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Food for Thought: SportVU first returns

As you know, the NBA is now tracking player movements using cameras installed in every arena.  A breathtaking amount of the data is being made accessible via NBA.com.

NOTE: Small sample size alert.  If you’re reading this, you are smart enough to know it will take at least a few weeks before anything meaningful can be gleaned.  But the results thus far are interesting nonetheless.

For instance, 21 of Dwight Howard’s 26 rebounds the other night were uncontested compared to only 5/14 for Omer Asik.  Even more interestingly, the Bobcats shot 18% at the rim against Asik.  They shot 54% at the rim against Dwight.  This leads to extremely interesting questions.  Do opposing bigs just not even bother to attempt the rebound if Dwight is in the vicinity?  Setting Dwight aside, I suspect that as time passes, Asik will be found to be even more valuable than even I had previously thought.

Also noteworthy was the fact that Jeremy Lin after one game is third in the league on points per 48 minutes off of drives.  Just one game, sure.  But I expect him to remain near the top of the league in this category.

The tool even tracks things such as ‘points per half court touch.’  This unprecedented availability of data will lead to infinitely more questions about the game.  And one thing is for sure – it will make our understanding of basketball infinitely broader and take analysis to greater heights.

This is it.  As I tweeted minutes ago, the ‘water cooler’ has been destroyed.  The casual fan hasn’t even heard of TS%…much less ‘points per halfcourt touches.’  The divide between conventional wisdom and stat geekery is now irreversibly severed.

View this discussion from the forum.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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