Opinion: How data analysis is changing the NBA game

Using advanced statistical analysis allows NBA teams to gain a competitive advantage by influencing strategy decisions.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/zamersi0501/" target="_self">Zayaan Amersi</a>

Zayaan Amersi

October 17, 2023

In recent years, the NBA has seen big changes in how teams approach and strategize their games. These changes are mostly due to the use of analytics, which involves using advanced statistical analysis and data to understand player performance, team strategies, and overall game efficiency. In this article, we’ll explore how analytics is shaping the modern NBA game.

Teams now use analytics to gain a competitive advantage by analyzing various data points like player statistics, shot charts, lineup combinations, and opponent tendencies. With advanced technology and access to vast amounts of data, teams have realized the value of using analytics to make informed decisions.

Analytics plays a crucial role in evaluating player performance and determining their value to a team. Besides traditional statistics like points and rebounds, teams now use advanced metrics such as Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%), and Win Shares to understand a player’s impact on team success. This helps teams in decisions like acquiring new players, contract negotiations, and choosing the best lineup.

Analytics heavily influences strategic decision-making in the NBA. Coaches and teams analyze data to identify strengths and weaknesses in their own team and their opponents. This helps in creating game plans, defensive schemes, offensive strategies, and making in-game adjustments. For example, analyzing shot charts helps teams find areas where they can score efficiently, and studying opponent tendencies helps anticipate defensive moves.

Analytics played a key role in the rise of the three-point revolution in the NBA. By analyzing data, teams discovered that shooting three-pointers is an efficient scoring method. As a result, teams now focus more on shooting from beyond the arc. This shift in offensive strategy has led to more three-point attempts and higher shooting percentages, making games more high-scoring and emphasizing perimeter shooting.

Analytics also affects defensive strategies. Teams analyze opponent shot charts and tendencies to find weak areas and develop defensive schemes to prevent scoring opportunities. With player tracking data, teams can evaluate individual defensive performance, track rotations, and assess overall team defense. Metrics like Defensive Rating, Defensive Win Shares, and Steal Percentage provide insights into defensive contributions and help teams make informed decisions.

Analytics has revolutionized player development by providing detailed insights into individual performance and areas for improvement. Teams use video analysis and statistical evaluation to identify specific skills that players need to work on. This allows them to create personalized training programs and plans. Wearable technology and tracking data provide real-time feedback during practices, helping players optimize their performance based on objective data.

Analytics has become an integral part of the modern NBA game, revolutionizing how teams play, evaluate, and strategize. By using advanced statistical analysis and data-driven decision-making, teams gain a competitive advantage. Analytics influence player evaluation, strategic decisions, offensive and defensive strategies, and player development. As technology advances, analytics will continue to play a significant role in shaping the NBA, leading to further innovations. The future of the NBA is intertwined with the power of data analytics.