NBA Statistics And How Technology Is Taking Over

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    Updated: March 5, 2014
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    With the Sloan Sports Conference taking place in Boston over the weekend, there’s been a lot of talk about the future of statistics.  Things have come a long way since Bill James was a security guard at a pork and beans cannery. 

    But there’s still room to grow.  Without getting too specific, there remain aspects of mainstream sports we simply can’t quantify yet.

    There’s also a gap that coaches and players point to in analytics.

    The “eye test” is the only way to truly understand what happens in a game, Stan Van Gundy is fond of yelling to the MIT know-it-alls that make up the SSC.

    But out of all the websites that claim to have cutting-edge statistics, Synergy Sports seems to be one of the only ones to have solved the “eye test” dilemma, and in the process starts a movement towards video.

    To say that video is the future of advanced statistics would be misleading; it’s more of a growing component of the whole picture.

    Sure, Dwayne Wade is crazy efficient in the post, but what kind of moves does he use down there?  So Chris Paul scores a lot, but how does he use those Blake Griffin picks?

    Courtesy of

    Before video clips became available, these were the things coaches, scouts and management could say to the casual fan of advanced statistics.  But Synergy puts video to stats, and just made video clips freely available to everyone.

    Last night I was watching NBA TV and a promotional message ran across the bottom of the screen.  “Watch every basket of LeBron James’ historic 61-point night on!” 

    Without having ever watched James play before, I could watch that and immediately understand that James is unstoppable when he gets to the rim (I might also assume he hits 80 percent of his threes, but you get the point).

    Courtesy of

    I don’t blame the people who make up the professional sports establishment for being hostile towards advanced metrics. 

    These guys have devoted their lives to being around the game they love and worked their way up the ladder to the top of their profession. 

    Now a kid who’s been buried in math books his whole life is supposed to know something they don’t?

    It’s human nature to reject that line of reasoning.  But teams have slowly recognized that advanced metrics give them an edge, while still holding to the notion that they’re only a small piece of the bigger picture.

    The point of statistics is to get a better feel for the games we love, and numbers alone have a long way to go before they’re all we need. 

    Until then, I’m going to be stuck in the wormhole of NBA videos that give us precious information a box score never could­­— probably to the detriment of my social life.

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