Update: The Grizzlies announced on Thursday that ESPN Stats Guru John Hollinger would be leaving the sports net to become VP of Basketball Operations for the Blue Bears. My mind immediately went back to this post which originally appeared in July, which talks about how New SportVU technology can track and analyze literally every move that happens on a basketball court. So I started doing the math:
New Owner Robert Pera, hi-tech billionaire who made his fortune with wireless technology innovations
+ SportVU Technology (link takes you to SportVU.com, with some examples of the data collected)
+ Super Stat Geek and inventor of the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) John Hollinger
= The Memphis Grizzlies becoming the NBA’s first CYBORG franchise?
The Bears Eye’s already glow a bright yellow . . . . – LES
I’m a huge fan of John Hollinger style stats — PER, rebounds per 48, etc. And yet I knew that with the way technology runs now, it would be amazing if it were possible to track all kinds of minutiae in a game — Not just your typical Shane Battier stats of where Kobe is least effective, but down to how quickly Kobe can pull up, who dives on the floor for a loose ball, who boxes out on rebounds . . . stuff like that. I think that if I could’ve figured out how to track that type of stuff, I’d be RICH!
But it looks like I’m gonna have to work on another idea. I found this fascinating/scary/freaky article on the new technology in 10 NBA Arenas that does exactly that (I wonder if FedEx Forum is one of them). I’m not exaggerating. From Fast Company’s Article “Moneyball 2.0: How Missle Tracking Cameras are Remaking the NBA:”
The technology was originally developed to track missiles. Now, SportVU systems hang from the catwalks of 10 NBA arenas, tiny webcams that silently track each player as they shoot, pass, and run across the court, recording each and every move 25 times a second. SportVU can tell you not just Kevin Durant’s shooting average, but his shooting average after dribbling one vs. two times, or his shooting average with a defender three feet away vs. five feet away. SportVU can actually consider both factors at once, plus take into account who passed him the ball, how many minutes he’d been on the court, and how many miles he’d run that game already.
Wait till you see the charts on Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook.
And now for exactly one paragraph of soapboxing that has nothing to do with sports: WOW. The more technology evolves, the more I realize that George Orwell’s vision of a Big Brother watching our every move was probably inevitable. What I didn’t see coming was that they (ah, those ever-nebulous conspirators “they”) would actually get us to WANT the technology that’s tracking us! We not only spend hundreds of dollars so we can carry our tracking devices in our pockets, we upload our whereabouts, along with pictures of who we’re with. SkyCop is watching over Memphis city streets. And don’t get me started on the upcoming fleet of small flying robots that can work together, or the robot “dog” that can walk up the sides of mountains. To be clear, I really think all this is pretty darn cool. But you gotta admit . . . it is also a little freaky. Especially when you realize this stuff is gonna be commonplace/obsolete inside of 10 years. After all, it doesn’t feel like the iPhone is only five years old, now does it?
Whew. And I’m back. See what happens when there’s no basketball? When does summer league start? How long until the Olympics?
Anyway, the missile-tracking-camera-on-NBA-players thing is kinda cool. And kinda freaky. And I think when Shane Battier hears about it, his head will explode. A camera will be watching that too, calculating trajectories and velocity. Kinda cool. Kinda freaky.