Captain’s Corner: Celtics’ Version Of ‘Moneyball’
BOSTON (CBS) – The “Moneyball” concept has been spreading across the sports universe at an incredible rate in the last ten years.
Last weekend, thousands of people associated with sports descended to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA for MIT’s annual Sports Analytical Conference.
After Wyc Grosbeck and his new ownership bought the Boston Celtics in 2002, the team instituted different “Moneyball” approaches.
The basketball operation staff now consists of one of the finest video staffs in the NBA. Every game is broken down to the nearest second by a videographer who is stationed in the locker room.
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Looking up high above the court, through all the championship banners, sit little cameras which are part of a new system. They have been in place since the beginning of the season.
No, the team is not spying, as you do the chicken dance or stumble over fellow fans and drop your beer as you get to your seat.
“We are actually tracking a player’s location on the court, up to twenty-five frames per second,” explained Assistant General Manager Mike Zarren.
The technology can help the team scout tendencies and show where each player performs most successfully on the floor. All the video can be uploaded to a player’s iPad in real-time and each is free to use the technology to help improve their game.
In a matter of clicks, team officials can also show anything and everything about an opponent or their own team. For example, if they want to see how Paul Pierce fares when crossing over with his left hand and shooting a fade away from the left corner, it is possible to see his success rate.
Even though his name has been mentioned in trade talks and bashed for his inconsistent play, Zarren said Rajon Rondo is the most avid video-studier on the team and utilizes the technology to its fullest extent.
In the NFL, you cannot video tape a team. But in the NBA there is a league rule that allows your next three opponents to sit at half court and diagram each team’s plays. This is further proof of the NBA’s technological evolvement.
Tommy Heinsohn, who played and coached for the Celtics, shrugged off these new methods. He said his pet peeve is that teams use too much of this technology and have stopped using their natural instincts.
“Everybody walks the ball up the floor, and the team pays attention to the video tape knows exactly what you are going to do. To me, this is like Eisenhower calling up Adolph Hitler and saying we are flying into Normandy. Video can’t show a team running up and down the court out pacing each other.”
Heinsohn has a point, but this is just another tool to help make players better and improve the NBA product. Plus, players have to execute these plays and if everyone did it, each game would be a tie.
Like it or not, these new technologies have the potential to improve the product and maybe even make it more exciting for the NBA viewer.
Sean “The Captain” McElroy is a Producer at the Sports Hub. He has covered all sports in Boston and traveled the world, but his true passion is the NBA and the Boston Celtics. The Captain has been a C’s season ticket holder for the last 9 years. Email him questions to answer each week at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seanmcelroy33