NBA D-League to begin using wearable analytic devices on players to track in-game performance

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NEW ORLEANS — The NBA held its annual Technology Summit on Friday, where players, owners, and captains of industry get together for off-the-record panel discussions in front of a large audience covering a variety of topics.

The most entertaining discussion this year covered advanced statistics, and featured Charles Barkley, Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Mavs owner Mark Cuban and others in a spirited conversation about the volume of data available and how best to use it.

It was also a timely topic, given the news that the D-League will be upping the stakes in this area by having its players wear devices during games that will provide additional data for coaches, GMs, and even team health professionals to process.

From the official release:

“The small devices, which weigh one ounce, are worn by players under their jersey with either a small disc attached to their chest, or inside an undergarment pouch located between the shoulder blades.” …

“During games the devices will be beneficial for maximizing player performance and health by generating individual player data on cardiovascular exertion, musculoskeletal intensity, fatigue, rate of acceleration and deceleration, number of jumps, and distance run and direction, among other things.” …

“As the research and development arm of the NBA, the NBA D-League is the perfect place to unveil innovative performance analytic devices in-game,” said NBA D-League President Dan Reed.  “The revolutionary data captured gives teams a new opportunity to maximize on-court productivity while optimizing player health and peak player performance – key elements to player development and team success.”

Almost two-thirds of the league’s NBA teams use these devices during practices, but it hasn’t been elevated to in-game use just yet.

The SportVU cameras that are currently installed in all 29 arenas track a whole host of additional data, and are obviously an incredible tool for coaches and talent evaluators. But the wearables could be a game-changer on the health side.

Imagine a player whose data before an injury shows levels of cardiovascular exertion and jumping ability at a consistent point during peak periods of activity. After the injury, if a player is not yet back at 100 percent, a team can see exactly how far away he is from being all the way there, and the data will quantify it in specific numbers by detailing those areas of sub-par performance.

Members of the panel disagreed on how best to use advanced analytical data in terms of player evaluation. But it would be hard to argue that information geared toward ensuring a player’s long-term health would be anything but beneficial to everyone concerned.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.