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Battier says it will take time for Sports VU camera info to trickle down to players

Oct 3, 2013, 11:27 AM EST

Shane Battier AP

We’ve talked about this a few times recently — new high-tech Sports VU cameras are going into all 29 NBA arenas this year. These cameras track every movement on the court by every player and send them to a computer for processing that opens up a world of potential data. You can measure and compare just about anything. Who is faster in the open court with the ball, John Wall or Russell Westbrook? How well does Stephen Curry shoot with a defender three feet away from him? Two feet? Off two bounces rather than catch and shoot?

It’s a wealth of information and the biggest question is how teams will digest it and turn it into game plan actions they can use.

Shane Battier, a guy known for using advanced stats more than most (remember the Michael Lewis piece when Battier was in Houston about how he covered Kobe Bryant?) told Cooper Moorhead of Heat.com it will take a while for this information to trickle down to the players.

“It’ll be fascinating. I still think it’ll be a while before you understand what makes Tony Parker different from John Wall in the open court. You’ll have the data, or closeout speed or thing that you measure . . . it’s really infinite, the things that you can measure. It will take a while to trickle down to how players learn the game. Guys have a pretty good understanding of what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot now, but no one is teaching that in youth basketball. They’re still teaching the same old. It’s going to be a while until that trickles down to the grass roots level and a coach understands this is what you need to do to make it to the next level.”

Do you think at this point it’ll be important for players to educate themselves on the new stuff? To understand how the league perceives them.

“It’s an edge and players always look for an edge. Be it they work a little harder in the weight room to get a little stronger, whether they take 100 extra jumpers a day to get an edge on their jump shot… It’s just another edge, another way to get ahead of the competition. But obviously you can make more money the more edges you have.

“It’ll take time for someone to take the data and make it digestible for players to understand, ‘OK, this is what I really need to work on.’ The game is not changing. It doesn’t change the way it’s understood, described and analyzed. The game is still going to be the same, it’s just going to be a different nuance.”

How teams use this data is going to be key and the 14 teams that already had it in their building had a leg up. For example, the Toronto Raptors already have a program in place that tracks where they want their defenders to be (as ghosts on the image) vs. where they were during a specific sequence.

The question then is how to use it as a teaching tool?

Most players (like most people) are visual learners — don’t tell me to force Kobe left into pull up jumpers, show them video of guys that did it and were successful that way. Those images have a bigger impact.

It’s going to be fun to watch this unfold over the next five years, and beyond.

By the way, go read the entire article where Battier talks about his golf game and shooting slump in the Finals.

  1. skinsfanwill - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Statistics don’t count heart and effort. Some people just need more heart and effort on the court to be successful. Sometimes it’s about confidence in your shot and not where you are taking it. When you are hot you will hit really bad shots. It’s a tool, but you also have to rely on reality. There are nuances to the game that can’t get measured. Honey Nut Cheerios threw Melo off balance. How do you measure that?

    • antistratfordian - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      Well this camera tracking system can actually track certain types of effort and “heart.” It’s motion tracking, so we’re not talking about “statistics” in the traditional sense.

      We’ll be able to see who hustles the most on defense (or who covers the most ground on defense) or who is more often in the best defensive position in relation to the ball and everyone else on the court. The quickness and commitment at which you close out is probably going to be taken as an indicator of heart and definitely hustle. Players who don’t get back in transition – there will be a fun list of those slackers/cherry pickers eventually. Players who are most often sedentary. Things of that nature.

      The refs are even being watched.

  2. yousuxxors - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    that is one ignorant statement. its using data to show where players like to shoot and allows you to place defenders in better positions. yea there are plenty of people that just need more effort but to just blow this off is dumb.

  3. spursareold - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Some teams have had this system, at their own expense, for years already. I guarantee you that every Spurs player knows what they do well and need to do often, and what they suck at and need to work on.

  4. antistratfordian - Oct 3, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Players are stubborn. See Rudy Gay’s recent comments about efficiency. Some of them don’t want to see the data and when they do see it they discount it the same way some fans do: “you’re just staring at a computer screen. watch the game!”

    Well in Gay’s case (and for most players charged with being “inefficient”) you can do both and will come to the same conclusion.

  5. adamsjohn714 - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    With a ton of data, it’s always important to figure out what is helpful and what is meaningless. I’m pretty sure the teams that already know how to do this will continue to do this and the bad teams who just add “scorers” will struggle.

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