NBA teams hope use of analytics will be a slam dunk
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.”