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.

This entry was posted in musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
Login to leave a comment.
Total comments: 14
  • Sir Thursday says 10 months ago

    I saw this on twitter earlier and it seemed like a really interesting use of the technology (or at least it will be once there's a slightly larger dataset):https://twitter.com/EdKupfer/status/396740215940734976/photo/1

  • vonsteve says 10 months ago

    The all flop team
    CP3
    Manu
    Battier
    Griffin
    Bosh

    Luis Scola is insulted to not make your list.

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    The all flop team
    CP3
    Manu
    Battier
    Griffin
    Bosh

    Sixth man Derrick Fisher

  • timetodienow1234567 says 10 months ago The all flop team
    CP3
    Manu
    Battier
    Griffin
    Bosh
  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    I wonder if this technology can determine who the best floppers are haha. I think Chris Paul is one of the greatest players ever who hasn't won a ring, but I am willing to bet that he leads the league in flops called lol

  • ale11 says 10 months ago

    I don't think there's an issue with publishing the data, because every team gets the exact same data, it's a matter of how's interpretated. The only thing I know it's "confidential" is the results of tracking referees (data exclusive for NBA's purposes).

  • NorEastern says 10 months ago

    I was afraid that every statistic available to fans

    I believed that every statistic made available to fans would be made irrelevant by SportVu. Thank god the NBA is exposing some of the stats to fans. I thought the contractual agreement with NBA teams made SportsVu data propitiatory to the teams. But obviously the NBA has some rights to the data and has chosen to publish it.

    But on to miscellaneous thoughts.

    Lin is a creator of shots. By my unpublished calculations there are 44 NBA players who can reliably create their own shots. Players who can create their own shots have the ability to make their own teammates better. It is somewhat similar to Howard's ability to command the double team, but assists are created with much higher efficiency by Harden and Lin. Lin is not as efficient as Harden certainly, but he is reliable. So IMHO this puts Lin as the forth most valuable Rocket after Harden, Howard, Asik and perhaps Parsons.

    A second topic: "For instance, 21 of Dwight Howard’s 26 rebounds the other night were uncontested compared to only 5/14 for Omer Asik". There is a very simple explanation of this statistic. Howard garnered 21 defensive rebounds and five offensive rebounds was contested on 5 of them. Asik gathered 5 offensive rebounds and 9 defensive rebounds and he was contested on 5 of them. There is a strong case that CHA was abandoning Offensive rebounding efforts to focus on transition defense.

    More later.

  • Fury says 10 months ago

    I do hope that they include the option to sort by position. Perhaps they could include the 5 typical positions, but also include Guards/Wings and Post players to allow broader comparisons

  • Fury says 10 months ago

    By far the most interesting piece of information that I have stumbled upon from SportVU:

    Out of all players scoring
    Can Tony Allen shoot now? Probably not, but the Grizzlies just got a lot scarier if he can.

  • rockets best fan says 10 months ago

    The immediate consequence though is more cherry-picked numbers to justify people's pre-existing narratives

    totally agree. if you thought there were some good stat geek fights before.......just wait.........you haven'tseen nothing yet :lol:

  • Rahat Huq says 10 months ago

    Not all 30 teams are using the VU cameras

    That was last year. It's now in every arena. Per the NBA's website: "Using six camerasinstalled in the catwalksof every NBA arena"

  • BenQueens says 10 months ago

    Not all 30 teams are using the VU cameras so we don't know for sure if he's currently 3rd in the league at that stat, but it's definitely interesting. It does seem like something good happens everytime Lin or Harden drives--more reason we want to keep the floor spaced out as much as possible.

    Do you know which arenas don't have it? The "Player Tracking" page at nba.com says "Using six camerasinstalled in the catwalksof every NBA arena, SportVU software tracks the movements of every player on the court and the basketball 25 times per second.", but I can understand if that's a state expected "soon" rather than a season-opening fact.

  • David says 10 months ago

    The immediate consequence though is more cherry-picked numbers to justify people's pre-existing narratives

  • 2016Champions says 10 months ago

    Also noteworthy was the fact that Jeremy Lin after one game is third in the league on points per 48 minutes off of drives.

    Not all 30 teams are using the VU cameras so we don't know for sure if he's currently 3rd in the league at that stat, but it's definitely interesting. It does seem like something good happens everytime Lin or Harden drives--more reason we want to keep the floor spaced out as much as possible.