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5 Myths Popped by NBA's New Tracking Data

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5 Myths Popped by NBA's New Tracking Data
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

There are certain myths perpetuated by a large segment of NBA enthusiasts, be they analysts or fans. One nice thing about the new NBA tracking data is that many of these myths can be put to the test.

Most basketball debates have centered on “eye test” versus “stats.” In some ways, the new tracking data, provided by SportsVU, puts together the best of both worlds.

The data, and how it is obtained, is explained by the NBA’s website:

Using six cameras installed in the catwalks of every NBA arena, SportVU software tracks the movements of every player on the court and the basketball 25 times per second. The data collected provides a plethora of innovative statistics based around speed, distance, player separation and ball possession. Some examples include: how fast a player moves, how far he traveled during a game, how many touches of the ball he had, how many passes he threw, how many rebounding chances he had and much more.

They are “eyes” because they are six cameras that are constantly watching everything that happens. Many of the things that we’d look for with the eye test are monitored and tracked by the cameras—and tracked far more carefully than we’d be able to if we were watching the game in person.

However, they also record these things as specific events. We refer to recording specific events as stats.

Ergo, these cameras are a kind of “statistical eyes” that can resolve many heated basketball debates.

Is Carmelo Anthony really a ball hog? Is Kevin Love really the best rebounder in the league? Do “pure” point guards run a more efficient offense than “scoring” point guards? The answers to all those questions are here.

 For each of the following controversies, we will consider:

  • The Debate: Both sides of the argument.
  • The Test: Analysis on how the new data can prove or disprove the argument.
  • The Conclusion: Summarizing the data and what it means.

As a small note, this is not a ranking, so read nothing into the order.

 

Because of the scope of this project, the data was collected over a two-day period, December 11 and 12, 2013. Analysis regarding each date is specific to only that date. All the data, unless otherwise stated, is from NBA.com/STATS.

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