How is the National Basketball Association using Big Data?

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  • Author: Statistics Views
  • Date: 24 October 2013
  • Copyright: Image appears courtesy of iStock Photo

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced innovative new plans to collect huge amounts of data on its 30 teams' games this year. According to an article from Outsell Insights, how this data will be accessed could provide important lessons to be learnt for all companies, especially those in the intersection of media, technology, and information.

thumbnail image: How is the National Basketball Association using Big Data?

From this year onwards, the NBA, using STATS LLC SportsVU optical tracking cameras, will record every movement in every game, using analytical tools to extract meaning from the data and most interestingly, this data will also be used to assess player performance and the performance of the team as a whole to assist managers and coaches in their future endeavours for improvement. Each arena will have a total six cameras recording all movements, whether it is the players, referees, or the ball itself, e.g. height of jumps, arc of the ball, possession of the ball, space between net and player during attempted shots, etc.

According to analyst Jim Hydock, such new data and its subsequent analysis will undoubtedly lead to ‘a whole new set of advanced statistics by which to measure player performance, endurance, coaching models, and player effectiveness. No doubt the data will also be useful in settling arguments down at the corner sports bar. While the data is valuable, what we find most fascinating is the analysis of the data, who owns it, and the opportunities and issues that arise from the collection of it. In all fairness, the NBA has admitted that is hasn't thought through all of the implications of sharing the statistics, and likely there will be some restrictions put in place.’ (Hydock, Big Players, Bigger Data, Outsell Inc, 21st October 2013).

Hydock further indicates the advantages and disadvantages of Big Data but concludes that the data that emerges will help to provide invaluable insight into how data can also introduce new business models, products and services. ‘Whether it is extracting meaning from customer data, measuring the ways digital content is consumed to create new content experiences, or systematically mining text to find relevant content, successful information providers will have a clear data management strategy, and use that strategy to benefit their employees, customers, and partners. And that leads to competitive advantage in any game.’ (Hydock, Big Players, Bigger Data, Outsell Inc, 21st October 2013).

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