Tag Archives: Rajon Rondo

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

The Celtics endgame

The Celtics are hanging onto the 8 seed for dear life. Last night, they got a big win over the Cavaliers (who are ninth) and managed to tie up the Knicks for the 7 seed. In Boston, most people realize that this group is done. I’m reminded of the Pistons in ’08-09; here’s the IMDB:

Endgame (2012)
PG-13 (66 games and 1 playoff round) – Sports Action

In 2008-2009, the Detroit Pistons are coming off six straight Eastern Conference finals appearances. However, their core players — Chauncey Billups, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace — are aging, Continue reading

One more Kobe

I promise I’ll give Kobe a break soon. After all, he took a break himself last night, in a game where Bynum played great (8-13 shooting, 15 boards), Kobe shot awful early and backed off from trying to score 40 (7-22, 14 points), but the Lakers won with their defense. Before I give it a rest, I wanted to link an interesting alternative approach to the numbers that I’ve been presenting.

Zach Lowe at SI breaks down Kobe’s decision making in a series of videos (granted, they are probably cherry picked). Lowe reminds us Continue reading

An up close Celtics preview

I just got back from the Celtics open practice – this year they played a full two quarters of basketball, “green” vs. “white.” Everyone played except for Garnett and Pierce, and guys got into it (running actual plays, playing defense, working for offensive rebounds, refs called it tight, etc.). The white team featured Rondo and Allen, as well as new face Brandon Bass and ex-star Jermaine O’Neal. The Washington Generals green team was led by Marquis Daniels (the best defender in the league) and journeyman Chris Wilcox. It’s hard to learn too much from a setting like this, but I have a few observations from the evening: Continue reading