On Thursday, I wrote about what the Knicks might learn from a fancy multi-camera tracking system installed last season at Madison Square Garden and nine other NBA arenas. The system, called SportVU and run by STATS, LLC, tracks every movement during an NBA game. It can generate an almost infinite amount of data, on everything from how fast a player runs to that player’s shooting percentage from 19 feet away on the left wing after three dribbles to his shooting percentage with a defender less than two feet away.
The subscribing teams — New York, Toronto, Washington, Golden State, Houston, San Antonio, Boston, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City and Minnesota — can look through the raw data themselves and/or have STATS generate specific reports. The folks at STATS gave SI.com an exclusive first look at three such reports last week, and two of them supplied much of the data for that Knicks post. A few readers requested more statistical nuggets, so I thought I’d dump a bunch of interesting findings in bullet point style below. Enjoy:
• Something really interesting happened in Denver last season. One report tracked every time a player drove the ball from an area 20 feet or more from the basket into an area 10 feet or fewer from the hoop — an event generally considered a healthy thing for an offense. The data excluded fast-break drives, which is important to note, since Denver ended up leading the league in qualifying drives by a wide margin. The Nuggets averaged 24.5 drives per game, miles above the league average of 14.6 and pretty significantly above the No. 2 mark (Cleveland, 18.5). Ty Lawson averaged 9.1 drives per game on his own, the highest mark in the league, and more than the Lakers averaged as a team (7.2, a league-low).
It is here we must note the sample size issues involved. Denver is not one of the 10 teams that subscribe to the system, so STATS only had data for road games in which Denver faced a subscribing team — 10 in total.
Still: It’s interesting, especially since the data excludes transition chances; Denver played at the league’s fastest pace last season, and when I first saw the data, I assumed those fast breaks fueled Denver’s huge lead here. Some delayed transition stuff probably trickles into these numbers, but they are still worth noting, especially in conjunction with a second set of numbers from a different report.