Portland Trail Blazers v Boston Celtics

Trail Blazers watching game video from bench on iPads


Just four years ago, Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post wrote about a new technology that allowed NBA scouts to search plays by team, player and type and see video for each. At the time, Synergy Sports Technology seemed revolutionary. According to Saunders, four teams still hadn’t subscribed at that point.

One of the main perks of Synergy was the ability to load plays onto an iPod for players to watch at their convenience.

Now, iPods are becoming obsolete as iPads gain favor. And, as the technology grows, so is its usefulness in the NBA.

Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge:

If you think you’ve seen the Blazers looking at iPads on the bench during games, your eyes are not deceiving you. Multiple members of the team are indeed viewing game tape on the bench, during games, with an eye towards strategic adjustments.

A quick survey of Portland’s key players on this subject produced some interesting results. Lillard, Matthews, Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge all said that they are using iPads for help during games. Interestingly, they are pursuing individual approaches when it comes to what footage they want to watch, and they also have personal preferences about when and how they view the on-demand footage.

This video feedback comes almost in real time. Starters are able to watch sequences from their first shift when they check out for the first time, minimizing the delay from action to correction. What might once have been a “halftime adjustment” can now take place before a player checks back in during the second quarter.

“I get double-teamed a lot so I just have them put my double teams on there,” Aldridge, who had 18 points (on 7-for-20 shooting) and 14 rebounds, told Blazersedge. “I want to see how they’re double-teaming me, where they are coming from. Of course [it helps]. If I’m getting double-teamed and I can see how they’re doing it, that helps me and all my teammates.”

Click through to read Golliver’s post, because it contains fascinating specifics about how each key Portland player uses the technology.

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Honestly, I’m shocked other teams don’t do it, or at least not enough teams do it that it’s widely understood as a common practice. I also implicitly assumed the NBA had a rule like the NFL, which prohibits game-day technology use by players and coaches (though that seems to be changing soon).

The NBA’s information age is coming on so rapidly, this almost feels outdated already. If the rules allow it — and Tim Frank, NBA Senior Vice President, Basketball Communications, says they do as long as the video isn’t live — why weren’t teams doing this years ago?

I suspect that will change now. The NBA is a copycat league, and teams will want to emulate the Trail Blazers, who’ve started 13-2. I don’t think Portland is winning solely because it uses iPads on the bench, but that will just be the spark for teams doing something they probably should have already been doing.

There’s one way iPads on the bench during games won’t become en vogue – the technology is already outdated.

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.