Uncovering the Hidden Contributions of 5 NBA Stats Darlings

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Uncovering the Hidden Contributions of 5 NBA Stats Darlings
Don Ryan/Associated Press

More than halfway through the initial season in which player tracking data is available publicly, we can see which players the new metrics shed positive light on.

When the NBA made the decision to have STATS LLC SportVU cameras installed in every arena before the 2013-14 season, it was a big-time coup for anybody with an interest in basketball statistics The new technology offers brand-new insights into the contributions that players make during games.

The six cameras in each arena track the movements of the basketball and all 10 players on the court 25 times per second and allow teams to gauge the efficiency of every action made during a game. The league has made some of this player tracking data available to fans for free on NBA.com.

In the data available, some statistics—like distance traveled per game and average speed—are interesting but not particularly effective for evaluating players. But there are also very useful statistics for helping to assess player contributions—statistics on defensive impact and breakdowns of shot type that weren't previously available to the casual fan.

Those statistics allow us to look at which players may be undervalued without advanced statistics through the first 50 or so games that these data have been available. 

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