NBA teams hope use of an­a­lyt­ics will be a slam dunk

Boston Herald - - BIZ SM@RT -

Data is pored over by coaches and staff of the Or­lando Magic on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. They’ll dis­sect how far a player runs dur­ing prac­tice, how quickly that player ac­cel­er­ates and de­cel­er­ates, how his per­for­mance changes as the work­out goes along, bio­met­ric mea­sure­ments like his heart­beat or when his work­load is par­tic­u­larly heavy.

The charts and graphs are de­tailed and pre­cise.

But how it’ll help the Magic win, that’s still an un­known.

Wear­able tech­nol­ogy — chips worn dur­ing prac­tice to col­lect in­for­ma­tion that an­a­lysts churn into re­ports — has been around the NBA for the past sev­eral sea­sons. It’s not per­mit­ted on game nights, and any­thing spe­cific about pro­cesses the 30 teams are us­ing falls into the cat­e­gory of closely guarded se­crets. And when it comes to coaches de­cid­ing what play to call in the fi­nal sec­onds with a game on the line, it doesn’t seem to have an im­pact quite yet.

“It’s all very ben­e­fi­cial stuff,” Magic coach Steve Clif­ford said. “But I can only di­gest X amount of in­for­ma­tion. And it has to be the right amount of in­for­ma­tion.”

That’s one of the chal­lenges that NBA teams are fac­ing in this in­for­ma­tion age.

Every­one knows an­a­lyt­ics can help in count­less ways. But the ques­tion re­mains sim­ple: How?

“You’ve got to take it and use it as best you can,” said New Or­leans coach Alvin Gen­try, who said he re­sisted us­ing some data that he was pre­sented sev­eral years ago when he coached in Phoenix — and wound up tak­ing that Suns team to the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals. “But at the end of the day, I think the in­stincts that you have as a coach be­come just as im­por­tant, re­ally.”

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