The NBA is about to get a whole lot fancier.
Grantland's Zach Lowe reports that the Association will be installing new data-tracking cameras in every arena prior to the start of next season.
Exactly half of all teams used the Stats LLC SportVU cameras last year after six organizations had them installed for the lockout-condensed 2011-12 campaign.
According to Lowe, these high-tech gadgets monitor just about everything that happens on the court:
The cameras record every movement on the court — of players, officials, and the ball — several times per second, so that subscribing teams have been able to track the positioning of players in new ways. In a Grantland exclusive in March, the Toronto Raptors showed how they have used the data to (among many other things) build computerized "ghost defenders" that reacted in optimal ways to every offensive action. The team could then overlay camera recordings of actual game play to see how closely Toronto's real players mirrored the actions of their ghosts.
The installation of such equipment is further evidence that teams are embracing the use of advanced analytics. With the information these machines will feed subscribers, Lowe says teams can track everything from where missed shots fall after hitting the rim to how far players run during games.
Basketball has never seemed so methodical.
Teams can now make decisions using intel they never had before. Forget minutes restrictions, this new wave of knowledge apparently allows coaches to put players on a distance restriction.
And how about the rebounding aspect of this? Never mind boxing out—provided with a large enough sample size, players should know exactly where to position themselves based on what part of the rim a missed shot caroms off of.
Pretty soon, I imagine teams will be able to monitor hydration needs by calculating how much sweat a player loses throughout the game. That is, if these cameras don't do that already.
Given all they can do and how long they've been around, why weren't these bad boys a staple of every arena earlier? My guess is they were too expensive.
Lowe writes that the cameras cost $100,000—per year.
Now I know what you're thinking: Not all small-market teams are about to pay that price. And you're right, they won't. Neither will big-market franchises. The NBA will reportedly be footing the bill. Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats can rest easy.
Current and future players, however, cannot. These cameras will be filming their every move. More importantly, they'll be taping their every mistake.
So be sure to bring your A-game fellas. Big brother is watching. Brushing up on your mathematical genius might be a good idea as well.