS provides our teams and fans with access to uncover groundbreaking statistics,” said Steve Hellmuth, NBA executive vice president of operations and technology, in the official press release announcing the deal. “In this new era of statistical information, SportVU will be an invaluable resource for basketball executives and our passionate fans.”
In an article last week, Zach Lowe from Grantland spotlighted several ways the NBA’s new technology investment can be used, including tracking referee activity, closely monitoring player fitness and leveraging game performance in contract negotiations.
Several teams in the league have already been experimenting with sports analytics of some flavor, but it’ll be interesting to see how teams who’ve eschewed a data approach to the game fare once the new technology is deployed leaguewide.