Zach Lowe reported yesterday that the NBA will be contracting for all 30 arenas to install SportsVu cameras; the ones that track everything that moves during a basketball game. (Players, referees, the ball.) Up to this point, the technology was optional and only available at the team’s expense. (Apparently, cameras cost about $100K.) Half of the teams used them, the data was therefore incomplete, and the organization of that data was entirely the team’s responsibility. With the news that the league will be manning the SportsVu wheel going forward, video analysis will undoubtedly progress. Team strategy will evolve, as will our ability to assess player performance. Talent will always be the top indicator of team success, but NBA franchises — right now — will have an opportunity to locate and exploit the game’s existing inefficiencies that are revealed by SportsVu.
The NBA is very much a “copycat” league. People like Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich come up with great ideas, win tons of games with them, and then everybody else takes notice and tries to do the same. With this massive weapon of video technology added to the scouting arsenal of all teams, I suspect the winning strategies of the day will be imitated more quickly and effectively than ever before. If every team plays offense like the Spurs and defense like the Bulls, won’t it all get boring in a hurry?