Imagine this: Davidson didn’t record Stephen Curry’s turnovers in 2006-07, and the college didn’t differentiate between the future Warriors point guard’s offensive or defensive rebounds or count his personal fouls through 2008-09. Five years later, that sounds absurd. Everything is charted these days. Every box score number is mandated, advanced statistics are commonplace, and optical analytics are all the rage in the NBA. The evidence of the rising importance of analytics stood out this week, when 11 NBA teams sent 27 representatives to the Sports Analytics Innovation Summit in San Francisco. Of the 27 reps, 12 were at the director level or higher, and Lakers assistant coach Mark Madsen was a mainstay taking notes in the second row. “The media calls it 'revolutionary, transforming and game-changing,’ but it’s really just quantifying things that coaches have known for years,” Milwaukee Bucks director of basketball analytics Michael Clutterbuck said. “Coaches are coaches for a reason. They know that the Spurs often pass up good shots for great ones.” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has said the three-point line is close to cheating, knowing that shooting 50 percent from two-point range is the equivalent of shooting 33 percent from three-point range. Since the Spurs have won four and been in five of the past 12 NBA Finals, all other teams are playing catch-up. Analytics won’t completely change the outcome of a game, but the data might affect five or six possessions — or maybe even: “Wonder if it tells us that their guy drives right 80 percent of the time at the key moment of the game, and we stop him in that situation to win the game,” Clutterbuck said. Optical analytics have been around the league for a while, but the NBA’s decision to install sophisticated camera systems in all 30 teams’ arenas last year changed the game. It was no longer about who spent the most money on analytics, but who best interpreted the video and numbers and was the most fluent and getting that information to the coaches and players.
Basketball moves miles beyond the old box scores
San Francisco Chronicle | Sep 12