Move over Moneyball. M2M Geeks take shots in the NBA too!


I have a strong passion for M2M as it’s what I have done for most of my adult life.  Equally, I have a strong passion for sports. So when the chance to write about both things at the same time comes up…well, I can’t pass up the chance.

Previously, I blogged how “Moneyball” was just another name for Big Data, as that is really all Billy Beane and his team were doing to find ways to beat the Big-Market teams.  With this post, there is more of an M2M spin, as I am talking about how an M2M-based solution is transforming the game of basketball as we know it.

Imagine this…LeBron James comes down the court and does one of his patented power dunks….everyone in the building is mesmerized and watching him, right?  Well, not everyone.  A sophisticated system from SportVU ( is watching to see a lot of things….like the spacing of all of the players, how close defenders are to their man and why was LeBron so far open in the first place (i.e. did the defense miss something?).

The system works by using a series of six cameras that are positioned high above the court to record the movement of all players (and the ball) at an amazing 25 times per second!  The technology, previously used for missile-tracking, allows for coaches and GMs to see “the real story”.  They can now tell the exact distance that each shot went (both for those that were made and those that were missed), as well as how/why effective a particular offence/defense is and of course they can tell what great plays were made (even when they did not result in a basket being made).

So, what are the benefits? It really boils down to better understanding:

  • What schemes work and do not work
  • The effort being shown by each player
  • What strengths / weaknesses players have and how those things actually affect the game (like Billy Beane, smart GMs will look for statistics that actually matter, not the ones that are just “cool”)
  • The value of “intangibles” (Everyone knows how valuable a basketball player who can score is….but how valuable is one that is always in the right position, even when they do not score?)
Larry Bellehumeur

Bottom Line
It was inevitable that sports would be big adopters of this new world of M2M.  I mean, sports is all about numbers and the need to get even the slightest advantage over your opponent.  Plus, professional sports is big business, so the cost of one of these systems is insignificant when it comes to the cost of running a team.  But, will it help me do a 360 degree dunk?  I suspect, it will not…


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