Tag Archives: Joakim Noah

Player tracking in basketball: not a silver bullet

For anyone who follows quantitative sports analysis, player tracking cameras are not news. Along with the NBA, soccer teams use them (even in the MLS) and rugby teams use them. They give x-y-z coordinates for each player at a high frame rate, which can be processed into a variety of statistics. Many think that this approach will revolutionize sports analysis. I stumbled across an article at ESPN today spreading this view to the masses.

Tracking data can help with many things, but it won’t save analysts from themselves. Here’s a point-counterpoint from the article linked above.

Point: “Paul Pierce averaged 4.5 assists this season, which is pretty good for a scoring wing. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story. According to SportVU, Pierce’s teammates shot a higher percentage after his passes than any other player in the NBA. This shows Pierce is passing at the right time — he’s giving his teammates mostly layups and open shots.”

Counterpoint: Pierce might be making great passes, but it’s just as likely that Pierce plays with better than average shooters or better than average cutters/floor spacers, or that Pierce commands a strong defender Continue reading

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NBA superstar trades

Jerry West had some interesting comments yesterday on superstars demanding trades in the NBA. Basically, he says wait them out. His two arguments:

  1. Players and agents will “resign” themselves to the situation and “re-sign” since their current team can offer them as much as $30 million more than another team (by NBA rules)
  2. Even if they don’t, the value you get in a trade is crappy

I disagree with point 1 (Exhibit A: LeBron James), but he’s right about point 2. In my South Beach Talents model, Continue reading